So, what can we do to combat this sense of isolation?
Whenever possible, prepare in pregnancy! Women spend so much time during their pregnancy preparing for childbirth and much less time preparing for the postpartum period. If you are pregnant now and going on maternity leave soon, do some research! Are there classes you might like to attend? Do you have friends who are also off? Connect with them now, find out what they do and if they will be around to spend time with. Talk to your family and friends about what you might need postpartum in terms of support and company. Forecast the need for support, if you have too much you can always scale back.
Take the plunge, even if it scares you, and go to local moms groups. Trust me, everyone going to these groups is going for the same reason as you; to get out of the house and to find a mom friend. They will not judge you. They will not wonder why you came. They will welcome you. If you don’t find your person right away, keep going or try another group. She is out there looking for you too.
Structure your week! If you notice that you feel overwhelmed as Sunday approaches and you look ahead to another week home with your baby, do yourself a favour and plan your week out. I usually suggest to have 2-3 planned activities set up. Maybe you’re arranging a play date, taking your baby to the pool, checking out the new library or meeting a work friend for coffee. Perhaps the alternate days you are grabbing groceries or listening to your favourite podcast while you meal prep for the week. However simple it might be, creating some structure to your week might make it feel less daunting. Even better, write it down, that’s one less thing to think or worry about.
This season of life with young children can be really hard and really lonely. It is unfortunate that we have to work hard to build up a support network for ourselves that traditionally would have been there. Despite this, for most women the need for social engagement and support is a fundamental aspect of feeling well postpartum.
So, in the absence of a village, build one, mama!
You can find Chelsea on Instagram and on Facebook. She provides "on-the-go" counselling to women and their partners to address mental health concerns during pregnancy and in the postpartum period.