During the first couple of weeks of your baby's life, it's impossible to imagine that you might ever feel lonely. Family and friends will be popping round to see the new arrival. The health visitor will be making regular visits. And your partner may even have been able to take some time off work in order to stay at home with you and the baby.
But once life begins to get back to normal, it's only natural to feel a bit lonely. Your partner starts back at work, your mother goes home. Before you know it, you're spending most of the day on your own with the new baby. Without another adult to talk to, there's a danger that little worries get blown up into big problems. If your baby won't sleep, or if you feel exhausted, it's easy to imagine that you're the only new mum in the world who finds it difficult coping.
Meeting new mums
One of the best ways to beat loneliness is to meet other women with new babies. They will be in exactly the same situation as you, worrying about whether they are doing things 'right'. It's very reassuring to learn that you're not the only person who can't decide which nappies to use, or who is panicking about never getting their figure back! It's good, too, to feel that it's OK to talk non-stop about your baby, without boring the other person. New mums are also likely to be available for a coffee, walk or chat during the day, when your other friends are busy at work.
Antenatal childbirth, relaxation and yoga classes are a good way of meeting women who are due to give birth around the same time as you. If you meet someone at a class who you like, be sure to take their phone number well before your due dates. It's easy to assume that you'll find a way of making contact with your friend once the babies have arrived, but actually it's much more convenient to take down the details now. Then, when you feel like meeting up, all you have to do is make one telephone call.
The health clinic, where you go every week to have your baby weighed or simply for advice, is a great place to meet other new mums. Some clinics also run workshops on specific topics like weaning, baby massage and first aid. Having spent an hour or so discussing one particular issue with other new mums, it's easy to suggest continuing the conversation over a coffee.
While you're at the clinic have a look at the notice boards. You'll probably find details about coffee mornings, relaxation classes and other events for new mothers. If you want to meet someone who shares a particular interest of yours - yoga, meditation, massage - then ask the health visitor if she knows of any specific groups for mother and baby meetings in your area. The local paper will also list events.
The National Childbirth Trust, which runs antenatal classes, has a very good record for putting expectant and new mothers in touch with one another. Because fathers are also involved in these classes, it's a good way for you and your partner to meet other couples who are about to have babies. It's quite common to find that families who originally met through the NCT are still going on holiday with each other ten years later.
Although you may strike lucky and meet some nice new mothers straight away, it's important to keep on expanding your circle. There is a danger that the friendships that you make just after giving birth can become too intense too quickly. If you feel that another new mum is demanding too much of your undivided time and attention, try inviting some other women along the next time you meet.
Instant loneliness cures
Sometimes it's just not possible to find another new mother who is available for a chat or a coffee at the precise moment when you need it. When this happens, put your baby in the buggy, and head for your local shopping centre. Another good idea is to find a local coffee shop where women with very young children tend to gather. The most likely times to find them are at 10.30 am and 3 pm. The easiest way to start up a conversation is by asking for information or advice. Any new mother will be delighted to tell you where she bought her baby's outfit, or how to find the nearest chemist.
There are lots of ways to meet new mums. It can sometimes seem difficult to 'bite the bullet' and make that first telephone call - but you will reap the benefits in tips, help, advice and more importantly friendship!