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Lonely Mums

Thursday, 1 November 2007

A recent survey suggested that the majority of new mothers find the first year with their baby the loneliest time of their lives. We talk to one such mum and hear her story.

Sharon Whelan
Sharon Whelan (McCabe),26, gave birth to her beautiful baby girl Sophie ten months ago. During her pregnancy Sharon's own mum moved away from their native Tallaght to Kildare, where she now lives.

With no family she could go to, Sharon felt so isolated as most of her friends bar one, were not mothers themselves.

She also found her relationship with her husband tested as he went back to work, particularly when he would go out after work.

Sharon also hid post-natal depression from her family so as not to appear a failure, she felt she was loosing sight of who she was but received some help from great people. Her big mistake, she says, was not reaching out to her family before she did. She now says that having asked for and received help, her relationship with her mum has gone from great to amazing. She now wishes she had reached out earlier.

As a mid-wife, Sharon returned to work (reduced hours) seven weeks ago when Sophie was 7.5mths.

While Sharon is absolutely thrilled with her beautiful baby girl she says she can't help how she felt. She would advise any new mums that it is more normal to ask for help than it is not to ask. Also to have some time out alone and do what you really love - your baby will appreciate a happier mum and won't forget who you are despite you thinking otherwise.

BETTY'S NOTES

First year parenting:

The big issue is adjusting to change.
Whole life has been 'turned upside down'
Frustration arises when you keep trying to 'right' it again
Key is to start seeing it from where you are now
So a good word here is 'surrender'!

How?
Look at life situation with new eyes.
An example of this are the people immediately in your life
These are your biggest resource e.g the auntie that you may never have felt you related to might now become a great mentoring and resourceful support
So eyes open to what is in your environment and don't dismiss anything until you have examined it however cursory that might be!

New parents are surrounded with others like them but separate these in their minds from friends and may be reluctant to network on the basis of this

But these are the very people who understand that you haven't slept properly for weeks that baby always cries when you start speaking with another adult and that beds are now for desperately needed sleep and not sex!

So start networking with those that will understand and support you and all the better if they are old friends

Most couples are geographically separated from families and while this may be desirable when you are persuing a hectic social and work life it isn't when all you want to do is hand your baby over to the most trusted adult in your life while you get to have a coffee have a chat have a nap have anything!

Again if this is not available to you however you may try to juggle you probably have to buy this in
Use everything available to you in the community

A good idea is to start networking at the ante natal stage This may be your first support group formed!

Join mother and toddler group, breast feeding group whatever is applicaple to you.

Talk to public health nurse who is a great resource for information advice ect
You are not alone there is a world of people out the waiting for you!

Another thing I would be happy to talk about is the effects of first parent hood on couples but I doubt if there is time to cover everything.

THE SURVEY

This was a poll of 2,000 new mothers, commissioned by Mother and Baby magazine and Tesco in the UK.

"It should be the most joyful time of their lives, but for most new mothers the year after having their first baby turns out to be the loneliest, according to a survey.

Cut off from family, friends and work colleagues they find it very different to the cosy world they had imagined.

. Almost two in three live miles away from their own mother
. More than half, 53%, say they feel 'lonely and isolated'.
. 90% also lament the loss of the social life they enjoyed before baby arrived
. Around two-thirds say they 'feel cut off from normal life'.
. Only 29%live in the same town as their parents and only 7% in the same city.
. Only 10% mix with their neighbours
. Almost half say they have 'never really spoken to their neighbours'.
. A third feel tearful and 20% feel they have no one to talk to.
. Overall, the average new mother spends only 90 minutes a day in the company of others - apart from when their partner arrives home
. 34% say they usually spend all day alone.
25% say their relationship has gone downhill since having a baby. Only 19% say their relationship is stronger.

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