How to hav­e a baby and keep your friends

You’ll make new mum friends and NCT can help with that. But those old friendships are precious too. Here’s how to help old friendships evolve with you.

You’re thrust into parenting in the most dramatic way – let’s face it, every birth is dramatic (even the more simple ones). And then you’re in this little bubble of warm, cosy cuddles with the most precious tiny creature. That love. It truly does conquer all.

But then, hold on. There’s your old life. You know, that thing you’ve filed into the depths of your memory. That place where you could leave the house on a whim in seconds. Go out with your mates. Be that thoughtful friend or shoulder to cry on.

Your shoulders are still used for crying but just a different sort of tears.

From parents we speak to, it seems those old friendships can go through a few different phases with your change in status.

PHASE ONE: The initial coos

Many good friends visit or offer to visit in those first few weeks. You might decide on an open or closed door policy, whatever works for you. But them showing willing is what is reassuring here. Of course, nothing is needed from you at this point, you’re 100% focused on the babe. And that’s as it should be.

“One friend sent us a few bottles of wine within days of Dee’s birth. It was such a nice touch, a real pressie for us. And like she just got it. We were new parents and she was six years in with two. It was like she was sending us a subliminal message that things can be crazy hard. A welcome to the club. I didn’t actually drink it for ages, as I was feeding, but I still love her now for that gift.” Mollie, mum to Dee, 16 months

“Those first few days and weeks were just great. Our lovely baby aside we got card after card, parcel after parcel, and the visitors just kept on coming. We didn’t do the washing up for a couple of weeks. Honestly, I felt like a celebrity.” Adam, Dad to Buster, six months

PHASE TWO: Those first few months

Many friends will be lifesavers and support you through what can be a truly testing time. With those thoughtful messages you’re getting from them, try to reciprocate occasionally. They might well have their own stuff on too and so contact from both sides will keep things ticking along.

Some friends might be a bit silent in this time. You might be too busy to notice. Or you might have a bit too much time to think about it. Don’t hold grudges and silently seethe at this point. Remember it’s your life that has changed beyond recognition. Theirs is likely business as usual, with all the distractions that come with it. Learn to be forgiving; your friend is probably being forgiving with you too in different ways.

“I found myself being quite hard on my friends in those first few months. Not anything I confronted them about – it was all in my head, luckily. I think I expected too much from them. It took me a little while to realise it’s not realistic to think they’ll all be perfectly rounded friends able to support me in every way I need. Hey, I’m not that with them I’m sure of it.

“I learnt to think of my friends as a network of ‘talents’: those I’d call in a crisis, those I’d call for a laugh, those who were great at contacting me just when I needed them too. As soon as I learnt to take the pressure off them and keep a check on my expectations, I got back to enjoying all my friendships again. Lucky to have them all there for different things.” Gloria, mum to Dylan, 14 months

PHASE THREE: Venturing back to your old life occasionally

This may, or may not be a full-on evening out with your pre-baby friends. But the odd phone call from you when your baby is sleeping, or a grabbed coffee when your partner is in charge can do you and your friendships the world of good.

Good friends, or those in similar positions, might be more in tune with how you’re feeling. But try not to resent those who aren’t as intuitive. Like we mentioned before, they might have their own things going on. They might not really get it. They might really miss you.

You might decide the best thing for you and your family is to stay cosied up in your little cocoon and shut away your old life. But if you’re in some of those friendships for the long haul, you might need to push yourself out of your comfort zone a little at this point.

“Me and two friends go on an overnight girls trip once a year. I must admit, in the time since my daughter has been here (and she’s over a year now) I haven’t really wanted to leave her at all. I still don’t, really. But actually, I think it would be good for me to have a bit of ‘old life’ and ‘me time’. And actually, one friend has really been through the wringer this year. I really should be there for her. I might even enjoy myself.” Jude, mum to Tia, 14 months

PHASE FOUR: Finding your groove

It might take months. Years. You might find you’re looking for it forever more but in general you’ll get your groove back. You might be dancing to a different tune than before but your life will find its new rhythm. And with that rhythm a social life will emerge in some form.

Naturally, you’ll start to have more time for those friendships you’ve kept warm. Continue to make an effort in line with the time you have, now things have calmed down a bit.

“When the first heady haze of new parenting passed, I did start to crave my old friendships. A little ‘me time’ – an escape from my new normal. Luckily, I had plenty of my old friends waiting in the wings to accompany me on those more regular nights out. Wild partying it wasn’t but a 5 o’clock pedi with a friend and then back for a kiss goodnight with my baby was just the sort of juggling I was, and still am, happy to do. And I feel mightily clever to be striking this balance.” Bethany, mum to Mack, 13 months

AND FINALLY: Don’t cling on to something not worth keeping

As the title of this article states, we’re absolutely in the camp of keeping your pre-baby friends. But it’s also good to be aware of when enough might be enough.

“Do you know what, I’ve had a couple of good friends who have barely been in touch since my daughter was born. To begin with I was forgiving – life gets in the way, we’re all busy, etc etc. Then I thought I’d try to push it and invited them over once, and then twice.

“When a year passed and they’d still not met her I decided that was that, and consigned those friendships to the history books. One got in touch on email recently and said we were due a coffee in the most casual of ways. No mention of meeting my daughter at all. I felt like throwing my laptop out the window. I didn’t reply. I feel really happy and liberated by that decision actually. Like I gave myself a cutoff point and moved on.” Deb, mum to Lulu, 13 months

This page was last reviewed in December 2018.

Further information

Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700. 

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.

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.

Read further articles on relationships in our dedicated section here, including this one on changing friendships and parenthood. This one on how to get non-parent friends interested in your baby, and this one on making new mum friends.

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