Feeling Lonely or Isolated After Having a Baby in Mind
Feeling lonely as a young parent is very common. Our Ping young pregnancy and parenting group share their experiences and advice, and we share ways to identify how you may be feeling and how to tackle it.
“Loneliness is particularly difficult as a young parent when you don't necessarily have the support network that older parents do. In my area there are no teenage/young parent baby groups, and I struggle to fit in with both my peers (because I have a baby) and older mums at toddler groups (because I am a lot younger than most of them).”
Young Mothers in particular are more likely to experience postpartum depression and feelings of isolation and low self-esteem. You might be the only one of your friends to have had a baby and they may not understand what it’s like to be a parent. Meeting new friends can be difficult too and often baby groups have older Mums and Dads with little in common with you.
“None of my friends have had babies, and didn't know how to act when I was pregnant and post birth. They kept inviting me to the same events, parties and days out as I attended before being a parent, not understanding that I can't drop everything to go out clubbing, or even just for a coffee. They became frustrated, especially if I'd randomly stop messaging them because I've had to jump up and stop my daughter climbing the bookcase, then forget to message them back. This is probably true of a lot of parents, but older mums and dads tend to have other older friends who have also got kids so understand, or they are more mature.”
How to Combat Loneliness
It can be difficult just to get out the house when your baby is young, but it can help you get back into a routine and improve your mental health. Men can also feel lonely, tired and down, especially in the first year of your baby’s life. It’s important for Mums and Dads to have time alone and with friends.
- Find a baby class with a focus such as baby massage or sensory class. This will allow you to bond with your baby but also means you don’t have to chat to other mums or dads if you don’t want to.
- You might not want to go to a group and that’s OK. There are lots of places online you can connect with other people your age. Try apps such as MUSH for meeting other parents.
- “I plan trips with friends far in advance, usually about 1 month. We agree to keep the day completely free, knowing that I can't easily rearrange. It's important to plan instead of trying to randomly organise things the day before. I think it's also important to tell them what's going on. Tell them outright that you don't have the freedom that you did before, and that you can't just leave the house when you fancy. Sometimes they don't realise, and appreciate being told.”
- “Social media is great to keep in touch, however it's also a double-edged sword. Seeing my friends get accepted to do study abroad, travelling across Europe for the summer, starting a new job, or even something as simple as going for a coffee on their own, was hard sometimes.”
- “The best place I made friends was actually in church, where the kids go off for their children's church and you get a break for a bit. Then afterwards all the parents chatted, regardless of age. It’s not for everyone, but I really look forward to seeing other parents on Sundays.”
Spotting Postnatal Depression
Feeling lonely can be linked to postpartum depression.
There are other signs of postnatal depression to look out for:
- Feeling hopeless
- A constant feeling of sadness and low mood
- Not enjoying activities or hobbies that you used to
- Feeling tired or no energy all the time
- Struggling to concentrate
- Feeling that you're unable to look after your baby
- Feeling grumpy, angry or that you don’t care about anything
- Big changes in appetite
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Not sleeping at night and feeling sleepy during the day
- Thought of harming your baby
- Thoughts of suicide and self-harm