I frequently write or post about the issue of isolation and lack of support of mothers.
Channel 4 has prepared a documentary about loneliness. And becoming a new mother is up there.
I will say this. There are struggles when we become mothers. Our 'seat' may have been in a city away from our homes - so when we have babies, we are thrust into a social environment where we know n.o.b.o.d.y.
We may not have family locally. Our partner is 'out at work'. Children's centres are closing. Pressure is on to 'get back to normal' and 'get back to work'. More of our contemporaries are doing just that.
The fact is, becoming a mother is a life-changing event for many women. We deserve a period of recovery in which we are nurtured, in the 'fourth trimester' for the benefit of our babies and ourselves.
Yet, many of us are left in the immediate care of a male partner who, quite frankly, will have not a clue about what we have been through. Neither of us may be familiar with the intimate and relentlessness of caring for a tiny babe. We may be struggling to breastfeed. We may well be carrying physical and/or emotional wounds from labour.
And it is a big one.
It shouldn't be this way. We are not supposed to do this alone. However, this is usually translated to 'we are not supposed to do this - hand the care over to someone else'.
Post-partum support of mothers, and skilled breastfeeding support and sensitive compassionate care of new mothers is shown to reduce the rates of post-partum depression. If we feel that we are 'part' instead of 'separate' from the 'real world', that would be a start. If we have a circle of practical and emotional support around us, that would be justice.
For many, being a mother is not oppressive. It is the conditions in which we are expected to mother which can make it so. Financial pressures, social pressures and isolation and lack of support.
Once I found 'my tribe' my sense of shell shock eased. Over time, I have found a real vibrant, supportive, accepting and warm circle around me. It wasn't until I became a mother that I experienced such connection beyond my immediate family and close friends. And I am grateful for that. It has made a difference to me. I know that I am not alone in feeling that way. Motherhood has relieved something in me - individualism.
Loneliness in our modern culture is not a symptom of motherhood. It is a symptom of disconnection. We thrive in communities. Women can thrive in the company of supportive women. We all need to be cared for at some point. New mothers are no exception.
Liberating Motherhood, Birthing the Purplestockings Movement, is published by Womancraft.
A version of this post first appeared on 8 December in https://politicsofmothering.wordpress.com/.Suggest a correction