BBC presenter Rachel Burden has revealed the heartbreak she suffered as she struggled to bond with her premature son.
The Radio 5 Live breakfast show host gave birth to baby Henry three months early by caesarean section, and admitted she found it difficult to feel connected to her youngest son.
Rachel, who already had three other children – said she felt ‘”detached” from her new son and didn’t feel the same “rush of love” she had with her first three babies.
Problems started for the 42-year-old when she was diagnosed with the potentially life-threatening condition pre-eclampsia.
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Immediately after he was born, Henry was taken away and put into an incubator with life-saving equipment, which meant that Rachel didn’t really get to hold him or see him for a few days.
And it was these difficulties and lack of contact that Rachel feels contributed to her not being able to bond with the baby.
“I didn’t really feel love for this scrawny creature,” she admitted.
“I only felt relief that he was breathing, and anxiety that he was now out there on his own far earlier than he should have been.”
But Rachel says that when she was finally able to hold Henry, all that changed.
“I remember thinking he was really fragile and I wasn’t quite sure how to hold him. But it was amazing.
“As soon as I had him on my skin, that was the pivotal moment. Although I still felt a degree of detachment, the love began to really grow.”
Fortunately, Henry is now 14 months old and doing well and Rachel admits “Now I love him more than I can bear.”
Rachel wants to speak out to warn other mothers that caesarean sections are not “the easy option” – as she believes it was having the difficult surgery that caused the delay in bonding.
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“There’s this idea that a C-section is the easy option, and it’s not remotely the easy option,” she said.
“I found it physically traumatic and emotionally traumatic as well.”
Rachel, who co-hosts Radio 5 Live’s Breakfast with Nicky Campbell, will be broadcasting the show live from Burnley General Hospital – where Henry was born – on Tuesday.