How to Navigate Pregnancy Loneliness

How to Navigate Pregnancy Loneliness

Pregnancy loneliness can be downright confusing.

You got that BFP.

You’re excited to meet your peanut in the not-too-distant future.

You’re putting together baby showers and baby gear and baby rooms.

But yet, you can’t help but feel isolated and sad.

First, it’s totally fine to be experiencing a range of emotions right now, sometimes simultaneously.

And just because you’re feeling disconnected or down, it doesn’t mean you’re unhappy about being pregnant.

Second, if you are experiencing severe sadness or anxiety, it’s important to get help.

Clinical depression and anxiety disorders are serious medical conditions that require treatment.

Whether you are experiencing feeling alone during pregnancy for the first time or have had mental health problems before, it’s essential to reach out to a healthcare professional.

Your doctor can tailor treatment to your pregnant body to keep you and your baby healthy.

And if you need immediate help, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers both a national helpline and a treatment facility locator.

The crucial thing to know is that you’re not alone and that you can feel better.

With that all in mind, we’ll take you through what can lead to feelings of loneliness during pregnancy and give you tips for navigating it.

In this article: 📝

  • Is feeling lonely during pregnancy normal?
  • Tips for navigating feeling alone during pregnancy
  • Navigating pregnancy loneliness: the bottom line

Is feeling lonely during pregnancy normal?

Yes ‒ and there are so many different reasons why.

Pregnancy is filled with things that nobody tells you about.

There’s a whole lot going on in your body, including hormonal surges and all the fun they cause.

You may be navigating symptoms, from pregnancy nausea to fatigue to mood swings.

And all of this can leave you feeling like you don’t really want to socialize, and that even your best friends don’t get where you’re at ‒ basically the perfect cocktail for feeling alone during pregnancy.

There’s also a whole lot going on in your life right now.

Big changes are afoot ‒ and that can be scary.

It may feel as though the nature of some of your relationships is changing.

And you may be nervous about what motherhood will bring to all elements of your life.

You might be going on maternity leave, or the whole nature of your work life may be changing for good.

Of course, the fact that we’ve just gone through a global pandemic hasn’t helped.

As if feeling isolated during pregnancy wasn’t common enough, having to social distance ourselves from our support networks only made matters worse.

The road to getting pregnant can also be very lonely, particularly if you have struggled to conceive.

Depression and infertility have serious links.

And because we don’t talk about the realities nearly enough, the already-challenging experience of trying to conceive can become even more so.

So while there is so much to look forward to at this time, there are also many reasons to feel disconnected from yourself and others.

Recently, new research has been undertaken into the effects of loneliness in pregnancy and beyond.

It may not surprise you that they’re finding it to be a common experience.

But what is really significant is how much loneliness ties into other mental health issues.

Because of this, experts are now recommending that healthcare professionals screen for signs of loneliness in their pregnant patients.

This recent evidence review showed just how much feeling lonely can contribute to mental health challenges in pregnancy and as a new mother.

And this is serious.

Although not spoken about as much as postpartum depression, depression in pregnancy (antepartum depression) is a very real and sometimes dangerous condition.

It’s more common than one might think, affecting somewhere between 14 and 23% of pregnant people.

The problem is that it often goes undiagnosed ‒ mainly because we are very quick to write off mood shifts as “just hormones.”

Depression that is not treated can be risky for you and your baby.

It’s much harder to keep up with all the dos and don’ts of pregnancy, like not smoking and drinking, eating a nutritious diet, and exercising, when you’re experiencing depressive symptoms.

But there’s a lot of hope here!

Depression is treatable during pregnancy.

Talk therapy has been shown to be a very effective tool in addressing symptoms.

As for medication, it may also be an option for you.

The question of taking antidepressant medication during pregnancy is still being debated as it comes with some risks.

But the risks of untreated depression may be even greater.

The word from the American Pregnancy Association is to navigate this question with your doctor.

They’ll be able to look at your unique situation, and you can decide together what is right for you.

Either way, there is help available for you.

Tips for navigating feeling alone during pregnancy

So what do you do if you are feeling lonely when pregnant?

Well, if you’re here, that’s a great first step.

Here are some other things you can try—all tried and tested, so we know they can work.

1. Talk about it!

While loneliness during pregnancy is a common experience, we can feel even more isolated because we think we’re the only ones going through it.

The more we talk about it, the more we may see just how many others are feeling the same way.

And once we verbalize our feelings, we normalize them and make space to deal with them productively.

If you have a partner, tell them how you’re feeling. And if you’re struggling to understand each other’s experiences, couples therapy can help.

2. Get help for your mental health.

If you are battling with sadness, overwhelm, or anxiety, it’s really important to get medical help so that you can take care of yourself and your baby.

Support groups can be really effective as part of treatment for antenatal depression.

They also connect you to a community of those going through similar life experiences.

3. Connect with other pregnant people.

Of course, it’s wonderful to be surrounded by your friends and family at this time.

But building up a support system of other pregnant people can be hugely beneficial.

There are various ways to do this. Joining an antenatal class in your area is a great idea.

As is participating in pregnant-friendly activities (prenatal yoga for the win!).

And, of course, there’s Peanut.

Our online, supportive community is a place to find friendship, support, and advice as you go through this life phase and beyond.

Find your bump buddy here.

4. Turn up the volume on the self-care.

Looking after yourself can help you feel more confident, calm, and connected.

And this doesn’t have to be complicated.

Eat nutritious foods, get rest, and participate in activities that you enjoy.

Exercise also really helps to boost mood.

(The recommendation is at least 150 minutes of exercise a week ‒ so that could be 30 minutes a day, five times a week.)

Best case scenario?

Exercise with others.

This could mean joining a walking group or exercise class at your gym.

Just chat with your doctor first if you’d like to try a new form of exercise, particularly if they are monitoring you for specific health conditions.

Navigating pregnancy loneliness: the bottom line

It’s totally normal to be feeling alone during pregnancy.

You are going through some serious physical, emotional, and social transitions ‒ and all of that can be overwhelming.

But know that you’re not alone.

The more we have this conversation, the more we can support ourselves through the adjustments that come with pregnancy and beyond.

We just don’t have to do this alone.

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