When Adding a Baby Means Losing Friends

When adding a baby means losing friendsSome women are lucky enough to be pregnant at the same time as a close friend, sister-in-law, cousin or sibling. But sometimes, you may be the only person you know with kids. Having a baby catapults you into another world, and sometimes not everyone makes the leap with you.

Immediately after you have a baby, most women are in a position they are not used to being in. After being the one who is always there for their friends and family, they are suddenly in need to help—lots of help. You may need someone to come and hold the baby just so you can take a shower. Your house might be a total wreck, which can be hard if you’ve taken a lot of pride in having a neat home. You may find yourself eating out a lot because you can’t manage to get through the grocery store with that tiny baby.  If you worked before baby, you had a whole network of people you saw every day. You had tons of stimulation, things to talk about, and things to do. Now, you may feel like the new baby is your whole world and that he or she is all you talk about. And while that’s as it should be when you’re a new mom, some of your friends, coworkers, and family may not understand.

This transition can affect your immediate family, too. Some dads have time off available to use right after the birth of a new baby, or they may be able to take Paternity leave or FMLA to spend time at home. Many dads don’t have this option. If you are having trouble communicating with your partner or your relationship just doesn’t seem to be adjusting to parenthood, check out marriage counseling. You don’t have to be on the verge of divorce to get counseling—having a baby changes your relationship and how you relate to each other. It’s totally normal to get help in finding your new happy place as a family.

Keep in mind that people have a variety of reasons for laying low after the birth of a new baby. Friends who are having fertility issues may have a very hard time being around a new mom. Often, fertility doctors advise patients to avoid these situations because of the emotional stress it causes them, so give your friends the benefit of the doubt in case this just hasn’t been something they felt comfortable sharing with you.

Other friends—and sometimes family–may resent the fact that you don’t have all that extra emotional energy to support them anymore. You can tell this is the case if they get annoyed or angry that you aren’t available for them, if they don’t seem at all interested in you or the baby, or if they just seem to disappear after it’s obvious that you are busy with your new addition. You should never feel guilty about putting your family or your baby first. It’s important to have me-time and time with your friends, but it’s not always possible right at the beginning. Having a new baby is an intense transition from your old life, and becoming a parent will absolutely change you and how you look at the world.

If your friends are concerned about you, or you feel like you are withdrawing from things you used to enjoy or people you used to enjoy being around, research post-partum depression or take an online assessment, and ask those closest to you if they are concerned about you. Depression closes you off from others and can make you feel very alone even when you are surrounded by people who love and care for you.

Some relationships won’t be able to survive this transition to motherhood, and that’s OK. Part of this transition includes making new friends and reconnecting with old friends who have also become moms and understand what it feels like to be home all day with an infant, or how heartbreaking it is to leave your baby while you work and provide for your family. Motherhood is full of hard choices, and it’s great to know other moms who understand what it’s like to make those choices every day.

Facebook, your local birth center or cloth diaper shop, La Leche League, MOPS, and your local library are all great places to meet other new moms in your area. Many birth centers have mom groups available for moms with newborns who need support and resources, even if you didn’t birth there. The Badass Breastfeeder also has a Facebook group where you can find your local “mama tribe” of moms who are looking for support and friendship.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three girls. She lives and writes in Queensbury, New York. 

Tags: la leche league, mama tribe, mom's groups, MOPS, new mom, post partum depression, therapy

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