My maternity leave diary: I’m so lonely!
During maternity leave some new mums completely thrive, embracing every single second with their baby. Yet for other mums maternity leave can result in them feeling lonely and isolated.
Loneliness on maternity leave is a completely normal emotion for several new mothers, with many feeling lonely since giving birth and others feel like they have no friends.
Don’t feel guilty for not being able to shake the overwhelming lonely feelings, despite being completely in love with your new baby. This is all too common for many mums, so please know that you’re not alone.
We asked members of our Parent Squad to share their maternity leave loneliness experience with us, and they have courageously communicated their stories below.
“I found baby classes were extremely clicky”
Katie: “I think baby classes can be extremely hit or miss. We tried to go to lots, and I found (at least in my area) they are extremely clicky. The mums all knew each other and weren’t welcoming towards new mums.
We did some music groups, some craft groups, messy play groups, swimming as well. The people running each group tried really hard to be inclusive and get everyone talking to each other, but it just didn’t happen. It was quite sad because you think you’re all in the same boat really.”
“I literally have no one…”
Aimee: “Both my parents have passed and I have very few friends and even less since having children. It’s so lonely. Sometimes it brings me to tears.”
“Once the initial novelty of a new baby wears off everyone disappears!”
Katie: “I felt really lonely on my maternity leave. Of course I loved having my daughter and spending time with her, but so many friends and family say they are going to be there and can’t wait to spend time with you and the baby and do things, and once the initial novelty of a new baby wears off everyone disappears.
It felt really hard to reach out then too, because you feel like they’ve said they wanted to spent time with you, you’ve said you’re looking forward to it, then they don’t include you. So how do you reach out to them? I also found having so much alone time gave me far too much time to over think and over analyse everything.
For us, I made it a priority to get out of the house at least once a day. Even if it was just putting the baby in her pram and going for a little walk. It definitely helped a lot, and gave us a target to achieve each day.
It also helped that I had a fantastic friend who saw how isolated I was feeling, and reached out. She gave up her day off each week and we’d go for a walk, or to the park, or for a coffee. Nothing spectacular, but those Tuesdays gave me something to look forward to each week!”
“The loneliness is absolutely crippling…”
Lyla: “I was extremely lonely. I had a NICU baby who was in and out of hospital. I was absolutely besotted with my little man but I felt so deserted. I was unwell after I had given birth too so I wasn’t able to go out to many places, I had to stay close to home in case Xavier got unwell (home was a safe place for me.)
I also breastfed and unfortunately people found it odd. I was left out so much, I had two friends meet up with me but apart from that everyone just stopped messaging or replying. It got worse when I was pregnant with my second 4 months after and maternity leave with him was even worse.
This needs to be discussed more, it isn’t, but it needs to be! I didn’t get much support unfortunately but I leant on my partner, my mum and I found solace in amazing mum groups on FB! I would love there to be more help, I’m not sure what help can be done but there needs to be more to address it.
The loneliness is absolutely crippling and I found myself heartbroken going from talking to everyone and no one talking to me much.”
“I was totally unprepared for how lonely maternity leave was.”
Amanda: “I went from working full time to being home all the time and found it really difficult. This led to me feeling guilty about finding it hard. Luckily I have very good friends but not everyone does and I think that it’s something that should be spoken about more before you have your baby.
I’m currently on maternity leave with my third child and finding it much better this time around. I make a point of getting out every day even if it’s just to walk around the shops!”
“I spent most days cleaning just to feel like I was doing something!”
Aimee: “This is something I think should be spoken about a lot more than it is. I felt so isolated while on mat leave. We live in a flat, so it wasn’t easy to get out and about down two flights of stairs on my own with a baby.
I always got really bad anxiety when I thought of going to a baby class. I spent most days cleaning just to feel like I was doing something with my time off. Friends came to see me when they could and helped me get out of the flat more, but obviously they worked most of the week.
Some days I’d feel so isolated I’d sit watching people out the window and cry all day. I’d say maternity leave is the lowest I’ve ever felt, even though it was also the happiest time of my life having my new baby. It’s such a confusing time for new mums and there should be more stuff to help!”
“Those friends I thought would be there disappeared…”
Samantha: “Maternity is so lonely. Everyone’s so interested in your baby but after a few weeks everyone disappears. I suffered really bad anxiety with my daughter, I didn’t want to leave the house.
Those friends I thought would be there disappeared no matter how many times they said ‘I’ll be here for you.’ Thankfully my parents helped so much with this. Everyone talks about the changes to your body but there’s nothing on what happens to your identity and the loneliness that comes with it.”
“I turned to social media for help but that just made it worse!”
Rinn: “Omg! Where to start…
When my girl was born I had never felt love like it! My partner was lucky enough to take 4 weeks off. We sat in a beautiful baby bubble and had lots of visitors coming to coo over our beautiful little angel! I looked forward to a whole 9 months of being at home with her!
Then he went back to work and the visitors stopped. All was okay at first, we got our own little routine going but some days he was at work until 8pm. Our girl had CMPA and reflux and it took a while to get it under control (she was around 12 weeks before the milk and medication kicked in.)
