Why You’re Feeling Isolated as a New Mom

Why having a baby can feel lonely and how to start connecting again

mom holding newborn baby

Shiratama camera/Moment/Getty Images

New motherhood comes with many joys and challenges. What you may not be expecting is the sense of isolation that is common for parents who have just given birth to a baby, especially for first-time mothers. Any life change—like starting a new job or moving to a new town—is known to cause feelings of loneliness and disconnection. However, few people talk about how isolating having a new baby can be.  

Here’s why you may be feeling lonely and how to start feeling more connected.

Why You May Feel Isolated as a New Mom

There are many possible reasons you’re feeling isolated as a new mom. See if any of the following rings true for you.

Physical Recovery From Birth Takes Time

Pregnancy and childbirth are hard on a woman’s body. While you’ve likely heard that recovery takes six to eight weeks post-childbirth, most women will tell you that they were not feeling “recovered” that quickly.

Depending on the study or survey you look at, getting “back to your normal self” after birth takes anywhere from six months to a year. New mothers may deal with frequent colds or infections, back pain, perineal and/or pelvic pain, and disturbed sleep patterns.

Plus, Mother Nature designed your body to give priority to your baby’s needs over yours. Pregnancy takes nutrients from your body. It’s not uncommon for new moms to be anemic. In fact, one study found that up to 50% of new mothers are anemic 48 hours after childbirth. Despite this, many new moms stop taking vitamin supplements after the baby’s born. Seeing prenatal vitamins as being for the baby, moms may not realize they need the supplementation themselves.

When you’re not feeling well, you’re less likely to have the energy to socialize and make time for friends or family visits.  

Transitioning from Working to Being at Home

Most adults receive the majority of their social interactions in the workspace. If you were working before your baby was born, and now you’re at home, you’ve lost a regular dose of social-time, one that you didn’t have to make an extra effort to get previously.

You don’t need to be a newly dedicated stay-at-home mom to experience this isolation either. Even if you’re home for six to eight weeks postpartum, those weeks can feel long and lonely.

Women who decide to stay home with their baby may report the challenge of loneliness as one of the hardest aspects of stay-at-home motherhood. Some women who intended to stay home with their babies will go back to work—at least part-time—primarily to beat isolation.

Even If You Keep Working, Work Relationships Change

Even if you return to work, you may feel isolated and less connected to your coworkers. The obligations of new parenthood follow you outside of the home.

For example, before the new baby, perhaps you’d spend your lunch hour chatting with friends. Now, you may want to use that time to pump breast milk or go see your newborn in the childcare center.

Your after-work social time may also change. Pre-baby, you may have occasionally agreed to last-minute dinner plans. Or, maybe you attended work social events for fun. Now, you need to make babysitter arrangements for these off-hours events.

Even if you can arrange for a babysitter, you may feel guilty staying away from your newborn when you’ve been at work all day. The pull to be with your newborn and the pull to be with friends can be challenging to balance. Also, not all new parents are comfortable leaving their baby with a babysitter.

Breastfeeding

Implicating breastfeeding as a possible cause of new mom isolation is risky business. There are many strongly held opinions on the subject, however, failing to acknowledge the social impact breastfeeding has on new moms would be doing them a disservice.

Breastfeeding can be isolating, especially in the beginning.

Newborns breastfeed frequently, with every hour and a half to every two hours being the norm. If you’re trying to exclusively breastfeed, and you aren’t pumping milk, this means you can’t really be away from your baby for longer than an hour and a half at a time.

Even if you pump milk for when you’re away, it is unlikely you'll still want to be apart from your baby for extended periods of time. Your breasts will fill with milk, and if you can’t nurse your baby, you will need to pump. This makes social outings complicated.

You can take your baby out with you, but this means breastfeeding in public. Experienced moms eventually learn how to nurse their babies away from home comfortably, but new moms need time to develop confidence in public breastfeeding.

