Becoming a mum can change your friendships. You might gather new friends and some older friendships may change while others don't. Here's what to expect...
Changing friendships and parenthood: the mum's perspective
It sounds like a cliché but something quite fundamental happens to you when you have a baby. A shift it’s hard to articulate fully, one that can and does affect your friendships. And goodness you’re in need of friends. This article explores these changes.
Becoming a mum for the first time brings with it a love like no other. But your little baby bubble can also be quite isolating as you grapple with a new identity, new priorities, a new body and a new life. Thankfully this transition can also bring with it new friendships. And help you reevaluate old ones, positively and negatively.
You may have a small network of close friends that have been your bezzies since day dot. And perhaps you’ve all ridden the life train by each other’s sides, with no blips whatsoever. You lucky thing. But often, our already complex world of friendships becomes even more so when you become a mum. Here we explore some common themes. We also look at how to adjust as your friendships do.
The newbie, thrown together friends
NCT antenatal classes are great for a number of reasons. Yes, of course we’d say that. But they’re a great way to find other couples going through the same thing at the same time. This new network can provide you with exactly the support you need, from people who really understand.
Of course, some groups hit it off more than others, and your friendships with these new mum friends might be different to other friends you’ve had before. But most people we speak to truly value the network a course creates.
Instant forever friends they may or may not be. But enjoy these new friends for who they are. More often than not, the birth, sleep and poo chats get a bit more ‘normal life’ after a glass or two of wine. Or after you’ve all had a bit of sleep.
“The first couple of chats we had as a group were pretty stilted. Bit once we’d begun to share our experiences, there were so many things we had in common. And not just about our new families, but careers, interests, relationships. And our babies really are all the best of friends. Seeing them all together now, toddling around is a real delight. I’m so grateful to have this bunch of mum friends.” Charlotte, mum of Freya, 18 months
The ‘make them as you go’ friends
A baby is like a tiny matchmaker for mums awkwardly standing around at a soft play/playground/first aid class. Mutual coos, and chats about their names, their ages and their shoe size can break the ice. Many mums find their phone contacts reach bursting point during maternity leave.
How wonderful to meet a number of mums in your local area, all experiencing a similar life stage to you. Our advice here? Don’t be afraid to pursue friendships and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Ask someone for a coffee after that music class. Ask for their number when you see them for the umpteenth time in the library. New friendships might lack history but everyone starts somewhere. Fast forward twenty years and you might still be hanging out talking about your by-then grown-up kids.
The together forever, through thick and thin friends
Some friendships were always destined to go the distance. You might have met on the first day of school and know you’d be there for each other forever.
You may have had babies around the same time or be at completely different stages of parenting and non-parenting. But the glue that holds you together ain’t being washed away. Yes, you may have to work at these friendships too – never stop making that effort, particularly if you’re doing different things with your lives. But have the confidence in these friendships too. History is an important facet. These friendships are ones to keep hold of, most of the time.
The old friendships you might need to work at
A new baby is hard work. As is all the life admin that comes with them. Throw into that mix a very different dynamic with your partner. And that might leave adding ‘nurture old friendships’ to your to-do list as the last thing you might want to do. They can get lost if they’re not interested in your new life, right?
Well yes and no. All relationships require some effort, so try to push yourself out of your baby bubble, to a degree. But also learn when to stop – sometimes you might grow apart, and that’s okay. You might not strike them off your Christmas card list but removing them from your inner circle is totally acceptable.
So when it comes down to it, the early days are when you can and should be all about your baby, whereas later on when you might have to push yourself to nurture these friendships a little more. Our article on how to have a baby and keep your friends explores the phases you go through with old friends once you become a new parent.
While it might seem like a gaping chasm has appeared as you enter a totally different world to your friend, there are a few things you could try. See our article about how to get your non-parent friends interested in your baby and find ways of build bridges to help these friendships stay strong.
This page was last reviewed in December 2018.
Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.
Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby. To find out when an NCT nearly new sale is happening near you, search here.
You might find attending one of NCT's Early Days groups helpful as they give you the opportunity to explore different approaches to important parenting issues with a qualified group leader and other new parents in your area.