When You Want to Be a Mother But Can't

It's common for people to minimize the pain a woman experiences when she wants to be a mother and can't. Moreover, the woman often experiences these situations in silence and solitude. However, it shouldn't be like this. It's a condition that must be addressed and overcome.
When You Want to Be a Mother But Can't
Sergio De Dios González

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Sergio De Dios González.

Written by Edith Sánchez

Last update: 09 May, 2023

The pain that you experience if you want to be a mother but can’t is usually invisible to the outside world. It’s a situation in which you’re forced to completely rebuild the previous image you had of yourself. In fact, in many cases, you have to change your entire life plan. It also often implies a radical rethinking of your relationship. Without a doubt, it’s an emotionally complex situation.

If you’re in this situation, you might’ve had several attempts at getting pregnant all ending in frustration. Or, perhaps you’re physically able to have children but there are other obstacles in your way.

As we mentioned earlier, you may find yourself living through this situation alone. Furthermore, other people often don’t understand the deep pain experienced by wanting to have children but being unable to. Moreover, they don’t understand the difficult process that must be carried out to overcome it.

Do not now seek the the answers which cannot be given to you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then, gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” 

-Rainer Maria Rilke-

Tired woman in bed

When you want to be a mother but can’t

The most common reasons for being unable to become a mother are biological. As a rule, there are certain anatomical or medical problems that lead to infertility.

Maybe you’ve experienced a chain of failed attempts at becoming pregnant. Perhaps you’ve tried assisted reproduction methods. These processes are physically and mentally demanding. Even worse, when they don’t give the expected results they cause immense emotional exhaustion. Facing up to the fact that you can’t have a child is the first major obstacle you must overcome. It may mean changing the image that you have of yourself.

Alternatively, maybe your age is preventing you from becoming a mother. Perhaps you’ve allowed too much time to go by due to being focused on your career. And, when you finally made the decision to have a child, you found it was too late.

Maybe you don’t have a stable partner and you don’t feel you should have a child without one. Or, perhaps you don’t have sufficient financial resources to guarantee the well-being of a child so you’ve given up the idea of having one. Whatever your individual circumstances, wanting to be a mother but being unable to be is painful. 

Negative feelings

If you want to be a mother and can’t, it’s common to experience negative feelings and be critical of yourself. You might experience the following:

  • Feelings of inferiority. You compare yourself with others who can have children. This results in extremely painful emotions. For example, you may even feel less of a woman.
  • Low self-esteem. You feel less valuable, despite the fact that there’s no reason to do so.
  • Guilt Although it’s not your fault, you may feel guilty.
  • Depression and anxiety. The split between what you want and the impossible can cause depression and anxiety to set in.
  • Insecurity in your relationship. If you have a partner, wanting to be a mother and not being able to can turn into insecurity about the future of your relationship.
  • Sexual difficulties. You may experience a lack of interest in sex or even reject it. This rejection can also extend to any kind of intimacy.
sad woman thinking

Misunderstood grief

It’s quite likely that your partner or those around you think that being unable to have a baby is no big deal. After all, many women don’t have children and live happy lives. However, when you want to be a mother but can’t, your negative feelings go really deep. Moreover, you often have no one to share them with or it seems pointless to do so.

You must recognize that you’re grieving. This isn’t only normal, but also healthy. After all, you’ve experienced a loss of an objective, a desire, and, perhaps your complete life plan. It’s as important and intense as any other kind of grief.

It’s also really important to share your feelings. In principle, you should do so with your partner and your immediate environment. But, if they’re not receptive or supportive enough, psychotherapy can be extremely helpful. At the end of the day, you must recognize that you have a wound that needs treatment.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Cristina, L. L., Yunuen, V. G. I., & Deyanira, A. P. (2014). El significado de maternidad y paternidad en parejas heterosexuales que no pueden tener hijos. Integración Académica en Psicología., 2(5).

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.