Postpartum Loneliness | Why It Exists + How To Fix It
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It hit me with full force and completely out of the blue.
It was like a wet blanket, heavy, suffocating, and difficult to get out from under.
Postpartum loneliness was the number one thing that I never expected after the arrival of my child and after doing a recent survey in a group of mamas, it turns out that I am by no means alone!
So, today let’s talk about postpartum loneliness. Why it exists and how to overcome it.
When that new baby is placed in your arms there are so many emotions that run through you.
Once all the excitement settles down (and often when you return home from the hospital) all of a sudden the responsibility sets in.
You are responsible for this child.
When your baby cries, you’re the one that’s supposed to know how to fix it. You need to keep them alive and thriving.
It’s all on you
I’m not sure about anyone else, but I remember feeling completely overwhelmed by those thoughts.
I mean, just because my son was mine didn’t mean that I knew exactly what he needed all the time.
In case anyone didn’t know, babies don’t come with instruction manuals. Mamas learn on the job. That’s just the way it is.
So, let me start off by saying that you don’t have to know exactly what it is your baby needs. It is completely normal to be unsure. With time that will change. You’re getting to know your baby and they are getting to know you.
However, with all those thoughts about the responsibility that you now hold can come an overwhelming sense of loneliness.
Even if you’re surrounded by a great support system, you can feel as though everything is on your shoulders.
While it’s wonderful that women now have the ability to work in many industries it has led to increased isolation for those that do choose to stay at home with their children. Neighbourhoods are no longer as friendly and open and mothers don’t tend to mingle nearly as much as in times past.
The result is loneliness.
Life is far more fast-paced leaving less time for casual socialising. Families also live further apart and as a society, we are generally more protective of our space and privacy.
While in many areas we have progressed, this is one in which we have done the complete opposite.
When you become a mama, you change.
Physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Of course, you’re still you, but you think differently because your priorities are different.
Some of your friends will change and move on and unless you find friendships to take their place then it can be another factor in resulting loneliness.
Once motherhood arrives spending time with friends becomes a lot more intentional.
It is no longer a case of just getting together because now you have to actually organise both yourself and your child/ren before you go anywhere. Not to mention that it can be super tempting to turn down playdates purely because it is just too much to try and get out the door.
So how does it get better?
Because if you’re in that super lonely state then I know you’re desperate for it to be better. Loneliness can be crushing and make parenting so much harder. But, it can get better. I promise.
This one isn’t particularly comforting because it isn’t an immediate fix but time really does help.
It especially helps with the first point of the overwhelming responsibility. As time goes by you get to know your baby better and your confidence grows as a parent.
The worry is always there…it always will be, but it stops being so suffocating. You learn what works and what doesn’t and you realise that you’re not totally clueless when it comes to raising your child.
That in itself helps with the loneliness because the burden isn’t quite so big.
You also tend to share the workload more. When my first child was born I felt like it was my responsibility to do everything when in actual fact I was robbing others of a blessing.
Do yourself and your child a favour by allowing others to invest in their lives.
Acknowledge Your Loneliness
I mentioned something similar in this post about overcoming postpartum struggles. We cannot work on fixing problems if we don’t acknowledge them.
There seems to be this passive judgement towards stay-at-home mothers who dare to complain about their circumstances.
Many people would give their right arm to be at home with their children and I’ve seen many a mother belittle a stay-at-home mama because she doesn’t have to juggle working outside the home and all that goes with that.
Can we just make something clear for a minute? Whether you work outside the home, from home, part time, full time, or you’re a full-time homemaker, we ALL have unique challenges that come with our role.
No one is more of a hero than the other and EVERYONE has the right to find things difficult at times. So please, stop playing the game of ‘I’m more of a martyr than you‘ because it doesn’t help anyone.
Please, if you are lonely, acknowledge it. Tell someone and then identify some ways to help improve your situation. You will be a better mother (and person!) for it.
Find Your Tribe
I’m not one for cheesy catchphrases but this is one that I actually kind of love. It goes really well with the whole concept that it takes a village to raise a child.
It really does.
Motherhood is one of the most challenging things you will ever embark on in life.
It is full of uncertainty, demands, and unfathomable joy. It is absolutely vital that you are surrounded by people that will empower you on your journey.
Finding those that gel with you and your family can be a challenge but it is well worth the undertaking. You don’t have to have a multitude of friends but even one solid friendship is worth its weight in gold.
Did you struggle with postpartum loneliness? Are you there right now? Let me know in the comments.