The Lonely Postpartum and How to Break Out of It

It seems too often the excitement is all before the baby arrives and right after birth— then the momma is left alone in her own world of overflowing milk and diapers. Few friends call or text to check up on the new mom anymore, or stop by to just say hi and perhaps bring a meal over. We move into mothering in silence, wishing for another adult to talk to daily.

Moms without kids may not understand the realities of motherhood and a disconnect happens. Or, friends may make plans to go out for an evening, while a new mom feels “trapped” by nursing schedules. I know that I’ve been there many times, and while it is just a season, it can be a hard one.

The postpartum time can be filled with loneliness. Though we are never really alone as we care of our new baby and any other children, or see our spouse after work, our days can still feel like we are an isolated island. I’ve found that people don’t want to call or text for fear of bothering me because they know I am busy with my family, or may be resting after birth. I have been guilty of the same mindset in my own friends after they welcomed a new family member. But, now I know the truth that us moms welcome that distraction and break when we can take it!

So how do we break out of our loneliness? Quite simply, we can’t rely only on others to do the reaching out to us in a life boat on our lonely island. We need to be proactive in our “rescue” just as Tom Hank’s character in the movie Cast Away built fires to show that he needed help from passing ships.

  • Tell your friends what you need! Our friends and family are those passing ships. They may not know that you are on that motherhood island feeling lonely. Share that you miss them and remind them that you would love to get together soon. Express your need for simply another adult to talk to! I had a friend tell me this lovingly after her birth where I had gone silent for fear of bothering her. It was great to know her expectations and that she still needed and wanted to talk to me– even if she was tired after birth. Build those “fires” on your island and ask for what you need.
  • Make weekly playdates with other moms. It does wonders to get out of your home to see different walls, to sit and nurse with other mommas, and compare baby notes or birth stories. If you don’t feel up to leaving the house yet? Invite them to you! Surrounding yourself with other moms who understand where you are right now can be so uplifting. Sure, it takes effort to pack up all those baby supplies to get out of the house or tidy up to have friends over, but it is well worth it. And really, they shouldn’t be there to see your house anyway, so who cares how tidy it is.
  • Don’t have momma friends yet? Find them. I have found the internet to be the best place to establish new friendships with mommas who are like-minded or in similar seasons of life. Usually Facebook groups exist for your specific area, or on Meet Up. If there isn’t one near you– make one! As an introvert myself, I like being able to share who I am in writing online and connecting with people there first and then being able to meet in person knowing what to talk about. Of course, be smart about who you meet up with from the internet. Meet in public places first, like a park or a mall play area so older kids can play, or bring your babies along to have lunch together.
  • Join library story or play times. Yes, these exist even for babies! Library story times are free and weekly, you can look to see what your library offers and when. There are also usually options locally for baby tummy time classes or mommy and me classes that incorporate fun toys and songs, or even swimming lessons together. It’s a great time for you to get out of the house once a week and meet new moms in your area, plus bonding with your baby in a new way.
  • Use the internet. On those days you can’t leave the house or have people over, the internet saves the day. Seriously, most of my friends live on the internet right now. I have five kids and currently four months postpartum. I work from home and my life is busy, but it helps knowing that I can just log onto Facebook and share my day with mom groups and we can commiserate in our loneliness, or text my best friend.
  • Practice self-care. We can feel even more lonely and lost in mothering if we aren’t “feeding” ourselves too with things we love– separate from motherhood. Don’t forget to make time to read a book, draw a picture, sew something, go for a run, whatever it is that makes you feel fulfilled about you as a person. I have one night a week set aside off of mommy duty to go do those things– whether I stay at home locked away in my office to write, or leave a bottle for daddy to completely take over for a few hours while I go have dinner with a friend.
  • Know this is a season. It won’t always be like this! This postpartum phase is such a sort blimp on our motherhood timeline. While we may be extra tired now and feeling like all we do is change diapers and feed the baby around the clock, we won’t always be in this place of our babies needing us so often. Treasure these fleeting moments of rocking and snuggles while doing what you can in this season to not sit in isolation– but to share it with others. And know, one day, you will be able to do more once again.