Bringing a newborn home from the hospital is exciting and joyful, but the mental and physical exhaustion can be overwhelming. While these types of emotions can be anticipated, the intensity cannot.
This can hold true for new mothers. Psychology Today writes, “One might think that having a newborn by your side (or on you) virtually every minute of the day and night would lead to the opposite problem – to craving alone time. But while new mothers might feel extremely connected to their newborn, they often feel extremely disconnected from everyone else – including their spouse.”
Contributors to loneliness
Understand that as a parent of a newborn, you are NOT alone! Here is why you might be experiencing this unanticipated loneliness.
• Sleep deprived parents who need to tend to a baby, for what feels like 24 hours per day, often don’t have the time for each other. It ultimately has an affect on a couple’s relationship.
• Tension also builds between wanting to keep up friendships and other social relationships but being too tired or too anxious about being away from your baby. A recent study suggests that approximately 55 percent of new moms miss their pre-baby social life.
• There can be a loss of identity, while trying to figure out how to manage your new life, all while trying to care the precious newborn.
• For some mothers, it’s a fear or worry that you might be doing something wrong or being judged by others.
How to overcome
Here are some different strategies for overcoming those feelings of loneliness.
• Use social media to connect with groups of parents or mothers who are facing similar situations. More than 80 percent of mothers are participate in social media support groups, and over 50 percent of those say they are receiving the social and emotional support they need.
• Venture out, with or without new baby, because those four walls can be confining. Look for area support groups at the library or hospital which offer parent and baby socialization time.
• Use FaceTime or live video apps to talk to those people you need the most but live too far away. This still allows you to feel connected to your strongest supporters.
• Create a play date. Invite other friends over with small children or family over. Don’t worry about your house being sparkling clean … they are there to visit YOU!
• Under no circumstances should you feel guilty asking for help. Friends and family want to help you feel like yourself again, so take them up on their offers to give you some free time.
• Give it time. It takes a new mom almost six months to get into a “groove” for family living. The feeling of loneliness will not last forever.
From Lisa-Jo Baker’s Blog, I will leave you with her thoughts …
“Falling in love can take time — give it to yourself and your newborn in truckloads. Leave the dishes, say yes to friends who bring meals, let go of getting all the laundry done and folded and put away all in the same day. Find at least one person that you can tell how you’re really doing when they ask. It gets better. It does get better.”
Carrie Kube is a director for Iowa River Valley Early Childhood Area Board. All thoughts and opinions expressed are that of the author and not the board and/or its community partners.