How Friendships Change After Having A Kid

Illustrated by Norah Stone.
Having a child changes your life in major ways. That’s obvious. But one thing you might not expect — or be totally prepared for — is how having a kid will influence your friendships, especially with those pals who may not be in the same life stage. After all, your mind is focused on things like diapers, strollers, and the tiny, wonderful creature you are desperately trying to keep alive. Meanwhile, your friends still have time to binge-watch an entire season of Jessica Jones in one sitting or meet up for bottomless brunch. There's no turning point in a woman's life quite like motherhood.

Which is why we tapped experts James Kicinski-McCoy and Katie Hintz-Zambrano from Mother Mag, an online destination for the modern mom, for advice on how to deal with post-baby life changes. Ahead, 10 things you might not have realized about friendships after childbirth — until now.
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1 of 10
Illustrated by Norah Stone.
We'll start with one that stings. But, even if you’ve been super close throughout your entire pregnancy, something might just not feel right about having your BFF at the birth of your child. Some women want their girlfriends right outside the delivery-room door, while others prefer a next-day visit. Still others would rather not see their friends until a week or so postpartum — and you're probably not going to know exactly where you fall until you're in the situation yourself. A good friend is going to respect your wishes and realize that it's not a reflection of your relationship — or about her at all, really.
2 of 10
Illustrated by Norah Stone.
Those days of spontaneous visits and hours upon hours of quality time are a thing of the past. Instead, your friends need to adhere to your new baby's schedule, however irritating it may be. (Non-parents, trust us: It's awful for a new mom when people arrive an hour later than they said they would, especially when she was trying to present a happy, fresh-from-a-nap baby. Devastating.) Keep in mind, that's if you even want to see your friends. Those hallowed nap-time bubbles might be the only time a mother has to herself, and rather than use it to socialize, you might want to use it to sleep, shower, make way on a to-do list, or just be. Any post-childbirth friendship is going to require a lot of text exchanges in order to find a visiting time that works for everyone’s schedule. Finally making it happen can be exhausting, but there's nothing more rejuvenating than spending time with your favorite people.
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3 of 10
Illustrated by Norah Stone.
Many new moms like to stay close to home for the first few weeks, especially if they're trying to get the hang of nursing, so if your friends aren’t coming to you, you’re likely not going to see them. Even once you are feeling a little more adventurous, it's likely that a meet-up at one of your former haunts might not be possible. That's fine. You'll find new, baby-friendly version of your favorite hangs. And if you can, make the effort to have someone else watch the baby every once in a while, so you can spend real quality time with your friends. (It's impossible to focus on anything else when your baby is in the room.) If you're already back at work, even better. Don't underestimate the restorative power of sneaking in a quick lunch date or after-work drink.
4 of 10
Illustrated by Norah Stone.
Speaking of quality time looking different, those epic girlfriend getaways, spontaneous drinks, long phone calls, and hours upon hours spent laughing over dinner and "your shows" probably aren't part of the picture anymore. That sucks, and it’s totally normal for you and your friends to mourn your former lives together. It might even be a little awkward for a while, until you find a new groove. But motherhood doesn't suddenly turn you into a boring zombie or an asshole with no sense of humor. Those long phone calls will probably be shorter, and will definitely involve talk of baby milestones. You can still have your shows, you may just watch them on different schedules. Over time, you’ll learn to appreciate how far you’ve come to arrive at the place you currently are.
5 of 10
Illustrated by Norah Stone.
If your friends don’t have kids of their own, they might not necessarily know how to help out a family with a new baby. That’s why it’s your duty to tell them. If you're going nuts from the endless take-out, ask your closest friends to start a Meal Train so that food can be conveniently dropped off at your doorstep during those first few weeks and months. If you have a long list of errands or groceries you need, tell your friend something specific she can pick up on her way over to visit you and the baby (if you can't think of anything, just say diapers...you can never really have too many on hand). And remember, if you just want to talk to someone who's not your partner for a few hours, that's a valid need, too.
6 of 10
Illustrated by Norah Stone.
After you have a kid, your priorities shift — even if you don’t want them to. Often, a few of the things you once found interesting will become temporarily replaced by feeding schedules, sleep-training theories, and the like. On the flip side, your friends’ priorities have remained the same. You can't blame them for that, as you're the one who's changed. But sometimes you can't help but change the expectations you have for the people around you, and their inability to conform to your new needs might be downright annoying. She keeps inviting you to dinner and drinks, knowing full well you only have your nanny until 5 p.m., for example, or she declined an invite to come over for mid-day baby visiting, but didn't offer up another option that works better for her. Or maybe you're running on two hours of sleep and finding it hard to even keep your end of the conversation. You guys just aren't matching up right now, and it's okay to admit that that's not awesome. Sometimes this passes; sometimes you realize you need to find new friends.
7 of 10
Illustrated by Norah Stone.
Yes, having a kid rocks your world — friendships included — in a major way. Once you have a baby, you can always tell who your true friends are. They are the ones who are genuinely interested in you and your new addition, even if they have no children of their own or any intention of having kids ever. These are the friends who become "aunts" and "uncles" and feel more like family than friends. For those friendships that aren’t flowing as naturally and require a lot more effort, they might be gradually moved over to the “acquaintance" column. And in our experience, this isn't necessarily a bad thing.
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8 of 10
Illustrated by Norah Stone.
You might have laughed at the idea before you gave birth, but after you are grappling with all the new issues and struggles that a new baby brings, you’ll want to buddy up with someone who understands exactly what you’re going through. (And spare your kidless friends some of the poop and sleep talk while you're at it.) Of course, making parent friends isn’t always easy. Start by reaching out to friends or acquaintances that have kids — ideally around the same age as yours — and you’ll eventually grow your circle of moms and dads by having your friends hook you up with their friends, and so on. Not being afraid to strike up a conversation at the park, a baby class, or local parenting group is also key. Ideally, you’ll find somone who you feel so close to, you know you’d be friends whether you had kids or not.
9 of 10
Illustrated by Norah Stone.
Let's be clear on one thing: While motherhood does not kill friendships, it tends to create distance. It's easy for friends to drift apart when they are in different phases of life. If you’ve just had a baby, and your bestie is recovering from a bad breakup, chances are you’re going to find yourselves on very different pages, mentally. Whereas, if you have a friend trying to get pregnant and interested in all things baby, you might feel a lot closer. For those of your friends far away from the baby-track or not interested in having a kid at all, a friendship with someone wrapped up in the excitement (and exhaustion) of raising a new baby might require a lot more effort. The fix? There might not be one. Understand that relationships, like many things in life, ebb and flow. You can have an open and honest conversation about your changing friendship, but it might not remedy the situation if you're both naturally heading in different directions.
10 of 10
Illustrated by Norah Stone.
Depending on how much patience you both have with each other around this huge milestone, your friendship could come out even better than it was before. Remember that friendship is a two-way street. Friends of new mothers don’t always know when to call and what to say. They often want to give you your space and they don’t want to interrupt. To stay connected, you need to show them that they are still important. Let them know your windows of availability, reassure them that you want them to come over. And once they are there, ask about their lives, and try your hardest to listen — even if your kid is wailing. Make an effort to set aside some time to go out into their world, too. You know, the one you used to inhabit. Getting out of your own baby bubble every now and then is key for your own sanity — and will go a long way to showing your main girl how much you still value her.
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