Becoming a new mom is exciting, thrilling, and magical. But it can also be isolating, terrifying, and lonely. Reading the baby books about breastfeeding and diapers are important, but it's equally important (if not more so) to find ways to cope with loneliness as a new mom because it's not quite as clear as it may sound — you can be surrounded by people and still feel lonely, right? As a new mom, that feeling of loneliness is compounded by a loss of identity, trying to maneuver through a life you have never had before, all while trying to care for a tiny baby that's practically a stranger. (Not to mention maternity leave and if you choose to stay home with your baby.)
Even if you have tons of friends in your life and see them regularly, there will come a time during those first few months of your role as a mother that you are almost overwhelmed by how alone you feel. Whether it's fear of being judged or worry that you're doing something wrong, it's easy to try and hide that loneliness and act like everything's fine. According to Daily Mail, a study on new moms found that 55 percent of the participants said the thing they missed the most about their pre-baby life was their own social life. The research also concluded that relationships and friendships are affected by a new baby and that mothers feel stressed, isolated, and alone.
So, first things first — you are not alone. Make a list and include these 11 ways to cope with loneliness as a new mom so you can make it through those trying months of new motherhood. I promise, you're going to be fine.
1. Get Involved In Social Media
Social media leaves a bad taste in some mothers' mouths, but it can be incredibly beneficial if you're feeling lonely or isolated. Honestly, Instagram saved me during my first few months as a mother and so did new mom forums. I connected with women, found a support network, and was able to join in someone else's good news. It's the next best thing to having a girlfriend live next door and sharing a cup of coffee every day. According to the Pew Research Center, 80 percent of mothers on social media say they receive support through their networks and 50 percent receive social and emotional support specifically on parenting issues.
2. Get Out Of The House
With or without your baby is fine, but you have to try and leave your house at some point. Loneliness is compounded by the four walls surrounding you, so even if you're browsing the aisles at Target or standing in line for a Starbuck's with the rest of the morning commuters, you'll feel less alone and more like a member of the world. Motherhood makes you feel totally isolated and if you're anxious to get out, it only makes it worse. Today's Parent suggested heading off to places where you know there might be other moms, like a library or coffee shop, so you can chat and feel social.
3. Let Go Of Your Phone Phobia
I'm terrible about talking on the phone, but FaceTime has pulled me out of many dark days. When I moved 60 miles away from my mom, we would FaceTime each other to watch Project Runway and when I had my baby, the app was used to keep us all connected. It can feel a lot more personal than talking on the phone and it's easier to use. I don't know how many times I've propped by BFF up on FaceTime while I made dinner for my daughter just so we could chat.
4. Keep Up With Your Friendships
I know it's hard to go out and meet new friends, but you have to try and fit in your friends when you can and create a support network. According to Parents, when women have children, the time they spend with their friends each week is reduced from 14 hours a week to barely five. Invite your friends over, talk to couples who have children and plan a family day with your kiddo and partner, reach out to family members — make an effort to remain friends with people and be sure to let them know how much you miss them, even if you find it hard to make time for them.
5. Focus On Something That Makes You Feel Like You
Part of the difficulty in loneliness as a new mom is that you're also feeling like a different person. Loss of identity in parenthood is very real, which is why it's important to focus on something that reminds you of who you are and makes you feel good. Some people thrive on being alone, but being alone and feeling lonely are two separate things. You can combat the loneliness with something you love to regain who you are and enjoy that time to yourself. Today reported that taking care of yourself is essential to being a good mom and person, so take the time to focus on you once in a while. It will make everything else, including missing your friends, seem less daunting and overwhelming.
6. Don't Fall Into The Comparison Trap
Nothing makes loneliness thrive like the comparison trap. Don't fall in. If social media makes you feel crazy because you're seeing your friend from college lead what looks like a picture-perfect life, then take a break from it. Baby Center noted that if you constantly compare your life as a mother to someone else's, you will feel defeated, drained, and even alone.
7. Read Real Books About Motherhood
I'm not talking about parenting books, I mean books that tell the truth about motherhood. Memoirs like Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year ($12) will reveal the messy truth about parenthood and make you feel less alone and more in tune with mothers around you. Find a book that speaks to you about parenting and treat it like a friend.
8. Pick Up Hobbies That Don't Involve Your Child
It's tempting to go to play groups as a way to socialize or the local library for story time, but I found it even more difficult to make "mom" friends than childless friends. Don't think that just because you're a mom, you have to do everything with your child. Join a new gym class, have a paint night with friends, or find a book club. You'll be able to connect with people about something other than poopy diapers and breastfeeding and you'll find that your loneliness edges away.
9. Don't Feel Guilty About Asking For Help
Seriously, don't. It takes a village, so use it. I know you feel like you have to do it all, but this can make you feel even more lonely because you're constantly bogged down by your responsibilities and feel like you have no room or time to breathe. Today's Parent suggested giving up the guilt you're feeling so that you can have help navigating those overwhelming early months of motherhood.
10. Know That It Doesn't Last Forever
It doesn't, OK? This won't last forever. According to Daily Mail, studies found that 52 percent of new moms genuinely thought they had lost their identity in the first 12 months of motherhood, but they all agreed that the first six months were the most difficult and stressful. Give yourself six months to get into the groove of things and see how you feel.
11. Talk To Your Doctor If You Think You Might Be More Than Just Lonely
Loneliness is normal, but if you're feeling like it's more than just a case of adjusting to new motherhood or missing social interaction, you should speak to your doctor. According to Postpartum Progress, many new moms try to be around friends or have social activities and find that they feel even more alone. If your loneliness seems to get worse rather than better and you feel yourself deep in a fog, you could possibly be suffering from postpartum depression and should seek help so you can be the best possible woman for yourself and your baby.