Until your savvy nursing skills are developed, and in those early months when your baby needs you frequently, feelings of isolation may occur.

Taking Care of a New Baby Takes Hours… and Hours… of Time

When you have a new baby, you’ve just added a lot of baby care time to your schedule.

How much time? The American Time Use Survey found that mothers of children under the age of one year spend 22 hours a week solely on childcare duties.

Finding time for friends isn’t easy even when you don’t have kids. Finding an extra hour when you’ve added 22 hours of baby-care time to your schedule makes it even trickier. 

Changes in Routine

You may not think about all the little interactions throughout your day. Like a morning casual chat with the coffee shop barista, or an exchange of afternoon pleasantries with the office security guard, or interactions with fellow yogis at the gym.

When you have a new baby, your routines change. You are probably not dropping by a coffee shop on the way to work—especially if you’re not working at the moment. You’re probably not getting to yoga early or hanging out for long after class if you’re going at all.

Losing these little interactions can cause you to feel isolated. 

Feeling Too Tired to Socialize

New parents are tired. As mentioned earlier, your body requires months to recover from childbirth. While you’re recovering, you’re also attending to a newborn baby who probably doesn’t sleep through the night. This means you’re not sleeping through the night.

When you do have downtime or the baby is napping, you may not feel up to calling a friend or going out. You may prefer a nap yourself.

Having Less Cash to Spend on Social Activities

New babies cost money. According to an analysis conducted by NerdWallet, a family making $40,000 a year can expect to spend close to $20,000 a year on a new baby. They include expenses like housing, which you could argue a family would need to spend anyway. But looking at their breakdown, if you just focus on childcare expenses and miscellaneous baby items (diapers, clothing, etc.), you’re still looking at close to $10,000.

New moms are also likely making less income, with time away to recover from childbirth and possibly fewer hours even when they return to work.

Social interactions can be costly. Going out for lunch, drinks, or even having people come over for dinner (which means shopping and cooking) requires cash. 

Consider also the money you may have spent previously on hobbies that brought social interactions, like yoga classes, gym memberships, or social club memberships. You may have cut back on these expenses to make room in your budget for the baby. But with the loss of these activities comes also a loss in social interactions. 

Changes in Your Friendships

Having a baby can change your friendships. You may make new friends or bond with people with other new moms. However, you may also find yourself drifting away from those without kids. Priorities change, topics of interest change, and free-time availability changes.

Your friends without kids may not always be patient or understanding about why you can’t find time to do things with the like you used to. You may feel left out, even if you’re the one saying no to social invites. Your friends may stop asking you to hang out with them, and you may be reluctant to call them and ask if they can come over to visit.  

Changes in Your Relationship to Your Partner

Quality time with your partner (if you’re not a single mom) can also decrease after you have a baby.

You and your partner may spend time taking care of the baby and house together, but that’s not necessarily interactions with each other. In other words, you may be spending time in the same room or same house, but you’re not talking to each other.

Intimate time also changes after childbirth. Sex can be uncomfortable and even painful in the first months after you have a baby. While you can be physically intimate in ways besides sexual intercourse, new parents are unlikely to feel inspired or creative when they are exhausted from tending to a newborn.

Feelings of Guilt or Shame That “Motherhood Isn’t Enough”

Isolation can also come from the misconception that your interactions with your newborn baby should be enough. You may find yourself unconsciously believing that if you were a “good mother,” your connection to your new baby should fulfill all your desires for love and connection. This is unrealistic and untrue.

While love for your child can be like nothing else in this world, your child shouldn’t and can’t be your sole source of social interaction. You need to connect with other adults.

You're Not a Part of Social Mom Groups (Yet)

Motherhood can be the doorway to numerous social interactions. From parent-teacher associations to homeschooling clubs, to scouting and Mommy and Me types of classes, to the carpool lane, you are likely (one day) going to make some of your closet friends through your motherhood role.

