LONELINESS IN EARLY MOTHERHOOD...”sobbing I have no friends...”
Image credit: Gillian Wilson
As a new mother it’s quite common to come across the message; “your not alone- we’ve all been there...” And while there is truth in this, it can be difficult to believe with many new mothers (I’d even go as far to say all- at some stage) experiencing overwhelming feelings of loneliness.
UNICEFF estimates that 250 babies are born world wide each minute, and when a baby is born so too is a mother- 250 mothers born around the world every minute... That’s amazing, all these women world wide sharing in such an incredible life transformation, yet loneliness in motherhood exists and here’s why;
250 new mothers every minute, but if your one of them your only going to come into direct or indirect contact with a fraction of this number, a tiny subset of new mothers- part of a massive worldwide group. This tiny subset might include friends and/or family members, mothers in a new mothers group, new mothers you pass on the street, new mothers on social media or in online forums- perhaps your subset is even smaller if your geographically or otherwise isolated. This subset can impact feelings of loneliness in two deeply significant and unexpected ways;
When I was pregnant- along with quite a few of my friends I envisaged us all catching up at coffee shops with our babies, and while this did occur, in reality catch ups were a lot fewer and farther between than I imagined (for a variety of reasons that only make sense to you when you become a mum). I recall being in tears to my husband one night after a catch up with a couple of friends fell through sobbing: “I have no friends!” my best friend had just moved overseas and my sister who gave birth to my nephew one month after I did my son was interstate. I actually cursed myself for not having any unemployed friends without children as I figured they’d actually be ideal!
‘We’ve all Been there...’ have we..? REALLY? I think this has the potential to be misleading and perhaps even damaging because ‘there’ could be;
•A traumatic birth
•An unwell baby
•An unsettled baby
•An unwell/unsettled baby
•Lack of support
•Struggling with caring for older siblings too
A myriad of other experiences that I can not even begin to do justice by listing...
If your dealing with any single or combination of the experiences above including the ones I’ve not listed you are no doubt feeling consumed by it/them. Being with others in your subset who have no experience of what it is your dealing with while your up to your neck dealing with it... I can imagine that must feel terribly lonely and isolating. No doubt some other new mother in the world HAS dealt with similar or IS THERE with you, but chances of finding that new mother in your subset... not impossible (ESPECIALLY if you share what your experiencing) but it’s not a certainty either.
So, my top three tips for overcoming loneliness in early motherhood?
1. Speak up! Seek out support where you will be HEARD, because your uniquely individual experience of early motherhood MATTERS and there are people, including professionals such as myself who will work with you on ways to connect with others and feel less alone.
2. Take the message your being TOLD ‘ your not alone, we’ve all been there’ and SPEAK it in your own voice;
‘I am not alone in my feelings of feeling alone...’
‘Some new mother somewhere in the world is going through what I’m going through...’
There is immense power in the messages we tell ourselves, and have been numerous studies proving the effectiveness of such self affirmations.
3. Perhaps even pause for one exact minute (maybe even right now as you’ve just finished reading this!) To sit and appreciate the power that is the creation of 250 new mothers, and draw some strength from the collective wisdom that is our shared motherhood- encompassing all kinds of motherhood experiences