January 23, 2024

How to Cope with Loneliness and Isolation in Motherhood

Motherhood is quite an amazing journey. It comes with so many joys and happy moments. Nonetheless, days can be lonely. Learn how to deal with loneliness in motherhood and find joy as a (new) mom.

Table of Contents

You’re not the only mother feeling alone

You might wake up from a crying baby after a short, broken night. No one else can do what needs to be done today besides you. Even though you love your baby dearly, days can be hard, and feelings of loneliness creep in.

Many new mums are feeling lonely in their postpartum period and beyond. You’re not alone.

Disclaimer: I’m not a medical expert. The post on this site is for educational purposes only and does not substitute professional medical advice.

Feelings of loneliness as a first-time mother

Elderly people get lonely, right? Not young, fit, ladies in their twenties. the thirties and forties. RIGHT?! Then how come these lonely feelings keep coming back?

Sounds familiar? If we’re honest here and you’re a (new) mom, the answer is probably yes. And rest assured you’re not the only one. You may have felt lonely to some degree.

I write this, partly from my own experience and partly from what I heard from other moms. The feelings of loneliness are kind of taboo for new mothers. Parenthood should be all bliss and new motherhood enjoyable, right? Admittedly, it’s hard to acknowledge that new mums are not always feeling that way about the new baby.

Loneliness and emotional isolation are very common things new mothers are facing. Hopefully, this post will be an encouragement to you. Read on to be encouraged and find practical advice on dealing with negative feelings and feelings of isolation leaving you with a sense of loneliness.

Is maternal loneliness normal?

The short answer is yes, being a mom can be lonely. Probably not for all moms. But if most mothers were honest, I think we’ve all had our share of loneliness.

As a mom, you have to do a lot by yourself. There is just no one else to nurse the baby. Sometimes the baby just wants you. And if your husband is already off to work, there is no one else to get the younger siblings dressed, fed, and off to school or start their homeschooling. This can give you a feeling of overwhelm which can trigger feelings of loneliness.

You got through many changes as a new mum. Your old life was very different and now you have to adjust to all things that come with this new season of life.

Unless you live in some kind of community, times have changed. Whereas in times past most women stayed at home to take care of the home and children. Nowadays most neighbourhoods have empty houses during the day. Leaving moms on maternity leave and stay-at-home mothers alone. The sense of caring for each other is mostly gone and social isolation has gone up.

Back in the day, mothers could come over for a cup of coffee in the morning and find social connections with other new mums during tea time. Children could play together and this was a wonderful opportunity for new moms to share their own experiences and struggles.

When loneliness creeps in

An exciting new phase in life starts when you’re expecting your first child. Now you can tell everyone there’s a new family addition coming soon. Sweet, tiny clothes, carefully chosen toys and little things for the baby’s room are slowly making their way into the family home. This is a lovely phase of motherhood and one that you should enjoy.

For some mothers, the feeling of loneliness comes in right at this phase. While you were thrilled when you saw the positive pregnancy test it could very well be that those feelings of joy were soon overshadowed by feelings of (all-day) morning sickness.

At some time you may feel quite well and at other moments you just want to crash down on the couch, pull a cover over your head, and just lie down, forever. This brand-new experience perhaps wasn’t quite what you expected.

Some people around you, often those who experienced a similar situation or close friends, might be understanding of the situation. Others, may not.

While I could recall many situations and feelings that can come across I don’t want to waste too much of your energy and just tell you what might be a wise choice if you’re dealing with loneliness in this stage of motherhood.

Caring for your mental health during pregnancy

Usually in the first and second trimesters of a pregnancy, people assume most ladies just feel right. Your pregnancy bump is not that big (yet!) and you have some time before the due date. And maybe you do feel all right. Great! Keep it up & enjoy these special stages.

But, some women do not feel very great. Maybe you feel horrible, the whole pregnancy. That may not be what you expected being pregnant would feel like, but it is very possible. If you feel like you have to live up to other people’s expectations, that can put a lot of pressure on you.

It’s important to remember that among best friends, family, and well-meaning people around you, you are the only one who knows how you feel. If you don’t feel like going to that best friend’s birthday party even if it’s “just” your 8th week of pregnancy, that’s fine. You’re entering a new season of life and that means that things will change.

Find the support you need during pregnancy

I would encourage you to call on friends or family members that do understand how you feel. Or that at least try to understand you and are willing to help.

Surround yourself with people who have your best interest and you feel encouraged by this new season of life. Not the ones that make you doubt.

No one has to tell you that it’s not that hard or that you can’t feel that nauseous you cannot come over. You know when you don’t feel great. There’s no one else that can feel that for you.

Be confident to say “No, thank you. Maybe some other time when I feel better”. The ones in your social circle that won’t understand will probably be the ones that won’t support you anyway. The ones who do and maybe even do a little extra for you are the ones you need right now.

Connecting with young mothers during pregnancy

Many first-time parents have a longing to find other new parents to interact with.

You all have sleepless nights and struggles as first-time parents. These social interactions as new parents provide an opportunity to share and care for each other in this new season of life.

Older adults who have gone through parenthood are super-valuable sources of wisdom for first-time parents. So, do not neglect to ask the older family member or woman in church for advice. She probably knows a lot more about pregnancy and motherhood than you can imagine.

So, start socializing with other new moms during your pregnancy. Join mom groups, engage with older parents and build new social relationships.

