Loneliness in Motherhood

Loneliness in Motherhood

When we talk about loneliness – it’s very easy to picture an older person who’s partner has died and they don’t have family nearby. Loneliness is a complex emotion and an endemic in western society not only for older people, but other demographics too.  Loneliness can affect people of all ages and in different ways. By nature, humans are herd people. We need to have human contact, closeness, nurturing, conversation and to feel loved.

If not tended to loneliness can accelerate illness such as heart disease and stroke whilst contributing to the likes of depression, binge drinking and suicide. 

Loneliness in motherhood is a thing. Despite being equipped with my “antenatal mummies” in the early days and a couple of friends having babies a few months after me, the feeling of loneliness can still creep around. Loss of role, loss of earnings, loss of important social interactions, loss of time to do anything for yourself. Sometimes loss of partner. Shit can hit the fan when a baby comes. Even in a happy relationship you can feel totally alone in your experience of being a mum. Loss of roots – especially having a baby away from your home country. I often hear nuances of “shut up and be grateful” batted about or “just get on with it” – but ignoring these bare, raw emotions that is so commonplace to new parents just adds to taboo and indeed loneliness itself.

Loneliness in Motherhood

My experience 

Having moved away from home eight years ago – home sickness is something I would experience regularly. I knuckled down after a few years of partying in London to study as a nurse. Shift working as a nurse in itself can be quite disconnecting. Myself and Brad settled down and we were lucky enough to have Arthur. Becoming a mum and having maternity leave is no doubt a privilege. But what I wasn’t prepared for was the total shake up to my normality.

I adore being a mum, I adored the newborn days but looking back I was a bit of a mess in figuring out my role so to speak. My earnings were going down week by week. I was the primary care giver for this little dot. And essentially – a bit of a house keeper. I loathed the thoughts of being a “house wife”. I’ve always been fiercely independent and suddenly I was reliant and feeling very vulnerable. Understandably, we all need roles in a household for things to work – but the loss of other regular, meaningful adult connection was so strange. Still to this day I feel I’ve lost a chunk of me and apparently I’m not alone in feeling this.

The irony of the fact that technically I was never alone, as I had a boob barnacle, barnacled to my boob. But said barnacle couldn’t ask how I’m feeling. Some days would go like a light, others I would clock watch waiting for Brad to get home.

In the early days, I did make an effort to go to baby groups and meet my antenatal friends for coffee. Having this group of mums was great to bat any concerns out over a whattsapp group, as our babies were all close in age. However the contact soon dwindles out when people start returning to work and actually having coffee out on the regs is not that budget friendly (ok there was always cake as well).

I also found myself missing my own parents. Humans are programmed to having their immediate family in their community, with multiple generations on hand to lend support – “it takes a village to raise a baby”. So its no wonder that those who have a baby miles away from home can find themselves pining for the own mother. I’m very grateful to my amazing mother in law who is so supportive. I’m also very grateful for technology which allows me to speak to my parents regularly.

Fast forward a year and I am back to work part time. It has dawned on me that I’ve had zero meet ups with my friends without Arthur. He even came on my hen do, which was amazing, we had a great time and it was the perfect scenario glamping with him. Bringing baby is great as friends get to see him, but rarely then can I have a meaningful conversation with my pals. I’m usually guarding him from stacking it wherever he has precariously perched (window sill, bar stool, kitchen sink!).

Loneliness in Motherhood

The Irony of Instagram

I must admit I am a bit of an Instagram fiend. I’m trying to channel the energy and time I spend scrolling – into something more meaningful like this blog. Social media is the best place to be social digitally but unsocial and absent in real life. Even Brad has noticed an increase in my phone use over the course of our relationship so I’m trying to be more conscious of having more quality time being actually present in the room rather than buried in my phone. I guess there is a bit of mindless scrolling also which doesn’t help. Instagram is a wonderfully curated place. I like to call it “the new cereal box family” of recent years where bells, whistles and smiles are often staged and it’s easy to compare or feel bad.

I’ve met some wonderful people on Instagram. I kind of see it as dating for friends because you connect to like minded people. But I wonder whether the use of instagram compensates for the lack of time we speak to friends. It’s so easy to “catch up” with pals by seeing what their up to on social media without even having picked up the phone and saying “how are you?”.

I’ve made a promise to myself that I need to prioritise my own needs socially. I’m delighted that the festive season is here as I’ve booked in a few evenings already where I can let my hair down and get a bit of Gill back. 

Loneliness in Motherhood

What to do to combat loneliness as a new mum?

  • Pick up the phone and have a real conversation with someone meaningful to you. Despite being away from home, I relied heavily on face time.
  • Break free from technology and get out the door. Fresh air can be revitalising. Also, I often find myself having the chats with randoms, albeit it usually brought on by my handsome baby, I’m ok with that.
  • Go to baby classes or play groups. I know some classes can by pricey, however most councils have a volunteer run play group weekly. Also lots of classes such as baby massage  or baby jammers run at these centres can be subsidised if you aren’t earning.
  • Join local mums groups on facebook or use popular apps such as mush or peanut to connect to others in the area.
  • Host a coffee morning. Ok I cant say I’ve ever done this but I have gone to a couple and they are fab. No pressure to bake, just provide hot, sensual caffeine and a few biccys.
  • Start a blog or a journal. Acknowledging and writing about the emotions your going through or a shitty day you’ve had can be therapeutic in itself.
  • Be aware of post-natal depression and anxiety. If it feels like more than loneliness, with sadness, negative thinking or intrusive thoughts – speak to a loved one or a professional if it is bad.
  • Be kind to yourself. The transition to motherhood is not always an easy one. There are some hard, anxiety ridden truths at times, but things will get easier and better. You will find your flow.
  • If, like me £300 for NCT classes sounds bonkers – check if your local NHS provides free antenatal classes. Essentially they’re the same thing, right? We even had two second time mums come to our classes to make friends.
  • Listen to podcasts. Try to incorporate your interests into your days. Even better get time out for yourself. When Arthur was a couple of months old I had to retake driving lessons. It forced me to leave him and they were actually quite enjoyable. 
Loneliness in Motherhood

A little shoutout to the lovely Mumma’s I’ve met on the ‘Gram

Lifeinsatiable

Sageandsustainability

Mamoradiary

Lucillerosefenn

Preciousvegan

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