Are you the only one of your friends who is pregnant or has experienced a pregnancy? Although you may have to make some life adjustments during your pregnancy, you can still maintain a vibrant social life, feel the companionship and support of friends, and participate in group activities, classes, or clubs.
If you’re not sure how pregnancy could affect your friendships, review this guide to social situations as a young or teen birthmother choosing adoption.
Why Friends Are Important for Birth Mothers
Research from Baylor University found that giving up a child for adoption is often an isolating experience for the birth mother. Friends can provide the emotional support that you need during your pregnancy and after you give birth. But this doesn’t mean it’s always easy to maintain current friendships or even allow those who are nearest and dearest to you into your decision-making process.
Friends and social activities provide a sense of belonging that you might need right now. Not only can friends become a shoulder to cry on, but they can also provide you with a feeling of normalcy or consistency. While you do need to focus on the physical and emotional aspects of your pregnancy and adoption, you also need to take care of yourself as a whole person. Social ties provide you with the type of self-care that you shouldn’t have to skip out on or give up while you’re pregnant.
What To Do If Some of Your Friends Don’t Understand Your Choices
You can’t expect every friend to agree with every decision you make. This includes decisions about your pregnancy and other areas of your life. You’re an individual—and so are your friends.
If a friend or two don’t agree with your choice to pursue adoption or you’re feeling judged by them, you may need to permanently cut ties. While this can hurt and make you feel isolated, it can also be freeing and allow you to focus on yourself and the friends who care about and support you. Negative or toxic friendships won’t provide the emotional support or interactions you need during your pregnancy and after childbirth.
How You Can Make New Friends as a Young Birthmother
Should you make new friends during your pregnancy? The answer to this question depends on you, your personality, and your social or emotional needs. It’s perfectly acceptable to pursue new friendships during pregnancy. If you don’t feel comfortable around your non-pregnant friends, if your friends judge your decisions, or if you just don’t feel that they have the time for you or support you enough, you can seek out new friendships.
There is no single “best” place to make new friends during pregnancy. A support group for expectant birth mothers is one place to start. While you may feel more supported or more comfortable with someone who is going through a similar situation, you don’t have to make only pregnant friends.
If you don’t already belong to clubs at school or don’t engage in non-academic activities, now is the time to consider branching out. Even though you have a lot going on in your life during the next few months, you can find companionship and support in these types of non-pregnancy-related activities.
How You Can Maintain Your Friendships as a Young Birthmother
Pregnancy can change the types of social situations you engage in. Fatigue may make it impossible to hang out with friends all night long, you may feel physically uncomfortable during some types of activities, and you may need to avoid certain situations (such as parties) for health-related reasons.
To maintain relationships with friends who truly support you and will continue to do so:
- Communicate openly. Let your friends know what you need right now. Don’t assume your non-pregnant friends already know how to support you. You may need to take the first steps and communicate how you’re feeling.
- Don’t isolate yourself. It’s tempting to stay home and avoid social situations. But this won’t help you to maintain positive friendships. Enjoy this time and visit a friend at their home, invite friends to your house, or go out for a healthy meal.
- Create new routines. Are the activities you used to enjoy not pregnancy-friendly? Instead of removing friends from your life, remove the activities. Find new routines and activities to try, and invite your friends to join you when doing those activities.
You don’t need to wait until after you give birth to enjoy social situations. But you may need to put some activities on hold for a few months or a few trimesters. If morning sickness makes it difficult to eat your formerly favorite foods, skip eating out with the girls and ask your friends to come over for dinner instead. If you tire easily, swap a night-time activity for an afternoon adventure.
Do you want to learn more about adoptions and what support is available for expecting birth mothers? Contact Arizona Adoption Help for more information on the adoption process and pregnancy-related services.