The maternal instinct: an innate feeling?

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Robert Maurer
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The maternal instinct: an innate feeling?

Last update: February 27, 2015

The woman's body is naturally prepared for reproduction, but not everyone feels the need for it. It is one thing to be physiologically predisposed to be a mother, it is quite different to take on this responsibility. Deciding to have a child is a personal and not obligatory choice, for the sole reason of being a woman.

Contrary to what many believe, the maternal instinct is not an innate feeling. It is the instinct to protect, care for, nourish and sacrifice oneself for one's child, who is born to the woman immediately after conception. During pregnancy and after childbirth, the brain activates hormonal mechanisms that awaken the maternal instinct.



Being a mother is one of the most important events in a woman's life, it is a moment that is filled with discomfort, but also with joys. In general, the tip of the balance always tends towards the positive side. Unlike all other mammals, women have the option of giving up or deciding to be a mother.

Being a mother: a vital need?

Psychoanalysis believes that the desire to have a child does not respond to a vital need of women, but that it is instead a specific need of each one, depending on their mentality and way of seeing life. That's why many women choose to enjoy their femininity and renounce motherhood, because they associate it with an idea of ​​sacrifice and imposed responsibility.

Women who decide not to be mothers do so for various reasons: because the idea does not stimulate them, because it would be inappropriate in relation to their sentimental situation or because they think it could negatively affect their relationship as a couple.


There are those who believe that giving up motherhood is a selfish act, but there are women who choose not to be mothers in order to fulfill themselves, because this would represent an obstacle to their career and to the normal course of their daily life. They are women who do not like babies or children, and who do not feel capable of raising and educating them.



However, despite the theories of psychoanalysis, there are women who seem to feel and understand motherhood as a biological instinct and an insistent call. They feel an immense love for babies and children, just as they are drawn to family life.


The intimate contact between mother and child creates a special bond. Whether called instinct or not, it is proven that when a baby is born, a feeling of protection and dedication surfaces in most women.

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