However, these connections don’t show up on your first day, week, or even month of parenthood. As a new mom, you haven’t yet connected with the mom-network.  

What Can You Do to Feel More Connected

As you can see, there are several reasons you may be feeling isolated. The good news is you don’t need to stay isolated. There are steps you can take to connect both with new people and established friends.

Tell Someone You’re Feeling Lonely

Feeling isolated hurts. Feeling isolated and keeping those painful emotions to yourself can feel even lonelier. Don't hesitate to let someone know how you're feeling.

Whether you talk to your partner, your best friend, a relative, or even your doctor, talking about your feelings of isolation can help you feel less alone. The person you’re talking to may have ideas on how you can connect with people more, too.

If you’re nervous to share your struggle, remember that feelings of isolation as a new mom are common. Feeling lonely doesn’t make you a bad mother. It just makes you human.

Put “Connection” On Your To-Do List

Your needs for social interaction are important. They are as important as your needs for sleep, food, and shelter. Moms who lack social support are at an increased risk for postpartum depression. Research has also found that your social interactions (or lack thereof) can impact your physical health.

Studies have also found that a mother’s sense of social support can impact the bond she has with her baby. Your baby needs you, but you also need other people. Even your baby needs you to connect with other people.

Connection isn’t a “nice” thing to have—it’s a necessity. When you prioritize your need for social interaction, you’ll be more likely to find a way to make connections happen.

Join a New Mom Group

As mentioned earlier, your motherhood status will eventually open you up to numerous social opportunities. You need to take the first steps, though. Look for local groups and see if you can join one.

Where might you find mom groups? Here are some options:

  • Facebook Groups (search for your city or state name along with keywords like “mom,” “new mom,” or “baby group.”)
  • Local children’s museum
  • Local public library
  • Community centers and/or YMCAs
  • Places of worship (you don’t necessarily need to be an official member of a church to participate in a church’s mom social group)
  • Mom and baby classes and clubs (yoga, music, swimming, art classes, etc.)
  • La Leche League Meetings (for breastfeeding moms)
  • Fit4Mom.com
  • MyGym.com
  • MeetUp.com
  • NextDoor.com
  • MochaMoms.org
  • MomsClub.org

Start a New Mom Group

Don’t see a group in your area that fits your needs or interests? Create one!

This may not be a project you’re ready for the first few weeks after birth, but a couple of months later, there’s no reason you can’t create what you need. Websites like Facebook, MeetUp.com, and NextDoor.com can provide a platform to find other moms who would like to join your group. The local library, community center, or your place of worship can also be a place to find members for your new group.

Don’t forget about mining groups you were a part of before you gave birth. Did you attend a childbirth education class? Or attend a pregnancy-focused fitness class? You might find your people there.

Weave Connection into Your Errands-Time

Remember those little interactions you may have lost? Make an effort to seek out and create new opportunities.

Sure, it’s nice that you can get your groceries delivered to your home, and your spouse bringing home coffee is sweet. But you may benefit by going out yourself. Ask if your partner, a friend, or a relative can stay with the baby so you can go out quickly alone.

Or, take your baby with you. Babies make great conversation starters.

Go for a Walk, Visit the Park, or Drop By the Library

Those Story Hours at the library advertised for little babies aren’t for your newborn (not really). They are for you. Libraries, bookstores, and sometimes toy stores will host story hours where moms can connect with their baby. Check them out!

If that’s not an option (or not of interest), consider going for a walk. Whether you walk in the park, around the block, or around the mall, you’ll make eye contact with strangers. You may or may not be friends, but you’ll see people. You’ll feel a little less isolated than you do sitting at home.

Embrace Live Video Chat

Phone calls with a baby can be tricky. Holding the phone while juggling the baby, fiddling with a diaper, or trying to get your newborn to latch properly—and having a conversation—isn’t easy! You will eventually get there, but in those first weeks and months, everything is so new.

Set up video chat calls with friends or family. You can set up your phone away from you or use a computer. You don’t need to hold the phone and the baby.

