When you have a baby, you can expect many strange and wondrous things to happen after you deliver (i.e. the leaking, the sleep deprivation, the newfound appreciation for mesh panties). But what might surprise you is that, sometimes, even your relationships with those closest to you can go on a rollercoaster ride, too. Although you might expect your feelings for your partner to intensify in one way or another, it can be somewhat shocking to discover that friendships change after having a baby. And sometimes, it has nothing to do with you.
It can be bewildering when your BFF for the past, well, forever suddenly seems to fall off the face of the earth. Or you seem to sense a shift with your gal pal that has made the friendship feel pretty frosty. Before you blame it on your hormones and assume it’s all in your head, keep in mind that even in your sleepy stupor, you just might be right. “It’s to be expected that friendships will change, because it’s all part of the evolution of the person,” Beverley Andre, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Romper. “You are becoming a parent, and your friend is becoming the friend of the person who is becoming a parent, and that’s not always easy. There’s a lot of grace that will be needed because it’s a serious learning curve.”
Here’s Why Friendships Change After Having A Baby
Your Friend Might Be Struggling With Infertility
Although you might want to be lifelong friends, it’s important to realize that some friendships are seasonal, and not forever. “When you have a baby, you enter a completely new world; some of your friends will come with you and some won't,” Chloe Ballatore, a relationship and communication expert, tells Romper. “Often, women who can't have babies or don't want kids will drop off.” It can be too painful to watch their friend enjoying their new life and baby, and although they might be happy for you, it can cause a fracture in the friendship.
Your Friend Might Be Giving You Space
From walking around with puke on your shoulder (and not giving a damn about it), to being an hour late in getting anywhere, life with a newborn is an eye opener for sure. And your bestie, bless her heart, sees your struggle and might be stepping aside not to distance themselves, but to simply give you the space you need to adapt to your new life. Sure would be nice if you had gotten a heads up, though, says Andre. “By stepping back, they are giving their friend the grace that they need to do for their journey,” explains Andre. “But if that’s not communicated, it can look like a withdrawal.” So even if they have the best of intentions, by stepping back so you don’t feel pressured (but not explaining why), can leave you feeling like you’ve just lost one of your closest confidants.
Your Friendship Might Not Be In Sync Anymore
B.B. (Before Belly), you and your BFF were inseparable. You did everything together, anytime, anywhere. But that’s not the case now that you’re schlepping around a sh*tload of baby gear, and, well, your friend might not be appreciating it anymore. “It's not that you no longer like each other, it's that life priorities and experiences change,” Christina Steinorth-Powell, a licensed psychotherapist and author of Cue Cards for Men: A Man's Guide to Love and Life, tells Romper. “Your childless friend may want to do spur of the moment things that you're not able to anymore once you have a child.” So it’s not that there’s any jealousy or resentment per se; it’s simply that you aren’t on the same page anymore when it comes to how you are living your lives.
Here’s How You Can Repair Your Friendship After Having A Baby
Assess Your Own Expectations
Change, as they say, is the one constant in life. Still, it sucks when it happens in a friendship, especially at a time when you might want your bestie the most. So start by looking at the change from your own perspective, Dr. LaToya S. Gilmore, Ed.D, LPC, NCC, a licensed professional counselor tells Romper. “One can start by reframing how they view the shift,” explains Dr. Gilmore. “A shift doesn’t necessarily have to mean all is lost, it’s simply an indication that things are different and adjustments should be made.” And because change is always inevitable, you should try to be open to embracing the transition. After all, it doesn’t mean that all is lost; it simply means that something has shifted.
Make Some Time Just For You And Your Friend
Before you go on an apology tour, let it be stated that you should never feel like you have to apologize for the time you’re taking to bond with your baby and recover after delivery. Any real and true friend will understand that. If you’re finding that your friendship has fractured due to not being in step with your BFF, though, try to set aside some time that doesn’t involve baby, Steinorth-Powell says. “One of the best things new moms can do to maintain the closeness they once shared with a good friend post baby is to designate a girls night every few weeks without your baby in tow,” she says. “Not only is this good for your friendship, it's also good for you to get a break from all-things-new-mom.”
Give Your Friend Some Time
Some friends might feel like they got dumped as soon as you delivered. If that’s the case, you should speak with your friend to understand their feelings. “If a person has triggers of abandonment, you have to put that in check and address it personally,” says Andre. “If you understand the friend and their intention, you can ask them to be understanding and help to support you the way you need to be in this new phase.” Be reassuring your friend that you still love and care for them, hopefully they will understand your need for space as you adjust to parenthood.
While it might seem that you and your friend tell each other everything, you might be unaware of your BFF’s own infertility struggle. So while she might be happy for you, seeing you with a baby (and wanting one of their own), might be too much, says Ballatore. “It may be too painful for them to witness you and your happy baby, or they may be bored with ‘kid stuff.’" In that case, you might find some separation is good for both of you. And who knows, they may return when the kids are a little older, or things have shifted in their own fertility journey.
Whatever the reason might be, it can be hurtful when you feel that your friend is pulling away from you during one of the most special times in your life. Before you let the separation permanently damage your friendship, speak with your buddy first to find out the explanation that they offer. It might be a miscommunication, or it could be that your friendship just needs a pause. In the meantime, this can be an opportunity to form new friendships with people who share similar interests and are in the same stage of life that you’re in. And hopefully, your friendship with your pal will not just weather, but survive this special season of your life.
Beverley Andre, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist
Christina Steinorth-Powell, a licensed psychotherapist and author of Cue Cards for Men: A Man's Guide to Love and Life
Dr. LaToya S. Gilmore, Ed.D, LPC, NCC, a licensed professional counselor