Recently I had two hours alone with my 3-month-old. It was lovely. I could give him all my attention and have uninterrupted daytime chats.

 

I was able to leave him on his play mat and put on the kettle without fear of a two-year-old jumping on him. It was all very relaxed and quiet. I had forgotten about the quietness. 

 

As he was due a nap, I brought him out for a walk. I was excited about being able to walk at my normal speed and the possibility of working off some of the chocolate I routinely inhale. I took my usual route that normally took an hour. It took me tens minutes. The baby was asleep and I realised power walking in skinny jeans wasn't really a good idea. I also realised I had been speaking aloud to the sleeping baby. I was so used to having a little companion with me that the silence once again hit me.

 

I was with the baby but it almost felt like I was alone. 

 

That is the biggest shock of maternity leave for first-time mums.

 

I recalled the silent walks I had around the London parks. I was on maternity leave from a job that involved me speaking with approximately 200 people a day. It was quite a culture shock. Thankfully, I have no qualms with speaking my thoughts aloud to a sleeping baby. Other people might find it strange. I was once followed around a supermarket by an elderly lady who found it endearing that I spoke to my sleeping baby the whole time I did my shopping. 

 

A lot of new mums are plucked from a busy working environment to spending their days alone with a tiny person who has no comprehension of what you are talking about. This can be both isolating and lonely. Hence why so many mums follow parenting blogs to voice their opinions. But again silently, through their phone or tablet. It's no wonder a lot of new mums struggle with mental health. Thoughts in your head always tend to spiral more than thoughts which are discussed in conversation.

 

Personally, I find when you talk to someone your thoughts don't seem as bad as they were.

 

To all the new mums who feel like they spend their days in a vortex of silence, I hear you. Say hi to people when you are out on your walk. Chat with the old ladies who ask one too many questions about your baby. Call your friends instead of texting. As I say to my toddler; "use your words".  

 

If you know a new mum, reach out to them in the old-fashioned way. Visit them or give them a call. They will appreciate the gesture.

Michelle Greaves: mum of two boys, writer, photographer, traveller, secondary school teacher.

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