Maternity leave is an essential period after birth designed for rest, healing, and bonding with your new infant. For many women, it is a chance to adjust to life with a newborn, get acclimated to sleep changes and recover from pregnancy and delivery. This can be much needed and a slower-paced life after the rush of trying to get ready for the baby to be here. For many though, it is also a very isolating time. Whether you’re planning for your upcoming maternity leave, or already in the thick of it, it’s important to take time to think about how you’re going to navigate and cope with feelings of isolation that may arise.
As you settle into your maternity leave, you may start to feel a sense of lack of socialization, sadness, and even boredom. This is all very common, as life as you once knew it no longer looks the same. Days and nights are sometimes mixed up. Your schedule can seem to revolve around nap times and feeding. You may even have stopped getting out of the house and doing the usual activities you enjoy. For many mothers, maternity leave is spent in isolation, at home, with her and the baby. As the weeks go by, support is often more limited, as partners, helpful family members, and friends often have shorter time off from work and have to return to jobs and usual schedules. All of these things create a greater risk for moms to struggle with feeling alone in their fourth trimester while on maternity leave.
Here are some helpful tips you can do to help support yourself and feel less alone:
- Get out of the house- While I know it can feel tempting at times to stay inside and snuggled up with your newborn, spending too much time indoors and alone can drastically impact our mood for the worse. Getting outside and going on walks, sitting in the sunshine, walking around a store, and doing other activities can be very beneficial for our moods. It can also get us out in public and help to not feel so alone.
- Connection and socialization- It’s important you are still making time to connect with others and socialize. We are social creatures and are not designed to do this all on our own. It’s important to continue to make contact with friends and family, get out and meet others for lunch or dinner, and go to social events.
- Hobbies and activities- Maternity leave is a great time to engage in hobbies or pursue interests you wouldn’t usually have as much time for. Maybe you finally have time to sit down and read a book, watch a funny movie, garden, paint the kitchen, or whatever else your heart desires. Using your time to do things that bring a sense of joy to your life can drastically improve our mood.
- Don’t watch the clock- While I know it’s easy to count down the hours or minutes until it’s nap time or your partner gets home, sitting and watching the clock is never helpful. This is a sacred time that you won’t get back with your baby. It’s important to make the best of it.
- Talk about it- It’s important to acknowledge and talk to your support system about how you’re feeling. That way, they can understand what this is like for you and help find ways to support you during this time. Maybe they can watch your infant for a few hours so you can get some rest or go meet a friend for lunch. They don’t know what you’re feeling or what you need unless you open up and talk about it.
- Seek outside support- Getting support for your emotional health needs during this time can be life-changing. Joining a mommy and me support group, finding a counselor, and starting therapy are all great ways to seek additional support and help you not feel so alone.
No matter where you might be at in this pregnancy and post-partum journey, you do not have to do it alone. If you are feeling you could benefit from more support and would like to talk to a therapist, please reach out to us today for a free telephone consultation. We are here and waiting to help support you because you are not alone.