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Friendships after baby

Long time friends Noor and Sara admit they struggled with this when Sara became a mom to Khaled last year. Despite Noor adoring Sara's new baby, she found it difficult to cope with her friend's shift in interests. “I started avoiding her phone-calls because all she would talk about was the baby. I love her, but I didn’t want to hear how many dirty nappies she’d changed or how tired she was. She was never able to chat anymore because the baby always seemed to need feeding”

Sara in turn, felt resentful at what she saw as her friend’s lack of interest or support in her new life: “We’d always shared everything. I supported her when she went for new jobs or her boyfriend broke up with her. I wanted to talk to her about this.”

It's a common scenario but a new baby doesn't mean the end of a friendship. According to the book Best Friends, there needs to be a shared understanding between both friends that one of them becoming a mother is a shift, and that things will definitely be changing.

Dr Ruthellen Josselson PhD, sociologist and friendship expert, and his co-author Terri Apter have worked with hundreds of girls and women over many years, which gave them insight into the emotionally important relationships that are integral to a girl's self-image. The book Best Friends explores the bonds of friendship between girls and between women, and the sorrows and joys they experience together, from early adolescence and throughout their lives.

Some friendships have a natural expiration date, but if you have a dear friend that you care deeply about, you should make it clear that the relationship is important to you and that you want it to continue.

So, for friendships that have become tired, it means the decision to invest in it is a conscious one. Sometimes you will have to make the tough call that this is the end of it

The key to maintaining these friendships is to set new boundaries:

Communicate openly:

This is vital. Noor and Sara had a long phone-call where they both discussed their concerns and resentments. This meant they were able to set these aside and start over, recognising the shift in circumstances for both. A practical step forward was to agree to keep in regular touch via text or email. This meant Emma was able to reply when baby was asleep or she had some spare time.


They also agreed to schedule a regular catch-up once a month when Sara would be child-free or that Noor would visit at a time that fitted in with Jack's sleep schedule.


They also both agreed to show an interest in each others' lives and listen to what the other person was sharing. For Sara it meant she was able to keep in touch with elements of her pre-baby life. Noor enabled her to keep in contact with a world that she wasn't part of anymore, but she still enjoyed hearing about. For Noor, it meant learning about a whole new world and to continue developing her relationship as an adopted auntie with baby Khaled.

Re-adjusting expectations is the key to maintaining friendships after baby. For Noor and Sara it also meant a new lease on their friendship.

For more on books by Terry Apter and Ruthellen Josselson: - Best Friends

The Myth of Maturity: What Teenagers Need from Parents to Become Adults - TE Apter

Playing Pygmalion: How People Create One Another - Ruthellen Josselson

Loose Relations: Your In-Laws and You