It was winter when she was born so lots of rain and lots of snow. The thought of getting dressed, let alone dressing a baby and dragging us both out of the door was a complete chore. I mainly spent my days Googling: ‘is this normal’ binge watching TV and napping with my girl. Whilst to some that might sound like heaven for me it was complete hell.
All my friends either worked full time, or had kids of their own. I lived over 4 miles away from family (and I don’t drive) the overwhelming feeling of loneliness was completely crippling. I turned to social media for help but that just made it worse. Pictures of people’s newborns sleeping peacefully, people telling me how amazing it was being a mum. I sat crying covered in vomit trying desperately to get my baby to feed, to stop screaming! I thought I was doing something wrong! That I was a bad mum!
As she got older social media made things worse still. People telling me that their 6 week olds were sleeping through.
It all changed when we decided to get our daughter christened! The lovely baptisms visitor came out and asked if we went to any playgroups. I said we didn’t and wasn’t sure what was round here. She gave me all the information and told me to come along to the group! I went when Athena was around 5 months old and it was the best thing I ever did!
She didn’t care…she couldn’t care less…but guess what? I spoke to other mums, REAL ones. There were people whose babies didn’t sleep through still. People whose babies had CMPA and reflux, people who understood how hard it was being a mum and they reached out and assured me ‘it gets easier!’
As she got older we went to more amazing groups and I met more and more people! I started to enjoy maternity leave!
If I could give one tip to any mum – it would be: ‘go to your local mum and toddler groups.’ Some people might feel shy, some people might be scared. It will be full of ‘perfect mums’ but the reality is when you’re there, face to face, there’s nowhere to hide. Not like you can hide when you’re on social media…”
“After 5 months I became very depressed and struggled to pick myself back up from that”
Melissa: “I felt very lonely after having my daughter. I tried baby groups but found them very ‘clicky’ and struggled to make friends. After 5 months I became very depressed and struggled to pick myself back up from that. The only thing that helped me was getting a job.
I now work 3 times a week and really enjoy my 1-1 time with my daughter rather than dreading it. My husband was an absolute hero through all of it. I couldn’t have kept going without him!”
“I struggled A LOT with my first!”
Gemma: “I felt isolated and lonely and extremely anxious constantly. This was compounded by the fact that everyone around me seemed to be living ‘perfect lives’ documented on Instagram which made me feel like I was failing and unable to speak up. I decided to start up a real life parenting blog to promote the ‘real life’ of parenting (rather than the ‘perfect life’) the daily ups and downs, in a bid to spread the message that your best is good enough.
I feel happier in the knowledge now that I will never be a supermum (no one is) and I have stopped trying to achieve this. To all the mummies out there, you are doing a great job, carry on doing what you’re doing, you are great, just how you are!”
“Maternity leave for me was about making new friends.”
Merridan: “I didn’t have that many friends to start off with anyway due to work commitments, and whilst I had some lovely colleagues they all lived quite far away from me. There is a mum and baby group and a coffee morning, I was welcomed along to both of these before my baby came and I made so many friends, all who live within 5 minutes of me.
Everyone is down to earth but different, we aren’t afraid to say our kids have been pains and it’s refreshing, plus they all help each other. I’ve loved being on maternity leave, I’m going to be sad to go back to work, albeit part time.”
“I didn’t have anyone to share things with or play dates”
Can: “I found maternity leave very lonely. You tend to lose contact with friends and I don’t know anyone who was pregnant or had a baby around the time that I did. So I didn’t have anyone to share things with or play dates. I don’t drive and I have to get the bus to see family, which at times I found difficult with postnatal depression and anxiety.
I managed to pluck up the courage to attend a baby group for the sake of my son, as I felt guilty he had no interaction with other babies. Although the club was friendly, I feel like the mums had already made their cliques and I found myself sat on the end with no adult interaction.
My son is now 16 months, and due to family bereavements in that time I didn’t feel able to go back to work when my maternity leave was coming to the end, so I took a few more months. I’m about to start back work part time in a new job and I’m petrified of meeting new people and interacting after so long.
Looking back now, if I were to have another baby I think I’d join some baby groups on Facebook for my local area, and try to make friends with mums who are also pregnant. So maternity maybe wouldn’t be so lonely next time round.”
“I don’t know where my friends have gone – but I rarely see them!”
Jade: “I imagined this constant stream of visitors all excited to see my baby. The reality was people came to visit once or twice and are always ‘busy’ when I try and see them again. I also very quickly stopped being invited to things because people ‘presumed’ I’d not want to go out drinking etc.
In fact some of my closest friends haven’t met my son yet…he’s almost 7 months old.
I went to mother and baby groups but often felt like I didn’t fit in. I found it hard to find other first time mums that were a similar age to me.
It absolutely should be more widely discussed. At the point my husband went back to work I felt so lost and desperately lonely. I wasn’t ready to face the world on my own after just 2 weeks. I was still nowhere near established with breastfeeding either and wouldn’t have been able to eat and drink had he not been there.
I took a picture of my first day without my husband helping, to remind myself that those feelings of utter loneliness and despair happen – but they come and go. My love and happiness for my little baba outweighs it all!”
This content was originally published here.