pregnant woman feeling alone, looking out the window

Feeling Alone During Pregnancy: How to Get More Support

By Kerry Weiss
Reviewed by Susan Ko, Ph.D.
June 12, 2024

Everyone feels lonely from time to time. On average, 24% of people worldwide feel fairly or very lonely, and feeling alone during pregnancy (and postpartum) is even more common. Research suggests that up to 42% of pregnant people experience loneliness.

You don’t have to feel alone during pregnancy. There are ways you can find support, which research suggests can benefit improve your mental, emotional, and physical well‑being. That’s good for you and your future baby.

Understanding and addressing what’s driving your loneliness can help you start feeling more connected and supported throughout your pregnancy. Here’s how.

Why Is Pregnancy Loneliness Common?

Pregnancy tends to be a time of many changes that may leave people feeling lonely.

“For a lot of women, [pregnancy is] a huge change, not only in their bodies, but also in their mentality and feeling of responsibility now that they are growing another human life,” says Michelle DiBlasi, D.O., chief of inpatient psychiatry at Tufts Medical Center in Boston.

These changes may create a physical or emotional distance between you and others. Here are a few examples.

Symptoms and Lifestyle Changes Can Be Isolating

Feeling unwell can be isolating, especially during pregnancy where feelings like nausea, fatigue, and back pain can persist for months on end. You may find yourself staying home more and making fewer social plans.

The first trimester, especially, was so lonely because I didn’t feel like I could tell everyone what I was going through. I was sick and miserable but had to function every day. I felt fake and distant from coworkers and friends.

Pregnancy also requires making lifestyle changes—like limiting caffeine, giving up alcohol, avoiding certain foods, and skipping certain physical activities, like those where you risk falling.

“This can alter how you interact with others in your life and make you feel even more lonely,” DiBlasi says.

“I was the first one in my friend group who got pregnant,” shares Carrie Smith*, 38, mom of two. She felt excluded from social plans and events, since they weren't all pregnancy-friendly.

My friends went about their lives, enjoying happy hours, planning vacations—and they’d still extend the invite, but for me, it just wasn’t the same since I couldn’t participate fully.

You May Struggle with Your Identity

Many pregnant people feel their sense of self changing. “The identity shift that may coincide with this transition into motherhood can trigger feelings of a loss of identity,” says Erika Kelley, Ph.D., clinical psychologist in the department of obstetrics and gynecology, behavioral medicine division at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center in Ohio.

Danielle Connors, 34, a mother of two, says her change in sense of self caused mixed feelings that she couldn’t confide in anyone about.

I felt like I was constantly putting on a happy face and pretending I was so lucky to be pregnant when people asked me about it,

Stigma Can Make It Difficult to Express Your True Emotions

Pregnancy is often painted as a beautiful, joyful experience, but it can be more complex than that.

“Women are often expected to only be happy and love every moment of pregnancy or motherhood,” Kelley says. “So when that doesn’t happen, women are vulnerable to feelings of shame and disconnect from society.”

Your Relationship May Be Changing

Pregnancy and parenthood can also impact your relationship with your partner, if you have one.

“After becoming pregnant and then giving birth, it comes naturally to take your love and attention and put it towards your [pregnancy and] baby,” DiBlasi says. That can put distance between you and your partner if it causes anger, frustration, or resentment.

A disconnect or instability in your relationship can feel disappointing or hurtful, especially if you expect to be going through pregnancy with a partner.

“Women may also feel isolated or lonely in pregnancy due to the pressure they feel in physically caring for the pregnancy,” Kelley says. You may feel more alone if your partner doesn’t meet your new or changing needs.

I felt completely alone in my relationship with my spouse because so much was changing. We planned for this baby, but I was still afraid of  the changes.

Ways to Deal with Loneliness During Pregnancy and Parenthood

There are a few ways you can handle or prevent loneliness during pregnancy and into parenthood.

Do Your Best to Keep in Touch

Try to keep in touch with friends, family, and those you value as best you can. That means making regular plans to spend quality time together, scheduling and keeping phone call dates, and texting each other.

You may need to make a few changes to your activities now that you’re pregnant, so talk to your loved ones about what works for you and what doesn’t.

