Motherhood can be as difficult as it is rewarding and while you have at least one tiny person with you most of the time, being a mum can also be incredibly isolating.
As if juggling your new role and responsibilities with those carrying over from your life before children isn’t hard enough, your changing priorities inevitably change existing relationships.
It is no surprise then that many mums are left feeling lonely but a UK survey has revealed just how common it is, with a whopping 90 per cent of mums admitting to feeling this way.
Mums are hiding their loneliness
Parenting site ChannelMum.com conducted the survey of 2025 mothers and also found three in five mums do their best to hide their feelings of seclusion, and almost 40 per cent have never even admitted it to their partners.
More than half of those surveyed reveal feeling friendless after giving birth but, despite 80 per cent saying they’d like to make more mum friends, 30 per cent confess they have never started a conversation with other mums that led to friendship.
“We all know having a child takes a physical toll on your body, but it can take a mental toll too,” founder of Channel Mum Siobhan Freegard told Huffington Post UK. “It’s terrifying that in our connected ‘always on’ society, nine in 10 mums still feel isolated and lonely, often with deeply troubling consequences.”
Isolated, stressed and anxious? You’re not alone
More than half of the mums who admitted to feeling lonely say the isolation has left them with anxiety and 47 per cent confess to feeling “very stressed” about it.
“I’ve felt alone and lonely since giving birth. I get visitors here and there, and my partner has days off, and I have my son everyday – but I don’t get to properly interact with people or go out, or have an actual conversation with someone,” one anonymous mum says.
Another says: “I feel like I have changed as a mum and it’s hard to accept. I find myself feeling so lonely even if people are there. My mum guilt makes me feel like I’m dying on the inside.”
For some, the feeling of isolation is so profound they (37 per cent) often cry and are afraid to leave the house (29 per cent).
Why are mums feeling so alone?
Often it is a combination of things that cause mums to feel lonely but according to 51 per cent of the women surveyed, the biggest cause was the feeling excluded by “cliquey and bitchy” groups at baby and toddler groups or at the school gate. And while many of us might turn to Facebook to connect with friends and family, 42 per cent of the mums surveyed say seeing the “perfect lives” of other mums on social media makes them feel worse.
“Being a mum can be tough but we need to remember there is more that unites us than divides us,” Siobhan told Huffington Post UK. “Scratch the surface and us mums are going through the same fears, worries and joys.”
The life-changing power of making a connection
Personally, becoming a mum really knocked my confidence. At work I could walk into a room of complete strangers, start up conversations, garner interviews, put forward probing and challenging questions to experts in fields I knew very little about and put it all into a publishable context. In the office I was surrounded by a wide mix of personalities that I shared many lunches and conversations with and with some I even formed lasting friendships. But the moment I became a mum, everything changed.
I was on the steepest learning curve I had ever experienced in my life and I wanted to be in control, or at least look like I was. I had just experienced the most amazing life-changing event of giving birth to a new person, and yet my friends lives carried on as normal – what was monumental to me was just lovely news to them.
Then there’s the sleep deprivation, the overwhelming amount of information and responsibility that people warn you about but the reality takes time to comprehend. Thankfully I gave in to pressure from my mum and husband to attend a program for new mums run by community nurses. Despite our different backgrounds, we were all united in feeling completely out of our depths with these tiny little dictators we had created.
Where to start
Social media may have its superficial downfalls – let’s face it we are all guilty of being selective with the photos and posts we share – but it can be a great source for reaching out to mums in your area.
Here are some face-to-face ways to help you connect with other mums:
- Talk to your doctor or midwife for group recommendations
- The hospital you give birth in will likely run or know of programs and groups designed to help new mums connect
- Your local council and community centres will often run programs and offer relevant resources
- Religious organisations and centres usually know of playgroups and the like in your area
- The Australian Breastfeeding Association run groups nationwide offering help with feeding but also a forum to meet other mums