The Myth of Maternal Instinct

Maternal instinct refers to the idea that every woman would want to have children and will have an innate strong bond with the baby once it is born. Many people believe this to be true. Some also believe that once the baby is born a new mother will instinctively know what to do for her baby because her maternal instincts kick in.

All of the above is not true.

First of all, not all women want to have children. It is often viewed as a negative thing if a woman is unwilling to have a child or does not display any wish to have a child. It is believed that the ultimate duty of a woman is to give birth. However, as times change more and more women are opting to have no children of their own. Which is totally okay. A woman need not always want children. It should not be viewed as negative. Not wanting children is her choice. As you have the right to choose to have kids, she has every right to choose to not have kids.

The second myth is that woman will have a strong bond of love or connection with her baby as soon as it is born. But instead, according to one 2018 study, these feelings of affection develop several days after birth, with some women struggling to feel them even several months later. When this feeling does not kick in, several mothers even wonder if it is their fault. This is not true. It is natural to develop a bond with your baby gradually.

Also giving birth is not the only parameter to have a bond with your baby. When you become a parent, biologically, or otherwise, your brain chemistry changes. This does not only happen to the person giving birth. In fact, research shows that fathers and foster parents also experience heightened levels of oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine during the transition to parenthood. This change in fathers and in foster parents comes from bonding activities between the caregiver and the baby. This is true for mothers who opted to have babies through surrogacy as well.

The last is the myth that a new mother will automatically know what to do for her baby. This is the biggest lie of all. We all learn to become mothers. We are tutored by elders or learn by watching and observing others or through trial and error. You don’t instinctively know what is right and wrong for your baby. You learn from your experiences and acquire knowledge through the experiences with your baby or child.

So when all three of these myths are busted we arrive at the conclusion that not every woman will have a maternal instinct. But there is a habit in society to be prejudiced against women who do not display the maternal trait like having love for children. If they express that they do not like children or do not want to have one of their own ever, they are viewed as cold and monstrous. According to them, it is not womanly to have no desire for children.  Your womanhood has nothing to do with the fact whether you like children or want children.

The concept about womanhood should change and the notion that every woman will have a maternal instinct should change as well. We hope for a better future where a woman’s womanhood is not measured through these parameters. 

-Staff Reporter

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