I was really lucky when I was on maternity leave with my first as two of my closest friends were off with me. There was no need for us to join any baby groups, or associate with any other mothers that were off, as we had each other. We could drink tea and moan about our other halves together and we all went back to work at roughly the same time. It was ace. It didn't matter that a few of my single friends had vanished into thin air and that others weren't bothered about stories of potty training doom and weaning woes.
Second time round? I wasn't so lucky. I was off with two small children, which in itself is really bloomin hard, but also I was alone. My other half works quite long hours and I felt very isolated. It was at this point I decided to write the blog. I was reading a lot of them and watching a lot of YouTube videos to keep me company. I tentatively joined twitter and then? Something shifted. I started to feel a little less lonely. I tapped into community filled with thousands and thousands of other new Mums.
AXA PPP healthcare and Netmums recently did some research and found that a lot of Mums felt like I did. Over a quarter of new Mums feel lonely after they give birth and just under a quarter don't have family nearby to help out. Luckily? My rents were around to help here and there but when you want to moan about your husband or talk about who you fancy in Made in Chelsea? Well my Dad wouldn't be too interested.
Almost a fifth of mothers found that social media helped them feel connected. Since joining associations with forums like Netmums and twitter I have found a whole new group of 'Mum' friends. Women who don't mind me banging on about being tired all the time. I have even, gasp, met up with some of them! And one in particular, the very lovely Sarah from Taming Twins, has become a really good close friend.
40% of young mothers aged 18-24 don't attend antenatal classes. With a fifth of mothers older than that also not attending. Whilst these classes weren't for me, they are incredibly important if you want to make new 'Mum' friends. I opted for reaching out and organising my own playdates and even the odd tipsy afternoon tea with some of the women I met on twitter. Whilst social media is fun? Meeting people in the actual real life flesh. Chances are if you click on-line you will click even more face to face.
The research by AXA PPP healthcare and Netmums also discovered that a third of Mums find becoming a Mother difficult. With 28% of them saying they had not really made any friends they can talk to about being a parent. Whilst the figures are not good there is some solace to be took in them. If you have just had a baby. And are fed up of being alone, chances are that somebody else is in the same position?
So next time you are at the local baby club and see someone you think you could get along with (I base this on their shoes. Or if they have a nice bag. I am aware this is shallow) pop over and ask how they are? Who knows within the fortnight you could be tucking into cake together whilst your kids nap...and maybe confessing you actually quite fancy Spencer from Made in Chelsea.
This post was written in collaboration with AXA PPP healthcare.