It’s not just mojitos and crop tops that lose their appeal when you’re expecting, you can also disconnect with friends. But being bumped off can work both ways – and benefit all of you
I’ve always been a party girl, so when my shock pregnancy news arrived, it threw a baby-shaped bomb into my life. At 32, I wasn’t facing the prospect of being a teen mum, but my boyfriend and I had just got back together after two years apart and starting a family wasn’t top of our agenda. But what surprised me was that while my best mates were thrilled for me, others were less enthusiastic.
This, it seems, is a very common side effect of having a baby. In a recent poll of 4000 mums, 50% said they lost contact with a group of their friends after becoming pregnant and a quarter admitted they didn’t meet up with any old mates at all. You might assume this was driven by the mums and their new priorities, but what if – as I discovered – it’s the friends who give you the slip? Yes, welcome to the bump dump.
Off the invite list
When I told my news to some friends, after a few minutes of meek congratulations (followed by a rant telling me my life was over), my friends ordered more shots while I stood there like a lemon. I left soon after and burst into tears. Yes, my bar-crawling days were clearly now on hold, but I didn’t bank on feeling so abandoned.
'Your friends may not want to be reminded of the path they're not taking'
According to psychotherapist Dr Sheri Jacobson, this kind of behaviour is often explained by jealousy. ‘If someone is insecure because they’re not in the same position as you, it can lead to rejection – they don’t want to be reminded of the path they’re not taking,’ she says. Alex Leigh, 26, from Essex, who’s mum to Lola, two, blames this for her own friendship bust-up. ‘It seemed my girlfriend was irritated I couldn’t go out and get drunk with her, but part of it was because she was at a different life stage and felt I was leaving her behind,’ she says.
Find your real friends
But there are upsides to a social reshuffle, as it’s a chance to identify your real friends – the ones who’ll be there even when you’re not feeling like a wild night out. If someone can’t cope with quieter times together while you take care of your growing bump, you can safely file them in the fair-weather category. ‘There may not be sufficient depth to carry the relationship through to the next stage,’ says Sheri. ‘With a real friend, the fact you’re in a different place won’t be an obstacle.’
But, rather than being hurt, try to see things from their perspective. If your friends aren’t parents, it’ll be hard for them to understand. ‘Don’t take their silence the wrong way. They may not be rejecting you – they might be assuming that you’re busy coming to terms with parenthood,’ says Sheri.
When Samantha White, 31, from London, who’s mum to Eve, six months, was pregnant, she acknowledged some of her friends were only there for the good times. ‘I’d known two friends for years, but we’d mostly just partied together,’ she says. ‘They didn’t congratulate me and I haven’t seen them since the birth. But it’s fine. When I’m back ordering margaritas, I’m sure they’ll pop up again.’
For many of us, meeting a whole new group of women also having babies at, say, antenatal classes is a pregnancy highlight. In a recent study, nearly half of new mums said establishing a ‘circle of trust’ was more important when you’ve had a baby, and six in 10 felt more in tune with other mums going through the same experiences, rather than child-free mates. If friends are distant, they could be tuning into this. ‘They may be worrying that they’ll be binned for your new-mum buddies so, by creating space, they’re protecting themselves,’ says Sheri.
Know your network
Having said that, you’ll need your oldest friends, too. The next few years may alter your priorities, but you’ll still want them on the other side of motherhood. ‘You go through a great deal of change, emotionally and physically, during pregnancy,’ says midwife Tracy Thomas. ‘Maintaining old friendships will allow you to keep hold of your sense of identity.’
It’s also partly your responsibility to keep the diary dates coming. ‘Most people are far too occupied planning their own lives to worry about yours,’ says life coach Annie Fontaine. Think about how to spend time with friends without them having to take up yoga or a sparkling water habit. Arrange daytime activities – lunches, walks in the park and spa trips – that don’t revolve around alcohol. Also, tell your social circle that you want to spend time with them, and you’re still the same person.
For me, it’s my closest friends who still pop round, even when I’ve been at my least hospitable and most hormotional. And having accepted that some other people are fading from my life, I know I’ll be fine. What matters is that the good mates stick with you through thick and thin.
Tell us how pregnancy affected your social life – and what you did to avoid being bump dumped – in the comments box below.