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My Best Friend Had a Baby...Now What? How to Maintain Friendships After Kids

When I first found out my best friend of 21 years was pregnant, I cried and took the day off. This news was relayed over the phone, because I was in Los Angeles and she was in New York. You see, becoming a mother has been my best friend’s—let’s call her Lola—dream ever since I can remember. She absolutely couldn’t wait to have a baby and start a family with someone she loves.

Months passed and by the time I returned home to New York, Lola had her baby! An entire world in 8 pounds and 6 ounces. Naturally, life for my best friend got very busy, very quickly. Nearly overnight, our lives that had been in sync for decades, one step in front of the other, split apart. Lola took a giant step forward, and I missed the memo—I was still standing here, where we were.

Of course, this reality didn’t hit me until two months after the baby was born, when I was squeezed between a group of our high school friends at a bar in our hometown. Questions floated between glasses of cabernet, like, “Tell Lola congratulations! How is she doing?” and “Lola must be elated—that baby is so cute! Is she breastfeeding? “Do you know if she’s having people at the house yet?” Until one question cut right through, a bullseye towards me: “Sam, how are you doing?” I replied on auto-pilot, “Oh, Lola is wonderful! The baby is healthy and perfect.” To which the guy replied, “I asked how YOU are doing. This must be really hard for you—you both have always done everything together.” My eyes welled up. It was really hard for me, but with societal pressures and norms, I felt ashamed for feeling that way. After all, who was I to feel the landslide of our friendship because one of us had a baby? It wasn’t me that went through the joy and pain and fear and bliss of having your world turned upside down…it was Lola. So I started to question, how do new mamas and their best friends who aren’t moms yet adjust to this new life for everyone?

That's why I consulted with an expert, Dr. Vaneeta Sandhu, a clinical psychologist and the Head of Emotional Fitness at Coa, a gym for mental health, for her tips on maintaining friendships when you find yourselves at totally different points in your life.

How can BFFs cope with not getting as much real-time attention and support from their friends as they are used to?

Dr. Sandhu: It is helpful to show support to your friend as well as acknowledging what support you need, as well. One of the toughest parts of being a friend of a new mom is recognizing that this relationship that once met a specific set of your needs may not be able to do so right now.

Pause to recognize what needs this relationship satisfies. Is this person someone you can laugh with? Perhaps instead of a phone call to share the laugh, you leave them a voice note. Is this someone you can celebrate wins with? Maybe it doesn’t mean going out for those celebratory drinks right now, but sending them a photo of you celebrating to include them in the process. It doesn’t mean these are things that cannot exist anymore, it may just mean it’ll look differently for now.

Note that this may also be an opportunity for you, as a BFF, to grow another existing relationship. Perhaps there is another friend who is ready and willing to have that celebratory drink with you.

What can new moms do to maintain and strengthen their relationships post-baby, with a crazy new schedule and new responsibilities?

Dr. Sandhu: There’s so much time and energy going into caring for another human being that it’s okay if you’re not thinking about others like you used to. Here’s three approaches to maintain and strengthen relationships post-baby:

1. Make the time count by creating an “if, then” rule for yourself 

If there’s one thing that new moms know, it’s that time is of the essence. Use an if-then rule to give yourself the time to stay in touch with friends through text messages. For example, if I’m in the bathroom, then I have five minutes to send a text to reconnect with a friend; if I am waiting for a bottle to warm, then I have three minutes to respond to unread messages; if we’re bathing the baby, then we ask about each other’s day (with a partner).

2. Ask for help

There’s no way around it—keeping in touch with friends and family takes work. If you know that it will be a struggle to connect with others, ask for their help! It can be hard to ask for help, especially as a new mom. We want it to seem like we’ve got it together, that we know what we’re doing and that we’re a go-to person to get things done. We may worry that asking our friends for help makes us a burden, but what if I told you that asking for help would actually strengthen your relationships?

3. Set expectations

As a new mom, your schedule is no longer yours. This can make it tough to show up on time for a get together and even tougher to communicate for how long you can be in attendance. When invited out for a social gathering, initiate communication beforehand to share with others that you may not be able to show up on time and that you may not be able to stay for very long, but that you are committed to seeing them. For folks who do not have babies, they may not understand how scheduling can be challenging so be transparent about the struggle. This will reduce the chances that your loved ones will be frustrated or hold resentment.