When I was pregnant with my son, I had only two good friends with babies and neither lived in the same city as me. One doesn't even live in the same country. My husband and I moved to a more family-friendly part of London a month before my son was born. I knew there were lots of other mums with babies nearby and everyone had told me it's easy to make friends when you have a baby but I found it hard to think how I'd meet people that I really liked and anyway, did I really need new friends to talk baby stuff with?
After the first couple of weeks and once my husband had gone back to work, I found myself missing work and adult interaction. I would bombard my husband with questions and conversation in the evenings because I hadn't really spoken to anyone all day! I realised I definitely needed to get out to some groups and activities for some adult conversation.
My first outing to an organised class with baby was when he was 8 weeks old. I went to a post-natal yoga class and at the end, the teacher brought out tea and biscuits so we could sit around and chat. I couldn't put my finger on it but there was something really nice about being with some other women who had little babies just like me and had been through a similar sleep-starved first couple of months.
I joined a local mums group and went along to a coffee meet-up one morning. It was a simple gathering of 8-10 mums sat around a table in a cafe, getting to know one another. It sounds cliché but we shared stories of our births and struggles with feeding and sleeping. There were a few women I met there who seemed very down-to-earth and fun and we've gone on to become good friends. One has since moved away from the area but we still keep in touch and make visits to see one another. With mummy friends, it's not just that you have a baby in common, I think it's more the sharing of experiences as your little one grows and you both go through different stages. Your mummy friends know exactly what you mean and what you've gone through so you don't need to give any explanations as you do with friends who don't have babies.
As the babies grow, they play together and you get some decent conversation and company at the same time. Contrary to what one might think, it's definitely not all baby talk but at the same time, it's ok if it is.
The local mums group I belong to was set up a couple of years ago by an American woman who having moved to the area, realised there were no organised groups of any kind and so decided to set up her own. The group now has 300 members, mums with children from ages 0 to 5. There's a website with details of activities going on in the surrounding area, school information and listings of our meet-ups and events. There's a weekly e-newsletter that gets sent out to all the members, informing everyone of what's going on that week. We organise a big summer picnic in the local park, Halloween and Christmas parties and do things like movie nights and pub nights. It's a great community feel, belonging to a group like this.
Mothers hear about the group mostly by word-of-mouth. The doctor's surgery seems to be a prime place for striking up conversations with other mothers who are sitting in the waiting room with their children. The playground in the park or the singing sessions at the local library are also often places where mothers get talking and someone who belongs to the group suggests to another mum that she might like to join.
If you're a new mum looking to find some mummy friends in your area, check what's on in your neighbourhood. Local libraries, council-run children's centres and parks are all good places to start. You'll probably find other mums smile at you as you walk down the street and even if you're the shy type, striking up a conversation with another mum at the doctor's surgery, in a coffee shop or wherever will probably prove to be easier than you thought. For some reassurance, here's an article talking about how a woman's social life improves after they've given birth!
Do you have a close network of mummy friends? How did you meet them and what do they mean to you?