Motherhood comes with many highs but lows too, one of which is the feeling of loneliness after having your baby. You may be thinking to yourself ‘but how?’; you’ve just given birth to the most beautiful little person, who you’re with pretty much with twenty-four seven, so how on earth can you be feeling like this?
“Feeling lonely is not uncommon after the birth of your baby, especially after a first baby,” says Lesley Gilchrist, registered midwife and co-founder of My Expert Midwife. “During pregnancy women are often at work and their thoughts are focused on maternity leave and the birth. Once your baby has been born, the fuss has died down and your partner is back at work and new mums can feel like they have a new identity that is difficult to process, especially when you factor in the sleepless nights and tiredness associated with new parenthood.”
As well as a loss of identity, if you’re a first-time parent, you may feel the uncertainty and weight of responsibility of your new role weighing on your shoulders. All of this often leads to mum guilt, but we’re here to tell you, you shouldn’t. This feeling is completely normal and it will pass.
How to help loneliness after having a baby
Below are some steps you can take which will help you start to feel a little more like ‘you’ again and connected to others.
Acknowledge your feelings
This can be scary at first. Afterall, no one likes to admit they’re lonely, especially as it’s usually deemed a ‘negative’ feeling. However, being honest with yourself can bring a sense of relief. Remember, it’s ok not to be ok, and this feeling certainly does not make you a bad mum, there are plenty of others who feel like this too.
Related: Louise Pentland shares her experience of loneliness as a mum
Whether that’s to a friend you trust, your partner, the doctor or reaching out to a supportive charity. You don’t have to deal with this feeling alone and while it can be difficult opening up to someone about it, it can often feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of your shoulders having done it.
“Connecting with other parents can be rewarding and supportive friendships can develop,” says Lesley. “Check with your local council, library or community centre to see if there are some postnatal groupsyou can join. Don’t be put off if you visit one group and don’t like it, you may need to go to a few to see which ones are ‘your thing’.”The app Mush, also helps mums just like you find friends who live nearby with children the same age, who you can chat and meet up with.
Schedule in ‘connection time’
As humans we were not made to live life completely alone, human contact is incredibly important for our wellbeing, you only need to think back to the Stone Age to remember we went round in tribes. As a new mum you may not have time to spend a whole day with friends or family like you used to, so instead make time to schedule in a 15 minute phone call instead or for someone to pop round for a quick coffee. Keep those connections going, as it can help you feel more connected emotionally which in turn will help your mental wellbeing.
Take care of your own needs
This is easier said than done when you have a newborn to take care of and is even harder if you’re a single parent. Not only does taking a little ‘you time’ get completely lost in your list of priorities, but it can also leave you feeling extremely guilty if you do decide to have some. However, it’s important to still do things that you enjoy to get you feeling more like you again. You need to view yourself as a car, if you don’t take good care of it, eventually it will slowly breakdown. It’s exactly the same when it comes to motherhood and you’ll just end up burning out. So whether it’s an hour watching your favourite programme or 15 minutes every morning reading, schedule in some time for something you enjoy. The better you start to feel, the more confident you will feel about reaching out to others.
Support organisations that may help
NCT - this is the leading charity for parents in the UK, offering support and local group meet ups.
Home-Start- a family support charity that can help you in your home if you have an illness, disability, bereavement or are isolated.
Family Lives- formerly Parentline Plus, Family Lives offers emotional support to parents through their helpline.