New mothers left lonely and isolated after childbirth

The extent to which young mothers are left feeling lonely and isolated after having a baby has been revealed by the Co-op and the British Red Cross.

New research shows that a staggering 82 per cent per cent of mums under 30 feel lonely some of the time while more than four in 10 (43 per cent) are lonely often or always.

The survey shows a sense of isolation is felt most acutely by younger mothers. Almost half (49 per cent) of mothers aged between 18 and 25 are often or always lonely compared with 37 per cent who are aged between 26 and 30.

This new research also shows that more than 80 per cent of mums under 30 say they meet their friends less often after having their child.

This is down to a wide range of reasons, almost six in ten (60 per cent) cited lack of money while 55 per cent said feeling tired, 47 per cent claimed they wanted to stay with their children and 38 per cent said the hassle of organising childcare was a reason why they did not go out more and socialise.

Trapped in a Bubble, previous ground-breaking research by the Co-op and British Red Cross, identified that becoming a young mother was one of the life-changing events that can trigger loneliness.  However it was one of the least likely to be recognised as an at risk group by the general public.

Now the Co-op and British Red Cross, who have been working in partnership for the past three years to help tackle loneliness, has recruited Home-Start, a leading family support charity, to expand its community-based support groups to help young parents who are lonely to gather, meet, talk and create their own support networks.

When asked what support would help people to feel less lonely, ‘meeting other young mums’ was by far the most popular suggestion, particularly amongst those aged 16-25, with more than 6 in 10 (64%) citing this as an option,  making clear the importance of peer support.

Home-Start UK plans to establish parent support groups in 15 more areas across the country, reaching hundreds more young parents a year. These specialist groups will add to the broader British Red Cross services introduced in 39 communities across the UK, which are supporting thousands of lonely and isolated adults of all ages and backgrounds, including new parents.

Paul Gerrard, Group Policy and Campaigns Director at the Co-op, said;

“People do not think of young mothers as being susceptible to being lonely but our research clearly highlights that it is a major problem.

“That is why we are delighted that Home-Start, with its specialist expertise in this area, will be helping lonely parents through its community support groups.”

Vivien Waterfield, Home-Start UK Deputy CEO said;

“Having a baby changes your life in so many ways – and it can be a really lonely time, especially for younger mums when they don’t have networks of support around them.  It can have a huge impact on their mental health and wellbeing. The number of mums telling us they are lonely or isolated has been increasing in recent years to almost 1 in 2 of all mums using Home-Start services.

“Younger mums often tell us that they’re reluctant to use existing services because of fear of being judged, which is why this  collaboration with the Co-op and Red Cross to develop a range of new groups and activities that are especially for young parents is so important.”

Zoë Abrams, Executive Director of Communications and Advocacy at British Red Cross said;

“Every day our staff and volunteers see first-hand the damaging effects of loneliness and social isolation. We know from our research that people of all backgrounds and ages are affected and that major life events can trigger loneliness. For some women, becoming a mother might mean they lose touch with their existing social connections and find it difficult to make new ones.

“Helping people feel better-connected in their communities and responding quickly when loneliness first takes hold is vital to reduce the serious impact felt by people. We’re proud to be working with Home-Start on a new project focussed on supporting young parents.”

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