Find Ways to Involve Others in the Pregnancy

You’ve likely made a lot of changes and taken on new responsibilities. Make sure others are sharing the load so you feel supported.

“If you have a partner or intended co-parent, ask them to share some of the same responsibilities, such as abstaining from alcohol or packing the hospital bag,” Kelley says.

Talk to Someone Who You Know Will Listen

It’s okay to ask for comfort when you’re feeling lonely. Tell a friend or loved one that you just want someone to listen and understand, Kelley suggests.

Sometimes just getting things off your chest makes you feel heard and validated and in turn, so much less alone.

Some people may offer unhelpful feedback, so be sure you find the right person to lend a listening ear. Choose someone you feel comfortable confiding in.

Join a Support Group or Class

“It can be helpful to connect with people who have some understanding of what you might be going through,” DiBlasi says.

You can look for a local pregnancy or parenting support group in your area. “Talking to a healthcare provider about local resources including support groups or informational groups, such as childbirth or breastfeeding classes, can be helpful,” says Kelley.

These classes are also good places to meet others and help you feel like part of a community. You can also talk to other pregnant people online in places like the Twill Care community.

Ask for Help in Specific Ways

It’s okay to ask for help. When you do, be specific about your needs, Kelley advises. Ask others to check in on you often if you feel you need it. Or you can ask for help doing chores or errands you now find too exhausting.

This can be helpful if you’re feeling disconnected from a partner, too. If you’re feeling like they aren’t involved in the pregnancy, tell them specific ways they can help that would be meaningful to you. They may not know exactly what you need or what is making you feel unsupported, so opening that dialogue may help.

When It’s More Than Loneliness: Prenatal Depression

Often loneliness is just a temporary feeling. But if it lingers, or comes with other negative feelings and emotions, it could be a sign of a mental health concern. Studies suggest that loneliness can contribute to mental health issues like prenatal depression and postpartum depression.

“Loneliness can exacerbate feelings of lack of belonging, can contribute to further social withdrawal, and can worsen depression symptoms,” Kelley says.

So be watchful for some signs of depression, which include:

  • Persistent sadness, anxiousness, or emptiness
  • Fatigue or low energy
  • Guilt
  • Helplessness or worthlessness
  • Hopelessness or pessimism
  • Irritability, frustration, or restlessness
  • Lack of concentration, memory, or decision-making
  • Loss of interest in regular activities
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Changes in appetite, or unplanned weight changes
  • Physical aches, pains, or digestive issues without another known cause
  • Thoughts of hurting yourself or your unborn baby, thoughts of death, or suicide attempts

If you start to feel unlike yourself or don’t feel like you can function in the way that you’re used to, reach out to your doctor or a mental health professional. “Depression is treatable,” DiBlasi says.

Danielle says she sought mental health support through counseling and medication with her second pregnancy. And in her experience, “It makes a world of difference.”

Feeling Alone During Pregnancy: Quotes from Others Who’ve Been There

Here’s what others have said about feeling alone and unsupported during pregnancy.

People commenting on my bump, feeling baby kick, and not physically feeling like myself made me feel incredibly isolated and lonely [while pregnant]. I didn’t know who to talk to about it besides my husband.

When I got pregnant with my oldest and told my best friend the news, her initial response was to cry about losing me as her best friend. Even though she moved on to express happiness for me, it was still a gut punch, and an unwanted reminder about how much my life was going to change.

"I felt like I was screaming inside for emotional and physical support in ways I couldn’t describe, yet on the outside my responses were as if I was totally fine when I absolutely was not. I wanted to be heard, but couldn’t give the voice a sound. I wanted to feel like a beautiful mom and I didn’t.

When I opened up to my mentor (who has older kids of her own) about feeling lonely [while pregnant], she told me it would be fine, and I'd meet my mom friends once the baby entered elementary school—which seemed like ages away. Even though she meant well, it was not reassuring at all.

The darkest part was being completely alone emotionally. Having nobody who listens or even pretends to understand. Everyone says ‘it’s just the hormones’ but it’s not, and I wish people would stop brushing it off.

I felt like no one really understood me even though millions of women have done this exact thing.
*This mom used a pseudonym so she could share her story anonymously.