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Maternity leave can feel lonelier than you would expect

Maternity leave is not always a walk in the park, pushing a stroller on a sunny day. Sometimes it's sitting at home with the curtains pulled, feeding your baby and wondering if your old co-workers are all out at lunch together.

It's common to feel lonely during this time of transition. But for some, adjusting to maternity leave is even lonelier and harder than they imagined.

In fact, according to a poll conducted for BBC Radio 5 live by ComRes in the U.K., 47% of women felt lonely while on maternity leave. But that's not all the study of just over 1,000 women discovered.

While loneliness was felt by almost half of the respondents, 27% also said they didn't enjoy maternity leave as much as they thought they would. How unpleasant was maternity leave for some? Well, two out of five women missed their jobs and going to work, and one out of five wished they went back to work sooner.

New research also out of the U.K. shows that a staggering 82% of moms under 30 feel lonely some of the time while more than four in 10 (43%) are lonely often or always. And it's worse for younger moms; those between 18 to 25 are often or always lonely compared with 37% of those 26 through 30.

So, we know not all mamas are enjoying their maternity leave, but why is it so hard sometimes?

This U.K study revealed that more than 80% of mums under 30 say they meet their friends less often after having their child. It makes sense that someone would feel lonely when they suddenly don't have a job to go to, aren't seeing their friends anymore and are home alone with their beautiful baby all day.

But it won't be like that forever, according to Angela Anagnost-Repke, who previously wrote for Motherly about her experiences. Initially lonely and overwhelmed, Angela wasn't sure how to overcome her feelings of despair.

"After a few months of staying home with my two small children, sorrow began to creep into me. My life began to feel like it was stuck on repeat. I'd wake up, perform mundane chore after mundane chore, and play pretend Little People with the kids," she wrote of her personal experiences.

But by reaching out to her husband and letting him know how she felt, she felt a burden lift off her shoulders. Soon, with his encouragement, she was able to find herself again.

"I started graduate school, began typing stories on my laptop, and trained for a half marathon. Slowly, the loneliness faded and my vivacity sprang back into me. I became a happier mother."

Besides confiding to loved ones, making friends with other moms is a huge help for getting over the maternity leave blues. It's not always easy, but worth the effort, noted Mellisa Skolnick, who detailed her experiences in the past.

"You keep looking though. She's out there. Just like that one true friend you had in high school. Just like a unicorn riding on a rainbow. That elusive four-leaf clover. If you kiss enough frogs you will be rewarded. And when it happens, it's like fireworks on the Fourth of July. Time stops and a theme song begins to play in the background of your life. That's when the wooing begins," Skolnick said.

Last month, the British government appointed a Minister for Loneliness. The new role was created to look at strategies for dealing with what health professionals around the world are calling an "epidemic" of isolation and disconnection—an issue widely attributed to an aging population and rising rates of people choosing to live alone in countries like the United Kingdom, United States and Canada.

While something similar hasn't popped up in North America quite yet (though there should be as loneliness is a societal problem that is as dangerous as obesity some say) there are still ways to reach out and tackle those lonely days.

1. Mama needs mama friends. Sometimes making friends with other moms is harder than it sounds but a great way to make new friends is to just strike up a conversation at the local park, your next yoga class or even online in a local mom group chat. Don't be shy! There's thousands of other moms out there going through the same thing as you.

2. Schedule some YOU time. Newborns take a lot of time and energy and it's easy to become overtired and overwhelmed so it's important to look after yourself, too. Whether it's a walk in the park sans stroller, a bubble bath or yoga and meditation, don't forget to set some time aside to collect your thoughts. According to psychologist Dr. Christina Hibbert, this alone time should be to unwind, relax, rest, and revive mama, (not complete your to-do list).

3. Confide in someone you love. Whether it's your partner, your parents, your siblings or your best friend, it's important to open up about your experiences when transitioning into motherhood and remember; you're never alone!

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Who says you have to wait for birthdays or holidays to give your bestie a great gift? A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs in these more-than-trying times. We've rounded up some of our favorite go-to gifts that are certain to be a bright spot in her week. But be warned, you may want to snag a few for yourself. (You deserve it, mama.)

