How to Cope with Loneliness after Childbirth

December 3, 2019
In this article, we'll talk about loneliness after childbirth and how relationships and social support help women who have just had a baby.

Generally, bringing a baby into the world leads to a lot of joy and happiness. However, the first few months after giving birth are the hardest and aren’t always the happiest for some mothers, which is why many women ask themselves how to cope with loneliness after childbirth.

If a woman doesn’t have the necessary resources and support, she may endure a difficult postpartum. This can cause feelings of loneliness in a new mother. But… what’s loneliness after childbirth and how can you deal with it?

Causes of loneliness after childbirth

When you give birth, your whole world changes. Physical discomfort, coupled with the new responsibility as a mother and the mixed feelings between the desired baby and their actual presence, can make you feel alone with your newborn.

You may not know how to take care of your baby properly, despite all the information you collected from books or your pediatrician’s advice. All this information helps you care for your baby and make sure your body recovers. However, it isn’t enough for your emotional and physical health.

You must have a social circle that will accompany you in this new stage and help you understand it. However, nowadays, this is becoming increasingly difficult due to the fact that physical contact has reduced in social relationships.

“When you’re a mother, you’re never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.”

–Sophia Loren–

Physical and emotional vulnerability

The desire to be a good mother, the anguish of not knowing whether you’re doing it right, the feeling of fatigue or exhaustion… are things a new mother experiences with her newborn.

For these reasons, postpartum is a stage where a woman is both physically and emotionally vulnerable.

How to Cope with Loneliness after Childbirth

According to pharmacist Ana Monente, author of the book Cuídate mucho, mamá (in English: Take Care of Yourself, Mom), postpartum vulnerability is caused by several reasons:

  • Low mood.
  • Uncertainty about whether you’re taking care of your baby properly.
  • It’s the first time you’ll be doing certain things, such as changing a diaper or bathing a newborn
  • Your body changes. Your body will never be the same after pregnancy.

Risks that may accompany postpartum loneliness

Loneliness after childbirth can be induced by various risk factors. Paulina Sobarzo (2013) indicates that some of the psychosocial factors are a family history of depression, stressful life events, prenatal anxiety, or a bad relationship.

Moreover, there are other factors related to pregnancy and childbirth complications, emergency Caesarean section, and newborn hospital stay, among others. If you don’t deal with loneliness after childbirth, it can lead to the so-called “baby blues” or, ultimately, to depression.

“Baby blues” is characterized by insomnia, irritability, fatigue, and crying and it affects approximately 85% of mothers. It starts from the second to the fifth day after birth, reaching its peak on day seven and usually disappearing after two weeks.

On the other hand, postpartum depression is a disorder that occurs during the first year after giving birth. Its most common symptoms are excessive feelings of guilt, weight loss or gain, difficulty concentrating, or hypersomnia.

How to cope with loneliness after childbirth

First of all, you’ll need the help of your pediatrician and you should follow their advice. You also have to try to have all the possible information from other professional health and maternity specialists. In addition, another priority is to consider the most effective factor to cope with loneliness after childbirth: social support.

Currently, it’s becoming more common for women to experience pregnancy and postpartum far from the most intimate family and social environment. Family gatherings and cohabitation are becoming less common in our increasingly individualistic society. Therefore, it’s common nowadays for mothers to live most of their postpartum alone.

Postpartum and social support

According to Bowling, social support is the interactive process in which emotional, instrumental, or financial aid is obtained from one’s social network.

How to Cope with Loneliness after Childbirth

This means that the social support a mother receives exists insofar as she perceives it, in terms of security, support, and affection. In addition, a low level of social support affects health and can cause the onset of depression.

In short, a woman not only has to recover from childbirth and take care of her baby. It’s also necessary for her to receive social support that accompanies her and helps her emotionally in this wonderful new stage of her life. Because… what could be more important than creating life?

  • Sobarzo, P.S. (2013). Caracterización del apoyo social durante el postparto y la presencia de depresión materna. Universidad de Concepción. Chile: Concepción
  • Monente, A. (s.f.). Cuídate mucho, Mamá. Cesteland. España