You don’t even have to talk to each other the entire time! You can ask a friend or relative to “keep you company” by leaving a video chat open on your computer while you go about your day.

Reach Out to Your Former Social Network

Sometimes, friendship changes after a life change (like having a baby) are less about reality and more about assumptions. Your pre-baby buddies who don’t have kids may think you are “too busy” to have time for them. Or you may think that they won’t be interested in “just coming over” to chat. You might think they’ll find you “boring.”

You might be wrong. And your friends who are “leaving you alone because you are too busy” are probably wrong too. You still need each other.

You might need to be the one to reach out. Send a text; make a phone call. Let them know you miss them and would love if they would drop by, or go out for coffee together, or whatever sounds doable.

(Try) to Get Out On Your Own Once in Awhile

Most of the suggestions so far assume your baby is coming with you. You don’t have to bring your baby everywhere with you. If you’re lucky enough to have a partner, friend, or relative who can watch your baby, try to get out on your own. Even if it’s for just an hour a week, it’s something.

If you belong to a gym with a daycare service, take advantage of it. You don’t have to be working out while they watch your kid. Leaving your baby at the daycare center while you enjoy the sauna with a friend is legit.

If you’re bringing your baby to a daycare center for your work hours, consider adding an hour or two a week so you can use that time to connect with people (not just at work.)

Don’t Let Perfection Be the Enemy of Good

Maybe before your baby arrived, you’d go out for dinner with friends for three hours. Now, maybe you only have time to drop by for 30 minutes. Those 30 minutes can be worth the effort to connect.

Perhaps before your baby arrived, you attended group fitness classes. Now, you can only attend half the class. Don’t assume that means you can’t go at all. Talk to the instructor about the studio etiquette of arriving late or leaving early.

Maybe you loved to host friends at your home for dinner parties. You loved cooking and cleaning up for everyone. Now, perhaps the best you can do is clear some space on the kitchen table and order pizza delivery. Go ahead and invite friends over for pizza.

As the saying goes, don’t let perfection be the enemy of good.

A Word From Verywell

Feeling isolated is a common experience for new mothers. If you’re experiencing this, you’re normal! The good news is there are many ways to start feeling connected with people. Your options for social connection may vary based on your income level, where you live and the local community offerings, and whether you have someone to watch your baby. Whatever your situation is, you should be able to find a couple of ways to reach out and connect with others. Even if you get your daily dose of connection by visiting the grocery store, embrace that time.

Also, remember that your baby won’t be a newborn forever. This is a time of transition and change. Things will get better.

Was this page helpful?

Article Sources

Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  • Drago, Robert. “The parenting of infants: a time-use study.” Monthly Labor Review. 2009 October.

  • Iwata H1, Mori E1, Sakajo A1, Aoki K1, Maehara K1, Tamakoshi K2. “Course of maternal fatigue and its associated factors during the first 6 months postpartum: a prospective cohort study.” Nurs Open. 2018 Feb 21;5(2):186-196. doi: 10.1002/nop2.130. eCollection 2018 Apr.

  • Lee K1, Vasileiou K1, Barnett J1. “'Lonely within the mother': An exploratory study of first-time mothers' experiences of loneliness.” J Health Psychol. 2019 Sep;24(10):1334-1344. doi: 10.1177/1359105317723451. Epub 2017 Aug 10.

  • Milman N1. “Postpartum anemia I: definition, prevalence, causes, and consequences.” Ann Hematol. 2011 Nov;90(11):1247-53. doi: 10.1007/s00277-011-1279-z. Epub 2011 Jun 28.

  • Yesilcinar I1, Yavan T1, Karasahin KE2, Yenen MC2. “The identification of the relationship between the perceived social support, fatigue levels and maternal attachment during the postpartum period.” J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2017 May;30(10):1213-1220. doi: 10.1080/14767058.2016.1209649. Epub 2016 Aug 8.