Here are some our favorite "just because" gifts to give our hardworking mama friends.

New Mother face + body care duo

volition face + body care duo

This correcting oil and stretch mark minimizer is perfect for the pregnant mama looking to keep her pregnancy glow. The correcting oil brightens the skin while reducing dark spots, and the stretch mark minimizer works to smooth her ever-growing belly.

$70

Allover roller

esker allover roller

This jade roller goes beyond your typical face roller and can be used anywhere on the body. It works to increase stimulation and reduce puffiness and is perfect for applying any oils to the face or body. Plus, it feels like a mini spa treatment.

$65

Kombucha making kit

farmsteady kombucha making kit

What could be a more perfect gift for the health-obsessed friend? This kombucha making kit comes with everything you need to brew your own homemade green tea kombucha. They'll think this is the tastiest gift ever.

$45

Laetitia lipstick

cupid & psyche laetitia

This red lipstick is perfect for your makeup enthusiast bestie who is looking to spruce up her life in quarantine. Crafted in the United States, these bee and vegan-friendly and cruelty-free lipsticks are created to flatter all complexions. Cupid and Psyche Beauty makes finding the perfect red lip way too easy!

$23

Jigsaw puzzle

inner piecec jigsaw puzzle

Mamas need to destress now more than ever during quarantine. This adorable jigsaw puzzle is perfect for the mama who needs a brain break! The 500-piece puzzle designed by artist Ray Oranges features an abstract gradient design that fits a standard frame when completed. Bonus: It's printed on recycled paper and the company donates $1 from every puzzle sold to youth mindfulness programs.

$30

Matilda's Bloombox

matilda's bloombox

If we have to be stuck inside, we might as well have some gorgeous florals to brighten up the space. Matilda's Bloombox locally sources blooms, delivers them to her door and provides simple tips on how to arrange it into a beautiful bouquet.

$39

'I Am Enough' bracelet

I Am Enough bracelet

Let this dainty bracelet serve as a constant reminder to your bestie that she is enough. She'll wear this on her wrist and read this daily oath to herself, "I Am Enough."

$35

Glow assorted teas

vahdam low assorted teas

This tea gift box set covers the entire spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Individually packaged in beautiful tins, your gal pal will feel like a queen sipping her morning tea. Originally $40, this set is currently on sale for just $24. We'll take two, please.

$24

Find your voice journal

find your voice journal

Journaling is a great way to ease anxiety and will slow your bestie's racing mind before bed. This gift is perfect for first time journalists and includes prompts, daily quotes and coloring pages to help her unlock her potential and find her voice.

$22

Premium frother

shore magic premium frother

This gift is fitting for your latte-sipping bestie who can't go a day without her coffee. All she has to do is add two scoops of collagen to her favorite drink, and she'll have a perfectly foamy drink ready in seconds. Skipping the drive-thru line has never been so easy!

$25

Bath soak infusion kit

maude bath soak infusion kit

Say hello to hydration! She'll be feeling smooth and relaxed as ever after a long bath soaking in these salts. This vegan + cruelty-free set incorporates dead sea salt and dehydrated coconut milk powder for an ultra hydrating experience.

$32

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

It's a hard-earned title she answers to a hundred times per day. Whether she's new to the club or a seasoned professional, this delicate script 'mama' necklace is guaranteed to be a perfect fit.

$105

Superfood honey

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered honey

With a lack of sleep and jam-packed days, getting through the afternoon can be a real challenge. Send her a powerful pick-me-up in the form of a therapeutic blend of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey. It makes the ideal companion for tea, smoothies, yogurt or even on its on.

$17

Calming midnight mask with melatonin

Who doesn't deserve a reminder to pamper themself every once in awhile? Even better, this mask does all its work at night while you're sleeping with no extra effort needed. It's an amazing plant-powered antioxidant-packed mask that has melatonin, wild dandelion leaf and hyaluronic acid to rehydrate, repair and reset facial skin. It's so good, you might want to gift it to yourself. We won't tell, mama.

$68

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