6 Things you can do to Prevent Loneliness as a New Parent
Half of first time mothers, and fathers, experience loneliness as a new parent. This was found in a study conducted in 2000 people. Many new parents are often cut off from friends and family due to their new change in status, and in first world countries, living away from your family is very common. This often happens right after birth of a child. Of course, having a child also brings a change in your financial position and change in work status. Many new mothers take time to recover after the birth of the baby so being as social as pre-pregnancy or even getting out of the house often, is not the norm. This leaves many parents feeling not just lonely but also depressed (post-natal depression).
As a new mother, I can empathise with the above. I had a flurry of happiness when our baby was born, but our families are abroad and many of our friends don't have children so it was difficult for them to identify with our newly acquired situation. We found that we still had much in common of course but when the bane of your life is 8 feeds a day and lack of sleep for the first few weeks, you don't have much to talk about with friends where you might have shared a more active lifestyle.
One thing we did was join an antenatal group (we joined the NCT group) when I was pregnant, in my last trimester, to meet new parents to be who were all in the same boat as us. This was fantastic as we met 5 super couples who were all in the same position, feeling a little unsure and nervous about what is to come, and having families who live in different cities. This was and still is a great support structure for us. We met some true friends who understand what we go through but also where we can bounce ideas off each other as we enter every new stage of the babies development.
Of course, the disposition I mentioned earlier re the 8 feeds and lack of sleep doesn't last forever, by the time baby is 3 months, you should also take the opportunity to start joining baby classes. I have to admit that most mothers here don't really try to make friends too readily, perhaps as they are so preoccupied with everything else going on in life (being a new mother is quite challenging at times). But if you go routinely, the ice will melt and you will soon make new friends.
The other thing which is helpful, but not easy to plan with a baby necessarily, is re-join your gym or take mother-baby fitness classes. The boost of serotonin will help your mood and getting out will allow you the opportunity to meet new people again. Try and find a gym with a creche. The rates are usually cost effective compared to getting a baby sitter for the same time. Virgin Active (https://www.virginactive.co.uk/), amongst other chains, have some gyms with creches.
SCHEDULE DATE NIGHTS
You might feel completely unsexy after you just had a baby and this might contribute to you feeling distant and lonely too. Touch base with your spouse or partner in the first place. He/she might be experiencing exactly what you are. Supporting each other and scheduling more time together, especially date nights, is the first step.
GET IN TOUCH
Get in touch with your friends and family and let them know you are lonely. If you were a working mother, as I was, the change will be huge from suddenly working 8-10 hour days to being at home alone with a beautiful baby when on maternity leave. Its amazing how supportive friends can be. They might also be giving you space thinking that you need it to settle in as a new parent.
SUBSCRIBE TO A MOTHER'S NETWORK OR APP
There are so many apps out there that allow you to meet other mothers such as MUSH and Peanut. Remember they are all experiencing the same thing you are. There are also networks such as www.mumsnet.com, www.parents.com, www.cafemom.com, www.madeformums.com etc, that can enable you to meet new mothers and friends.
I found that travelling made me feel like myself again, completely. Of course, plan it according to the budget you have available, but being in a place that reminds you of the old you, having a change of environment and being in different temperatures can all work amazing wonders. Seasonal Affective Disorder is most common in Winter in the Northern Hemisphere. It's not surprising as we see the sun so rarely in London over this time so the vitamin D intake is really low. Getting away to some sunny environment can do wonders for your confidence and your soul.
Of course, if you feel like you still feeling this way, please speak your General Practitioner or therapist as post natal depression or loneliness should never be allowed to fester.