You’ve just had a baby, and you’re feeling lonely. You have been missing your friends, family members, co-workers, and partners. It’s natural to feel this way after giving birth and taking maternity leave. Some people may tell you that it will get better with time, but the reality is that it will take some work on your part to make this happen.
In this guide, we talk about why new mothers experience loneliness in the first place as well as ways they can prevent or lessen their feelings of loneliness from being overwhelming during their maternity leave.
Why Do I Feel Lonely On Maternity Leave?
As you just had a baby, your world has changed significantly. Even if you have been looking forward to being home with your new little one, the adjustment period is still difficult.
It may be hard for other people outside of your immediate family and friends to empathize with what you are going through, as they don’t know exactly how it feels inside that bubble, only where life can truly change after birth.
For many mothers experiencing loneliness during their maternity leave, this feeling peaks in the first few weeks following childbirth when moms stop interacting so much with others while taking care of themselves and their babies instead; however, some will feel lonely even months later because they haven’t found ways to get out from under or balance these feelings on their own yet.
1 – Feeling Lonely On Maternity Leave
New moms often feel lonely whilst on maternity leave from work.
You’re used to being at work surround by plenty of people to chat and listen to.
Suddenly you’re at home all by yourself with a baby, and everything is very silent.
Having no-one to talk to all day is a real killer.
Yes, you can (and should) talk to your baby, but it’s just not the same as having a proper chat with someone.
How To Improve Your Loneliness on Maternity Leave
Here are some tips that you can use to improve your loneliness on maternity leave:
Reach Out To New Moms
Try reaching out to other mothers who live close by. It’s a great idea to have at least one person in the area with whom you feel comfortable sharing thoughts, feelings, or concerns about being home alone while having a baby.
You don’t need many people; just enough so that you aren’t feeling totally isolated all the time. If this is difficult for any reason (e.g., because there may not be many moms nearby), try talking more often with friends online.
One step you could take to improve your loneliness on maternity leave is to attend some mother and baby groups.
If you look at Facebook, you should be able to find something near you. You can also check out your local council’s webpage.
For example, near me the local soft play does weekly mother and baby sessions where you can pop along and also grab yourself a cake a coffee. I have also attended some local baby massage groups which helped kerb the feelings of isolation.
Don’t underestimate how great it can be to your mental health to have some adult interactions, especially with other mums who are in the same situation as you.
If you find it difficult to get out, try seeking some online friendships and support with other new mums. There are plenty of Facebook groups for local areas dedicated to new moms.
Let Family And Friends Help
Enlist help from family members or trusted neighbours if possible and find ways around chores. You could ask them to watch the baby whilst you go grocery shopping. This will help you get out more often.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your partner, family members, and friends when they are available. Try not to feel you’re being a pain by asking people if they can do certain things for you around the house once in a while.
Take It Easy
Be patient with yourself during this time because it is a big change that will take some time before everything feels normal again. But also don’t beat yourself up too much about feeling lonely or sad either. We all have good days and bad ones!
Try not to be too hard on yourself when you feel lonely because it is completely natural for new mothers who can’t get out of their own homes much these days.
Know that while some will experience loneliness and isolation during this time period (probably more so where they don’t have any support system nearby), others may cope with or manage feelings without feeling like they are totally alone all the time either.
The key is really just finding what works best for each individual person!
2 – Feeling Bored On Maternity Leave
Yes, with a new baby to look after, it’s totally possible to be bored.
Many find the daily routine boring and this can lead to you feeling depressed maternity leave.
When you are at home with your baby, in can easily feel like you are stuck in groundhog day.
It becomes an endless cycle of timed feeds, burping, and nappy changes.
Every day feels the same, and often you can lose track of what day it is.
How To Improve Your Boredom on Maternity Leave
Try talking a walk – stick your little one in the pram and just go somewhere – anywhere! The fresh air and (hopefully) sunshine will make you feel so much better.
You can also try sitting outside in the garden. Just the change of scenery away from the same four walls will help.
Try meeting up with family and friends. If it’s too tricky to get out the home, get them to come to you. Don’t worry if your house is a mess – we’ve all been there.
Whatever it is you do, just try to break up the days so they are slightly different from one another.
Join an online group where you can talk with other mothers or pregnant women who are going through the same things as you.
Get advice from them on what has worked for them in the past so that you don’t feel lonely during your maternity leave!
Take “time outs” for yourself during a long maternity leave by setting aside time in your day to relax. Do things that you enjoy, even if it’s just for an hour or two!
3 – Identity Loss On Maternity Leave
It’s totally normal to feel like you’ve lost ‘you’. For a long time you knew exactly who you were and in an instant that’s all changed as you’re now also ‘mum’.
It’s ok to miss your old life and the way things used to be.
Times were much simpler when you could get a good night’s sleep and leave the house with minimal possessions.
It can take a while to find the right balance of being mum and still being you.
Don’t give yourself a hard time if it doesn’t come straight away.
One of the most common causes of loneliness on maternity leave is that a woman may end up feeling like she has less identity after giving birth.
This happens because there are so many new things happening in her life, such as:
- Having to adjust to being at home or taking extended time off from work while pregnant and when the baby arrives.
