Diaper blowouts, inconsolable screams and sleepless nights, these are hallmarks of new parenthood that many seek to warn us about. But what often falls off this list? How lonely the first weeks and months of motherhood can be. Once your partner has gone back to work, being alone with your baby for hours on end can be overwhelming, isolating and a bit scary too.
In its winter issue, The Journal of Perinatal Education stressed the importance of beating loneliness postpartum. According to this source, isolated moms were more likely to have sleep disturbances and lowered immunity – not to mention a totally lousy new motherhood experience. What can you do to stay connected after your baby arrives? We have a few suggestions.
1. Be flexible
Of all the essential life skills parenting will teach you, patience and flexibility are two that will carry you far in life. During pregnancy, you most likely have the freedom to come and go as you please, meeting with friends when you'd like. Once baby arrives, you'll be exhausted, harried and at the mercy of feeding and nap times. All of this to say that staying connected to your community requires a great deal of flexibility on your part. Maybe you're used to Sunday morning brunch with your girlfriends or yoga on Thursday evenings. At least for a little while, you'll have to rearrange your schedule. Have your pals over for a casual coffee date while baby sleeps or nurses. Sign up for a mom and baby yoga class, or find another mom in your area to join you in stroller walks with your little ones.
2. Get time away
If you're nursing, you may feel tethered to your baby for months on end. With a two-hour feeding schedule, you have little time to escape without your son or daughter. Give it a month or two for your milk supply to even out and then plan on pumping a few bottles of milk for some time away from your child. Have your husband, parent or sibling sign up for baby duty while you visit the movie theater or go shopping with friends.
3. Join a group
Especially handy for anyone whose friends don't yet have kids, mom groups can expand your friend circle and keep you connected. Search online for other moms in your area through sites like meetup.com and hellomamas.com. You can even join groups now, while you're still pregnant, to have a support system in place before your little one arrives.
How do you plan to stay connected to your friends and family once your baby arrives? Share your tips with other expectant moms in our comments below.