Becoming a mother is one of the most wonderful life experiences, but it is also among the most challenging. Not least, it would seem, because the journey can be so excruciatingly lonely.
For many new mums, the transition from an 8 hour working day to a 24 hour one can certainly be a shock to the system. But nothing takes its toll more, perhaps, than the lack of all adult interaction.
Yes, there’s a beautiful new baby for company, but the fact that over 80% of mums under 30 are thought to feel lonely (according to a report by the British Red Cross and the Co-Op) goes to show that baby chat - however cute - is not the same as the grown up conversations that mental and emotional wellbeing hinge on.
Quite why adult company is so limited during maternity leave is not as simple as being absent from the workplace. There are deeper, more complex reasons as well.
1️⃣ The exhaustion of sleep deprivation and lack of readily available babysitters often makes going out socially less of an option.
2️⃣ The high cost of childcare limits the potential for returning to work.
3️⃣ The sheer difficulty involved in leaving the house often means spending prolonged periods within the same four walks.
4️⃣ The perfect parenting images that social media portrays can leave many mums with a feeling that they are losing at the most natural of human feats - procreation - and this can be difficult and isolating in itself.
5️⃣ Meeting other new mums is not always easy. Having childbirth in common doesn’t necessarily guarantee a social connection, and organising meet ups can be thwarted by the reasons highlighted in no.3, mixed with conflicting nap times etc.
6️⃣ The nocturnal nature of motherhood has much to answer for when it comes to loneliness. In the early hours, it’s easy to feel like the only person in the whole world who's not asleep.
7️⃣ Lastly, there’s the matter of body image, and the lack of self-recognition that can, in a lot of cases, leave many new mums feeling lost.
Brianna Flowerday sums it up perfectly:
‘No one really tells you how lonely being a parent can be, particularly a stay at home Mum. Funny how you can be lonely but also never left alone, with a toddler at your toes. I definitely find myself looking at theclock waiting for hubbys home time, not for the help but for the company. But regardless, I wouldn’t have it any other way. My little dude, and soon to be dudes are the best little friends I’d wanna spend my days with.’