When Busby was born we had recently moved from Brighton to Lewes; we lived at the top of a hill (with the town centre at the bottom), and it was a very cold, snowy, icy winter so I didn’t feel safe leaving the house in case I got stranded or slipped over with my new bundle. When Nick’s paternity leave finished I felt very lonely and isolated; I didn’t know anyone, I had A BABY (which was a whole crazy, new experience), and I was living somewhere new. If it hadn’t been for social media I would have gone completely mad; it helped me meet local mamas, it kept me company during night feeds, and best of all, it confirmed that I wasn’t the only one going through the newborn haze.
Skip forward two and a half years, and I’m about to do the very same thing again… You’d think we’d learn??! Next month we move into our new house in East Yorkshire, having moved our lives up here from Sussex… and then our next bundle is due in June!
The lovely folk at AXA PPP Healthcare have carried out research into combating loneliness and isolation as a new Mama, and have asked me to share some of their findings.
Did you know?
Many first time mums (33 per cent) find their new role as a Mama harder than they expected, with 37 per cent saying they feel stressed since giving birth. Nearly one in five (17 per cent) said they wished they had someone to talk to openly about their baby worries and challenges.
It’s perhaps unsurprising then that a fifth (19 per cent) also said they use online forums to get in touch with other new mums and that their reliance on social media to stay connected with existing friends increased from a third (33 per cent) to almost a half (49 per cent) following the birth of their child.
As I’ve mentioned above, the internet was my saviour as a first time parent!
Below is an interview with Steve Iley, the Health Services Medical Director at AXA PPP Healthcare, with some great advice for Mamas who might be feeling lonely:
1. Is it normal to feel isolated and lonely when you’re a new mum?
Absolutely. Many new mothers experience these feelings, particularly once their partner has gone back to work. Motherhood is a big shock to the system, and it takes a while to get used to looking after your new addition. A small proportion of new mothers become seriously depressed following the birth of a baby. This probably won’t happen to you – but if you are very sad and weepy do seek help earlier rather than later.
2. What can I do to conquer the isolation?
It’s a good idea to get involved with other young mothers by joining a mother-and-baby group in your local area – perhaps a massage baby class. This gives you the chance to bond with other new mums as they get used to being parents too.
3. Will people think I’m a bad mum if I admit I’m struggling?
Absolutely not. It’s normal to struggle. The mum you see out shopping, with perfect hair and a co-ordinated outfit, is probably finding things just as difficult as you. Always ask for help. If any friends or relatives offer help, accept it. Of course you want to be seen to be in charge but a couple of hours off to sleep or go out for a meal with your partner will elevate your mood. You still need to look after your own health and mental well-being so ask others to share the load and take some you-time.
4. How can I feel more like me again?
If you have friends in the area, invite them round. It’s easy to lose sight of who you were before you became a parent. Having a laugh and a gossip with good mates is a great way of boosting your mood and helping you feel more like you. Try to set aside time with your partner and do things you used to do before you had a baby – carry on with that TV box set, or make a reservation at that restaurant you always used to visit. If you feel like you’re missing out on your hobbies, ask your partner to look after the baby for a while, while you go for a swim or nip to buy some new clothes. Grab every opportunity to remind yourself of the things you enjoy.
Did you feel lonely or isolated as a new Mama? What did you find helped combat the isolation? Which social media platform or parenting site did you find best for meeting new parents?