It's normal, but we still need strategies to get through it and come out stronger on the other side.
Why do so many mothers feel so alone?
Motherhood is the most marvelous thing in life, but for many moms, even if they feel incredibly blessed and excited, loneliness can creep in.
Hormones play a role: estrogen and progesterone levels fall abruptly after giving birth, and they can unleash ups and downs. But there are many other contributing factors as well: getting used to your new life as a mother, taking care of the baby and the older children, spending days and nights focused on taking care of the newborn, recovering while the body is assimilating everything in order to get back to normalcy … the challenges are many.
Not infrequently, new moms find themselves fighting feelings of loneliness and anxiety, exhaustion, longing for past times, sadness over the changes in their body, or rough patches in their marriage. It’s all normal, but we do need strategies to get through it and come out stronger on the other side.
How to fight loneliness
- Be honest about how you feel. Sometimes it’s hard for us to admit that we feel lonely, because we’re supposed to be living a joyous time as new mothers. Identifying the problem is critical so that we can act.
- Take care of your communication with your husband. It could be that your husband doesn’t even realize that you feel lonely, and when you tell him what’s going on, he’ll have the opportunity to take a step forward and help. Communication, especially after the birth, is vital. Husbands need their wives just as much as we need them. Talk about other possible solutions with him, and if you’re a single mom, ask your friends or relatives to help you when you need it.
- Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Loneliness often goes hand-in-hand with letting ourselves go. Anyone would be depressed if she stayed locked inside in her pajamas all day. It’s easy to focus all our attention on the children and forget ourselves, but we need to remember that if we’re doing well, the kids will benefit. Shower before your husband leaves in the morning, do your hair, put your makeup on if you wear it regularly, and buy new clothes. If you look good, you’ll feel better.
- Surround yourself with other moms who can back you up. There is nothing more fruitful or empowering than two women sharing their experiences. It’s a big help to have a community of people who understand what you’re thinking and going through. So we need to meet mothers!
- Get out of the house. Go out with or without the baby (if you have a babysitter). Go for a walk or have coffee with a friend whenever you get the chance. Don’t have time to call anyone? Join a local support group.
- Skype or FaceTime. You can keep a video chat open for hours with your relatives or friends. You don’t have to talk all the time, but just seeing each other during the day or in the evening can make you feel like you’re there with them, and that can alleviate the feelings of loneliness.
- Talk to your doctor if you see signs of depression. You may be experiencing postpartum depression. If two or three weeks have gone by and the symptoms get worse, or if you or your husband notice that you’re in a pit of depression, contact your doctor. If you act quickly, you can avoid major anguish — postpartum depression can go on for months if left untreated — and you’ll have a much more positive experience of new motherhood.
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This article was originally published in the Spanish edition of Aleteia and has been translated and/or adapted here for English speaking readers.