Social interactions are basically any contact that we have with other people. Everybody’s social interactions are different. Some of us are social animals and some are more introverted, and this can change over time. Some people have lots of hobbies or very social workplaces. Some people need face-to-face contact to feel connected, others experience strong connection by phone, messages, or even memes. Think about how you socialised pre pregnancy and during pregnancy? Has this changed after having your baby?
Who is in your social network?
Plot this out on paper or a notes app. Think about how close you are. How often do you communicate? What are the ways you communicate: face to face, online, by phone, letter, in a group? Has your network changed since having the baby?
Have you seen more of some people and less of others? Any new people or people who have surprised you with the amount of contact you have had? Are you seeing more of some people you might not chose to have so involved in your life such as your in laws? How are you navigating this? Can you discuss this?
It is important to have social interactions in a way that suits you, after having your baby. You might feel like you only have the capacity to send a snap or meme, or you might be craving deeper conversations with other adults. It can feel quite isolated being at home for long periods caring for your child. If you are not working, you may be missing out on the incidental social components of your work as well as any stronger connections you had made there.
You might need to actively build a bigger network of people to spend time with. It can be daunting making new friends as an adult. You may be introduced to a new parent’s group or chose to attend a playgroup. Shop around for a group that suits you and works with how you communicate and prefer to socialise. Consider attending classes like story time at a library if it’s easier for you to have a task focus when socialising. If you have some social anxiety, look at learning mindfulness or meditation or try using an app like “Calm” to help you deal with this. Babies are a good social lubricant, as you can always discuss their lives and you can use them as an excuse to leave or stay in an environment depending how you are feeling.
Did your social connections before pregnancy focus on alcohol, exercise, or anything that you are currently not doing in the same way? Can these activities be adapted to allow for contact with this group or these people? For example, an exercise group with babies, or using a creche or babysitter to attend a gym? If you always went for dinner, could you do lunch or brunch instead? Who can you spend time with during weekdays? Look at the “feed safe” app and Australian Breastfeeding Association website to learn about alcohol and breastfeeding or expressing.
Think about who is the instigator of socialising in your relationships or groups. If you were always the person who organised or initiated contact, consider if you still feel able to do this. You might need to talk to your network about this. Things that always worked organically might need to become more conscious processes.
You might find that after having a baby you need to cancel or change plans more than you have before. How do you feel about this? How do you think your network might react to this? Do you feel able to have open and honest conversations about how you all feel about it?
Consider researching love languages and working out with your social network what these are. It helps to build deeper connections with those around you if you know the ways they give and receive love. Everyone feels more heard and seen and it is easier to keep connections strong.
Strong social connections help to maintain good mental health. Make it a priority to review how your network and activities are working for you and reach out for help if they need attention.