Social isolation and motherhood
If you’ve experienced those newborn days at home with your brand new, teeny tiny baby, I’m sure it will come as no surprise to hear that the majority of new mothers find this period extremely socially isolating. This is most likely even more so during the past eight months, in the midst of a global pandemic.
When I had my first baby I felt the isolation almost as soon as I left my job for maternity leave. I went from interacting, laughing and connecting with friends and colleagues every day, to not talking to anyone for days, with the exception of the self-checkout in Woolies (thank you, unexpected items in bagging area!) I remember counting down the time to which hubby would get home so that I would have another person to talk to… And this was before our baby had even arrived!
I felt as though I’d already lost a little of my identity.
As a new mum we are completely besotted with our new little baby. We find ourselves on a conveyor belt of changing nappies, feeding, burping, and getting baby to sleep. It’s so easy to focus everything on baby’s needs 24/7, whilst our colleagues, friends and external family continue to get on with their day-to-day lives. Our social world carries on turning and, trapped in our little baby bubble, we’re no longer part of it.
For me, as a new mum, the first few weeks were filled with friends and family visiting. We weren’t isolated from them at this point, but I was so exhausted that I just didn’t have the energy to really engage with them. Everyone wanted cuddles with my baby and I was happy to have a short break. After those first few weeks, we started to settle into a routine and life got a little bit easier, the brain fog started to clear a little and I was ready to reconnect with friends and family… But they were now out there in the real world whilst my world was now governed by my baby’s nap times and feed times.
So what can be done about feeling isolated after having a baby?
Mother’s Groups are a great way of meeting other new mums (often in the same boat as you) in your local area. Usually set up by your local health service, Mother’s Groups offer education, support and connection. If you’re lucky you’ll be part of a group of women who you click with, but if it doesn’t work out that way, there are plenty of other ways to lessen social isolation.
Community run play groups can be a great way to meet other mums, especially if you have older preschool-age children. Not sure where your local play group is? Put a call out on social media, search the internet or ask your GP at your next appointment.
Local Social Media Groups
Social media groups set up and run for local mums are a great way to reach out to other mums. Find a group that is supportive, non-judgemental and are open to meeting up face to face.
Mums’ fitness groups are a wonderful way of meeting other mums whilst rediscovering a part of your identity. We’re so focused on baby’s needs 24/7, it’s easy to ignore our own. A mums’ fitness group is the perfect way to start doing something for yourself (physically and socially) as well as getting baby out into nature and the fresh air (if it’s an outdoor class). I strongly recommend finding a fitness group run by an accredited mums’ fitness professional who collaborates with a women’s health physio so that they can safely guide you through post natal rehab and exercise. You can find the Body Beyond Baby directory of accredited mums’ fitness trainers here.
Reach Out To Friends And Family
Just because friends and family may not be in touch as much as they were before, it doesn’t mean that they do not want to see you. Reach out to them and arrange to meet up or arrange a time to talk on the phone. It sounds simple, but sometimes it’s easy to overlook when we’re tired and caught up in baby’s routine.
If you’d like further support and would like to talk to someone about your feeling of being socially isolated, or mental health in general, these services are available: