Pregnant and Lonely?
You’re Not on Your Own

Pregnant and Lonely? – You’re Not on Your Own

Pregnancy is a wonderful period in your life; you’re growing your child, another human-being who you will love and adore for the rest of your life. Day by day, you’re blossoming into a mother. Together you and your partner are building your own little family. A lot of people anticipate pregnancy with utter excitement and on paper, what’s not to be excited about?

People envision you’ll be surrounded by pregnant friends, overjoyed, planning, buying all the required items for your impending arrival. While a large portion of that statement is true- for many many soon-to-be mommas, even if you are feeling incredibly blessed and excited, it’s not uncommon to feel isolated and lonely at some points during your pregnancy.

For me, my pregnancy has been very much (a mild?) rollercoaster- it’s had its ups and downs. For the most part I’ve experienced feeling happy and at peace, but at stages I have been engulfed with intense feelings of worthlessness, loneliness, anxiety, and lack of confidence.

I wanted to share my experiences as it can be really hard to meet others who can identify, and even harder to find those going through the same feelings/ experiences. It’s true that thousands of moms-to-be struggle silently with feelings of loneliness and anxiety during pregnancy. Lapsing into small bouts of depression and anxiety, where you don’t want to leave the house, answer the phone, look at emails or text messages has occurred. Feeling this way is not unusual, not uncommon; I shouldn’t feel like an alien for having these emotions surface.

Sharing Experience of Pre-Natal Anxiety and Loneliness

Sharing experiences can make a tremendous difference to ones overall emotional well-being, and can bring some enlightenment when you feel like you’re stuck in a dark tunnel.

For those of you who have a friend, relative or partner, who’s you think might be experiencing depression, anxiety and loneliness during pregnancy; this may help you identify with how your loved one is feeling, and how you can help them feel more at peace.

From reading forums, sharing with others, and drawing from my own personal experience, triggers for feelings of loneliness and isolation can arise from a few common areas.

I’ve covered them below and outlined simple things you can to do in order to combat them.

Pregnancy Symptoms

Even the most supportive of partner struggle to identify with the physical aspects of pregnancy. Lack of understanding or empathy in relation to the aches, pains, and sickness can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. When you feel like your partner or loved ones can’t identify with these concerns and feelings or if you feel like you don’t have anyone to talk with about these symptoms or feelings this can be extremely difficult.

Common Physical Issues:
a. Nausea: It’s very difficult to explain how pregnancy can make you feel and how debilitating it can be. The term “morning sickness” is misleading; it doesn’t just happen in the morning, and it doesn’t always involve actual vomiting. It can be incredibly debilitating.
b. Aches and Pains: Again, back pain from carrying around 25lb- 35lbs of extra weight can be an incredible discomfort. It can render simple tasks which you took for granted like cleaning, walking, working out extremely difficult.
c. Changing Body: As your body changes during pregnancy, sometimes you can feel like an alien has taken over! It’s really common for mom’s to feel like they are unattractive to their partner, this leads to worries about intimacy, ultimately can really impact mama’s confidence.

Solutions – Proven Methods to Cast Away the Blues

For you
• Get glammed up, put your makeup on and leave the house. Even if you’re feeling dreadful, putting your best “face” forward can really help you kick those down in the dump feelings.
• Empathize with why your partner or friends might not identify with what you’re going through. He’s never been pregnant before.
• Exercise- it’s the ultimate mood booster, even if you’re exhausted, try go for a quick walk.
• It’s ok to eat bread and cheese, or crisp sandwiches and lay in bed occasionally. But not every day. Nutrition and diet is important. Wallowing doesn’t work!

How you can help
• Tell mama she is gorgeous and mean it. Give her kisses, and tell her she’s fit!
• Empathize and sympathize- say pregnancy looks hard. Tell her she’s doing an amazing job.
• Help with household tasks; make dinner, do the laundry. Ask her what you can do to help.
• Arrange to take your friend out to dinner. Or have a girly night in with facemasks and cook a meal for your friend.

Not having any Mommy Friends

You might be the first in your group to have a baby, and it’s easy to feel like as soon as you become pregnant, your conversation becomes all baby-baby blah blah! This is of course fine, if you’re comfortable with that, but the last thing I want to feel like is a massive baby obsessed bore-off!

Equally though, growing and preparing for a baby can become all consuming. It’s not unusual to lose common ground (often temporarily) with friends who are out partying, traveling, living it large as you’re really going through very different life experiences.

Feeling more distant from friends can make you feel very isolated at times and it’s always great to have a friendship group of mommas who are experiencing the same journey as you.

Solutions – Proven Methods to Cast Away the Blues

Things you can do
• Make the first move, plan something with your friends. Tell them you’re feeling a little down in the dumps. Suggest hosting a get together.
• Support Groups/ Community Groups. Get involved. Yes, this can be really hard if you’re struggling with feelings of lack-of-confidence. Force yourself to get out there and meet people. Engage in your community. Look for mom and toddler groups, prenatal workout classes. From experience, yes you might have to kiss some frogs to find your “tribe”. But once you do, you may have found some new friends for life.
• Check out online support groups.
• Check yourself. If you’re worried your conversation is all baby. Make sure you ask your pals about their life. Show an interest. It’s a two-way street.

Being Far Away from Friends and Family

Many of us now-a-days live far away from our friends and family. I’m 16 hours from the UK, and while being an expat has been absolutely amazing, there are times when I can feel incredibly lonely. You might only have a few “close friends” as you’ve only lived in an area for a short time. It takes a long time to build up a number of really solid friendships. It’s very easy to miss your siblings and parents. I also really struggle with the guilt of having a grandchild, and great grandchild in a foreign country, where they can’t enjoy her! Even if your friends and family are closer to home, it’s not uncommon for people to live a few hours away, to still feel isolation and guilt about being far away from their nearest and dearest.

Solutions – Proven Methods to Cast Away the Blues

• Remind yourself why you’ve made the decision to live far away. Remind yourself of all the pros, re-assess the cons. Remind yourself it might only be for a finite amount of time.
• Make sure you FaceTime and Skype weekly with family.
• Set up a weekly chat time with your oldest friends.
• To stay connected with my grandma, (who is a technophobe) I send her a photobook quarterly, and phone her once a week. It’s a great way to help her visualize what’s going on in our life!

Pressure from Others

As a soon to be first-time mommy, you receive unsolicited advice from everyone! Parents, friends, even well meaning strangers. Advice and assumptions are made over everything from your birthing method; whether you’ll use pain relief, have an epidural, through to whether you’ll breastfeed, pump, bottle-feed– the list goes on and on!

Nothing could have prepared me for how willing everyone is to give you their expertise on what “they think is best”.

Personally I’ve found the pressure on the breastfeeding front incredibly overwhelming. I completely understand “breast is best” nutritionally, and know the biological reasons behind this. I’ve read a lot on the subject. I also know how difficult it can be for moms; and that not all mom’s are in a position to be able to breastfeed.

Having people in your ear, almost inferring that you’re a bad mom or selfish if you don’t breastfeed. Warning you that your child won’t bond with you, or will be developmentally delayed, isn’t fun and can be incredibly stressful. My personal mantra is that fed is best, and that contrary to popular belief, being a mother isn’t about martyring yourself to the cause. Happy momma, happy baby. You won’t be able to be a great mother if you’re not practicing self-care, if you’re not looking after yourself, and frankly that does extend to you looking after your personal, physical and emotional well-being.

Handling all the pressure and unsolicited advice can be really overwhelming at times. It can lead to you experiencing negative and unnatural thought processes, making you feel isolated and ashamed.

Solutions – Proven Methods to Cast Away the Blues

What you can do
• Insert fingers into ears! No seriously, if someone starts giving you unsolicited advice, politely tell them to STFU.
• Alternatively, advice is going to come your way. Learn to take it with a pinch of salt. Switch your mindset. People are being generous by importing their perceived words of wisdom and share their experiences. Thank them, use the advice you feel relevant, and move on. Don’t allocate any mental space to being annoyed, or distressed about this.
• You are in control, and you’re going to be amazing mama! Safely born baby, and safe momma is best. Fed baby is best. Sleeping baby is best!

How you can help
• Keep your trap shut! If a mother asks for advice by all means give it to her, but, don’t take her for a fool. I can guarantee she has read, pinned and researched the pros and cons of breast-feeding, birthing, sleep routines and so on. Leave it to her and her partner to choose what’s the right approach for their family.
• Be there to encourage and support.
• As they saying goes “assume makes an ass out of you and me!” Don’t say, “you’ll be breastfeeding won’t you”, or “you shouldn’t feel guilty if you end with a c-section”. Please think before opening your mouth.

Loneliness, Depression and Anxiety during Pregnancy

Loneliness, worthlessness, lack of confidence, anxiety, feeling down in the dumps, are all common feelings during pregnancy. It’s not unusual to feel pregnant and lonely.

The best thing you can do to combat these feelings is to: Be honest about how you’re feeling. Tell your partner. Be clear with your friends. Explain how you’re feeling, and what they can do to help can be incredibly useful. You’d be surprise at how obliging people will be.

• Make sure you practice self-care.
• Exercise everyday- even if it’s a 15-minute walk.
Get up and make your bed. Get dressed even if you don’t feel like it.
• Don’t eat crap all day.
• Make sure you speak to someone during the day. Even if it’s phoning home, or talking to a stranger in a shop! Social interaction is important.

Remember, not everyone feeling lonely or down, is depressed. Also remember, if you feel “down”, lonely or anxious, for prolonged periods – beyond 2 weeks, this might be.
Speak to a doctor.

have you been affected?

Have you been affected by loneliness, anxiety and depression during pregnancy?

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