- Decreasing contact with old friends who don’t have any children or not knowing what you want your role(s) in this new stage of life be (for instance, working part-time outside of the house but also staying home too).
- Learning how to juggle many responsibilities throughout each day and still maintain their sanity, which they had before–even if it’s just for a few weeks.
- Feeling like they are more of ‘just’ a parent and not have the time or energy to pursue other interests. Such as hobbies or activities that they used to enjoy outside of being a mother.
How To Improve Your Identity Loss on Maternity Leave
One step you could take to help with this is once daily try to do something YOU enjoy doing.
Find sometime to be yourself. If someone offers you help – take it and give yourself a break.
Schedule and spend some time with your other half – do something you enjoy doing together, such as watching a film and getting a takeaway.
It’s important to find ways during maternity leave to remind yourself that you are not ‘just’ a parent, but also the same person who was in your old life before.
Think about what was important to you before having children, such as hobbies or interests that you wanted to pursue outside of being a parent, and try doing more things that are similar now!
It’s good for our mental health to stay involved with activities we love even if they take up less time than before.
4. Feeling Depressed On Maternity Leave
If you are feeling depressed, then it can make it even harder when you are lonely on maternity leave. The depression may come from many sources; but some common ones include:
- Feeling overwhelmed by extra responsibilities and increased demands in your life with the baby being born.
- Having a hard time adjusting to not working outside of the home for an extended period of time.
- Facing financial insecurity. Trouble paying bills or saving money after birth. This could also be a reason we might be feeling down about our new life on maternity leave.
- Having feelings of guilt for not spending enough time with friends and family. They may be feeling neglected because we’re too busy caring for the baby when they are used to being around us more often before we had our child in this new stage of life.
- Lack of sleep which can lead to a lack of energy, motivation, concentration and other symptoms. It’s important that women try their best to take care of themselves during these days by doing things like getting plenty of rest or taking naps so that it doesn’t get worse (and make them feel more lonely) later on.
If you are finding it really hard to cope with being on maternity leave and have difficulty finding happiness in everyday things, you may be suffering from postpartum depression.
Please talk to your health care professional or doctor if you are worried about this.
Here are the symptoms of postpartum depression to look out for.
Real-Life Story From A Mum Feeling Lonely On Maternity Leave
Weekends while you’re on maternity leave are different. There’s no Friday feeling. Being a Mummy doesn’t end at 5pm (okay, 4:30pm) on a Friday and start again at 8am on Monday.
I’d take smelling of baby sick over being stuck on the M25 for 3 hours any day, though.
Weekends are different. Weekends are even more precious as it’s time that we get to spend as a family, time that Scott gets to see Harry coo and chat rather than his grouchy time in the evening.
It’s time I can shower for as long as I like and even condition my hair.
Weekends mean saying “oh you think, time for Daddy to change that bum”. Weekends mean company. Help. Someone to talk to. Someone to make me tea, someone to make tea for. For two complete days. No need to look up whether any baby groups are on.
There’s no need to decide whether it’s just too much hard work to leave the house for milk. No need to choose between hovering and eating lunch. For two whole days.
Before Harry, a crappy weekend wasn’t that much of a big deal; there was Pinot Grigio to take the edge off. As much chocolate as I knew, I could burn off at the ice rink the next day and people to rant to on Monday morning.
A crappy weekend was followed by a company filled Monday and a Monday evening to do whatever Scott and I needed to get over or make up for a crappy weekend.
A crappy weekend while on maternity leave is nothing short of devastating. You spend all week looking forward to your partner being there on Saturday morning to enjoy the morning story and to do the ‘roar’ in row row your boat.
You look forward to your step feeling a little lighter, the bags under your eyes looking a little brighter and to hearing the two most precious people in your life giggle and adore each other while you have a wee without the baby monitor on.
Crappy weekend is then followed by Monday morning; but unlike before, there’s no conversation with your work bestie to share stories.
There’s no coffee ready and waiting for you just the way you like it, no-one asks you how your weekend was, no one listens to your woes and tries to make you feel better with their own dramas.
No one agrees that you have the [insert family member/friend/other] from hell. There’s no-one. There’s just you and your baby. As gorgeous and wonderful and fascinating as Harry is, he doesn’t say much, and he doesn’t make coffee yet.
Mum-day blues are lonely. They make a bad weekend even worse. You run the weekend on repeat over and over and you look into the week ahead and feel lonely.
Maybe you could go to a baby group, but today you want to talk to people who know who the characters in your life are. You need people to know why a particular incident is a big deal to you.
You need someone who knows to buy you an almond croissant just from the way you answer the phone on the way into the office. Mum-day blues are not the time for answering questions about Harry’s age, weight, and that inane “is he good” question.
Mum-day blues are hard. I’ve not yet figured out an answer to them, but I have a feeling I’ll have my fair share of them over the next 9 months.
And then I’ll be back at work and Mum-day blues will mean missing my world. Until then, there’s a cold cup of tea and half eaten mince pie waiting for me.
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Sophie is from the blog Just Another Mummy Blog. She loves to write about all topics related to motherhood.