By Dr Nicole Highet
The loneliness of new motherhood can come as a BIG shock. For most mamas, it hits after the flood of visitors have been and gone, partners have gone back to work (often too soon), and life has become a cycle of feeds, nappies and sleep (and NO SLEEP for mama!)
Mamas who are used to busy offices, after work drinks, hobbies and regular catch-ups with friends, can find the transition lonely AF, as well as mums who are the first in their group to have a bebe. And let’s be real – it’s strange to feel deep loneliness, when you’re so rarely alone… thanks to having a bambino to care for 24/7.
What new mamas can do to help ease feelings of loneliness
1 // Join a mothers’ group
Many women don’t think twice about joining a mothers’ group – it’s simply part of new mum life. Others, however, are deterred after hearing horror stories of competitive and judgemental parents. If that’s you, have an open mind. While you may not make a life-long friend, even finding one or two local new mamas who are happy to go for walks, can be helpful during those early months.
2 // Tell people how you’re feeling
When you disappear into the new baby bubble, it can be easy to lose touch with friends. And while it’s hard to say, “Actually, I’m feeling really lonely,” often, sharing how you feel can make a BIG difference. Good friends will be proactive about catching up once they know you’re struggling with loneliness.
3 // Join online communities
The world of online forums certainly isn’t for everyone, but for many mothers, especially those in more remote areas, forging online friendships can be a lifesaver in those early weeks and months.
4 // Strike up conversations with other parents
Talk to other mums wrangling kids at the park or in your local café or supermarket. While you’re on maternity leave, as you spend more time in your community, you’ll start to see the same faces, following similar routines – and they’re probably just as lonely as you are! And while asking another mum for her phone number or adding her on Facebook after chatting at the park can feel a lot like “mum-dating”, you’d be surprised just how many friendships begin this way.
5 // Listen to the radio, music, podcasts or audiobooks
Break up long days spent alone in the house by listening to interesting books, podcasts, or even lectures to keep you in touch with your industry. This can give you a sense of connection with the world around you and provide an opportunity for mental and emotional stimulation and growth. COPE has released YouTube and podcast series The Mum Drum, covering everything from conception, to birth, to relationship changes after baby and the work/life juggle, the series brings experts and parents together for real talk, a few tears, and lots of laughs.
For more info on preparing for the emotional and mental challenges of pregnancy and early parenthood, sign up to their Ready to COPE e-guide.