Loneliness in motherhood: postpartum

You welcomed a precious little one and are trying to enjoy it. But honestly, you don’t. At all. You haven’t slept a good night’s sleep in weeks or even months. Your baby signals (again!) that he’s hungry. You feel exhausted.

Perhaps you wonder, why am I not liking this? All we want is here, this precious baby. Instead, you feel you’re in survival mode. How can anyone have more than one child?!

Don’t forget here that your body is full of hormones right now. Normally, you have moments of insecurity and doubt. Make it easy for yourself. In those first few weeks, only do those things you feel comfortable with. Give yourself, your baby, and your family some time to adapt.

It’s wise to surround yourself with close friends, mom friends, and other parents, a group of women who know how you feel. Build a circle of social support. And, if you don’t have close friends, there are online communities and social networks that can be very supportive. This season is tough as a new parent, but it will pass.

This too shall pass

Baby gets older, you get a little more sleep, and routines are slowly coming back. Your baby found a rhythm so you don’t have to get up in the middle of the night. It feels like life is getting a bit back to normal. You may understand your child a little better and are slowly feeling better yourself.

Because your child is so dependent on you, you need to be there almost all the time. Since your baby was born, your “me-time” has probably decreased significantly, and the lack of sleep doesn’t help either.. You can’t just go anywhere, anytime, because your little one might need you. Likely, you can’t even finish a task at home because your baby may need you in the middle of your sewing project.

Trust me, you will gain more confidence as time passes. Your free time and alone time will come back. Maybe not exactly as it used to be, but as time passes you’ll be able to accept your new role as a mother and embrace this new life.

Postpartum depression

Feelings of loneliness and overwhelm as a new mom are normal and will settle. You should however seek advice from your midwife or doctor in these cases:

  • The sad feelings and feelings of loneliness get worse
  • You get confused (maybe even thinking this baby isn’t mine)
  • You have feelings of wanting to harm yourself or the baby
  • You’re worried about your baby’ health

If you doubt if you have postpartum depression, seek medical advice. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, being a new mom and saying goodbye to the old life can be hard.

Free Checklist 10 Must-Have Natural Newborn Baby Essentials

A real-life example of loneliness in motherhood

This might sound like a very silly example, but let’s say you want to go out to the grocery store. You dread the task of dressing baby and getting him all ready for his car seat. You need to get yourself from your post-partum outfit into something that still fits and then make sure you’re out of the store by the time the baby is hungry again.

Then, the thought of having to fold in the stroller when you finished shopping. On a full parking place, thinking that everyone is watching your every (clumsy) move trying to fit the stroller back in the car.

Can I ever go out again?

Well, first of all, not everyone is watching you… :) Second, you’ll probably be fine folding the stroller and putting it in the car.

But really, if that stresses you out and you don’t feel comfortable. Don’t do it. At least not at that time. Just practice at home folding that stroller until you do feel comfortable.

This too shall pass (but do enjoy it(!), looking back you won’t regret that). There will be a time when you’ll be able to go out again and not worry about a hungry baby or folding strollers. Just take it easy for now. All first times can be hard, but you’ll gain confidence. Really.

Feeling confident as a first-time mother

To illustrate how being a mother can make you unsure about the seemingly simplest of things I mentioned the example above. In the early days, I can remember feeling unconfident when I became a mom myself.

But, the good news is you will gain confidence as time goes by. Hormones will somewhat settle and you will have eight straight hours of sleep & feel better again.

I have always loved the phrase: “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world”. We, mothers, have a very special task. Sometimes it might feel like a huge, impossible one, but if you’re determined to give it your best, you will see the fruit of your labor. Howbeit, that will not be tomorrow. Focus on the long term.

How to find joy in motherhood

You can be a joyful mother, enjoying this phase of life. Despite the hard times. These practical questions can give you a nudge in the direction that might be right for you.

  • Find some alone time, every week. Ask your husband or a close friend to take care of your little one(s). Make sure you can be alone and you won’t be interrupted. As little as an hour of uninterrupted time can make a huge difference.
  • Ask yourself: “How am I doing?”, “What do I need?”. Write down a few things that would make you feel better, and do them.
  • Take some time to read. Read your Bible, and take an hour to read your favorite book. Write in your diary. Buy the latest edition of your favorite magazine.
  • Think about next week. Make a global plan of your planning for the week. When will you shop for groceries? Do you have any special occasions you need to prepare for? Plan when you’re going to prepare for it too! What are some fun activities you plan on doing this week?
  • Also, check for hormone-related issues when you feel sad regularly & you suspect a link between your mood and your cycle. Leisha Drews from Life Abundant Wellness is an excellent source of information on healthy living & hormone-related issues.
  • Share your story with other mothers. Whether that be online or in person. Older mothers can give you advice and perspective. They can assure you what is normal, what is right, and how long you can expect things to be like they are.

Accepting change as a first-time mother

Above all, accept the phase of life you’re in right now. This time will pass. But it has its beauty too. Motherhood will form you like nothing, it will give you life experiences that might make you the perfect person to help someone else in the future.

Also, it will teach you patience, diligence, perseverance, and hope. Count your blessings. They are there. Sometimes we just need to focus on them more… :)

Doodle for sourdough raisin bread

Pin for later

A basket full of neutral colored laundry to support the post about loneliness in motherhood

E-mail subscription the Haven of Rest

Sign up for a naturally simple life!