Will you be a good mother?
Demystifying the maternal instinct
What is the so-called "maternal instinct"?
According to Elyse Rubenstein, a Philadelphia psychiatrist who counsels new mothers, the term refers to "an inborn tendency to want to protect and nurture one's offspring." Almost all mothers (human and animal alike) eventually come to feel this way after they have a child.
I was never a "baby person" before. Does that mean I'll be a bad mother?
No, how you feel about babies before you have one isn't an accurate predictor of the kind of mother you'll become. "You don't have to be the type who fawns over babies," says Rubenstein. Once you give birth, it's a whole new ballgame, and feelings you never expected to have will surface as part of the process of becoming a parent.
Before San Jose resident Heidi Oliveri had her son, Brandon, she was a typical 22-year-old -- fun-loving, outgoing, career-minded, and definitely not the kind of person you'd describe as maternal.
San Jose 居民Heidi Oliveri 在有她的儿子Brandon之前，她是一个典型的22岁、爱闹、爱玩、事业心强，绝对不是你要描述的那种母性的人物。
"I was not a baby person," she says. "I never pictured myself having three kids, which I now do." But she's completely comfortable in her role as a mother. "Until you have your own, you really don't know what you'll be like," she says. "But once you have a baby, the maternal instinct just kicks in."
What if I don't feel particularly maternal?
The fact that you're worried about being "maternal" or a good mother in the first place shows that you're concerned about your baby. And that's a great start. Instead of worrying about whether you fulfill a requirement for parenthood that experts themselves don't even agree on, focus your energies on getting to know your baby. 一开始你就担心你的母性或者能够成为一个好母亲，这个事实就显示了你还是关心你的孩子。那是好的开始。如何满足作为父母这个角色的要求，即使专家他们自己也没取得一致的意见，与其担心这个，不如把你的精力集中放在了解你的孩子上。
"A large number of new mothers fear, in some way, that they don't quite make the grade because parenting doesn't come as naturally as they expected it would," says Rubenstein. But what counts just as much as those fuzzy feelings you're supposed to have for your baby is a combination of experience and education.
The older your baby gets, and the more you get to know him, the more confident a parent you become. Heidi Oliveri agrees. The more she got to know Brandon, the more comfortable she felt about being a mother, a skill she thought she'd never master. "Like any relationship, this one takes time to grow," she says.
你的小孩子越大，你对他了解的越多，你就会成为一个更有自信的父母。Heidi Oliveri 同意这种说话。她对Brandon了解的越多，她就对作为一个母亲感到更自在，做母亲的这种技巧她曾经认为自己永远掌握不了。她接着说，和任何关系一样，这种亲子之间的关系需要花时间去培养。
Unless you feel an overwhelming, unrelenting resentment toward your baby, you'll soon grow into your new role as a mother and do the best you can (which is what most new parents do).
If you're continually feeling sad or angry, or if you ever feel you might hurt your baby, seek help immediately. Your doctor or midwife or your baby's pediatrician can refer you to a counselor trained to help new moms.
Fact-checked by the BabyCenter Editorial Team and approved by our Medical Advisory Board.