My second child is due towards the middle of next year. This was an expected, planned pregnancy.

I have no worries or reservations about having another child. It's something my wife and I both wanted and we agreed upon the timing.

That said, I have found this pregnancy to be much less exciting and emotionally charged than the last (it's less pregnant, if you will). I know some of this is just because it's not new and many of my fears/worries about pregnancy were assuaged.

However, my lack of excitement is much more severe than I expected. I feel less emotionally invested in this pregnancy than the last.

I have read about some fathers needing a long time to feel attachment to their child, but these articles are usually about fathers who felt this with their first child. They're not about parental attachment to additional children/pregnancies.

I don't have any worries about whether or not I will love my next child as fully as possible, but I do wonder when that will happen.

Is this a common (or not uncommon) feeling during additional pregnancies? Is there any trend regarding when this attachment develops (such as during a stage of pregnancy, during labor/delivery, or some time frame after birth)?

If those questions are unanswerable, does anyone have advice on making pregnancies more exciting for the parents?

Since there have been a couple responses that I feel might have confused the question, I wanted to clarify that I'm not concerned about my ability or potential to love my new little one. I've emphasized the relevant part of the question above.

I also wanted to add that we found out the other day that we're having another son. I'm marginally more invested now that I have a more concrete image of who's coming, but I still can't help but feel a little guilty about how little excitement I'm feeling.

However, I have found that two things are helping to make me more excited: - Trying to decide on a name for my new son - Asking my firstborn questions such as, "Do you think we should get a baby?"

I think these work because I'm adding to the mentality that there will actually be another person in our family soon.

  • 2
    If you care enough to ask the question, you'll care enough for the child!
    – Marc
    Dec 24, 2014 at 16:51
  • @Marc Thank you! However, I'm not wondering about whether or not I will care for the child. I'm just wondering when my attachment to my next son (as we just found out!) will be similar to the attachment to my first son.
    – user11394
    Dec 24, 2014 at 18:42
  • When my second daughter was born, it just was. Change that first diaper for your second child in the hospital just like you did with the first child, and the second needs you just as much as the first did and does. So I guess my answer is, "Not long at all."
    – Marc
    Dec 25, 2014 at 0:58

3 Answers 3


What a great question!

While I was pregnant with our second, my husband and I felt just like you do. I could never bring myself to talk to anyone except my husband about it, I felt so guilty. I wondered if I could ever love this child like I loved the first. I even wondered if there was something wrong with me.

Like most worrying, it turned out to be for nothing. My fears disappeared pretty quickly after the birth, and soon enough I wondered how I could love my second baby so much.

Had I asked our obstetrician, I would have learned how incredibly common this is. In the link below, you can read parent after parent confessing to similar fears.

When will you feel the same attachment to your second? My guess is within a few days of his birth. It may take longer, but that incredibly passionate love that surprised you with your first will be just as surprising with your second, maybe more so because you didn't expect it.

Berkeley Parents

  • 2
    Thanks very much for the link. I've browsed it some already, and plan to read some more. I tried searching for something like it myself, but had no luck.
    – user11394
    Dec 20, 2014 at 20:03
  • 1
    Added to say that for me it took almost 6-7 months to feel the same attachment to number 2. I just was so unsure I would be 'good' at being a mother with number 1, so the joy of it caught me unaware (low expectations). With number 2, I had much higher expectations, but it was not the same 'rush' at birth. Now, well, now I sometimes feel guilty for liking number 2 the best :)
    – Ida
    Dec 23, 2014 at 22:12
  • I chose this as the answer because it explicitly answers the questions about: How common..? and When will I...?. The other responses mostly support those direct answers, as well.
    – user11394
    Dec 24, 2014 at 18:57

Being a mother of two I can not speak from a father' perspective, but let me try:

For our first child everything was new. Also, he first child changes more - that's when the couple turns into a family and you become a father. From this perspective the second child is no big news, been there, done that. Ok, seriously, of course it is, but it doesn't change the family dynamics as much as the first. You don't have to think as much as before about new things or "how's it going to be when....".

Then, the first child needs your attention, leaving less time to think about the second. You can't focus that much on being pregnant when a toddler needs you.

As a father, you are even more at a disadvantage: For your wife, the second child can always "remind" her that it's also there - a well-placed kick will do ;-) But for the father it's always somewhat "hidden". My husband experienced roughly the same as you: He said that the second pregnancy went by "almost unnoticed". Think about what is different: Perhaps you are the sole breadwinner now, spend a lot of your free time with your firstborn, ....

Let me reassure you: IMHO, the fact that you are thinking about your feelings is a sign that you shall be fine once the child is born...

Good luck!

  • 3
    As a father of three, I'd have to say you are spot on with this. In saying that, my wife was the same. The second was much easier and less of a voyage of discovery than the first, and the third was almost relaxed the whole way through.
    – Rory Alsop
    Dec 20, 2014 at 20:00
  • 1
    Father of two, and my second is only 6 months old. Second pregnancy just wasn't the same. But once the new one arrives that all flies out the window because no two kiddos are the same. Dec 22, 2014 at 15:07

Stephie and anongoodnurse have already answered your question very well (+1 from me for each), but here's two more thoughts on attachment between fathers and children:

Attachment from its parents is something that used to be of utmost importance for the child to be able to survive (and really, if you look at the state human newborns arrive in, it still is), so nature took care to create mechanisms that make parents feel attached.

From what I see, and this seems to be confirmed by some studies I heard about, attachment is related to early bonding. There a correlation between how much time fathers spend with their newborn and how attached they feel to the child later. All the fathers I know who have been present during birth and spent plenty of time home after their child was born, changing diapers and helping the mother in those bad nights that seem to be part of having children, are great fathers whose attachment to their child nobody would question.

So if you doubt your ability to love your children, make sure you spend plenty of time with them early on.

The second thought on your current state is from an evolutionary POV: You and your wife have already invested a lot into your first child. Should life become a struggle, biologically and evolutionary nature's first priority should be for you to protect that investment. As long as your second child isn't even there, it would be in the best interest of your first child to receive all the attention and love you have, because it is known that it has survived the first x years, while it is unknown about the yet unborn if it will survive that long. However, the very moment your second child is born, it, too, needs attention and care, otherwise the pregnancy would have been wasted. That's why you will love your second child just as fiercely as your first — once it's there.

As a father of many children, I can tell you that each of my children is a very different person from all of the others, and that I love each one of them for different reasons and in a different way — but all of them very fiercely. Love follows math's rules only very loosely or not at all, and I can assure you that one can love every single child as if it was the only child in the world to be loved — and love all of them like this at the same time. :-)

  • 2
    Your "evolutionary* standpoint makes a lot of sense to me, even if I don't feel like getting scientific confirmation on it. It has incidentally been most successful in helping me feel less guilty, since I can now rationalize my emotions in relation to a greater scheme.
    – user11394
    Dec 24, 2014 at 19:00
  • @CreationEdge: I'm the kind of person who searches for such things in order to understand how I (and others) work. I always think that understanding why my wife/child/parent reacts helps me to deal with it if it is unpleasant for me.
    – sbi
    Dec 25, 2014 at 20:59

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