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J Health Psychol. 2017 Aug 1:1359105317723451. doi: 10.1177/1359105317723451. [Epub ahead of print]

'Lonely within the mother': An exploratory study of first-time mothers' experiences of loneliness.

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University of Bath, UK.


Loneliness is associated with life transitions such as new motherhood, yet there are few studies investigating the issue in this population. Using data from semi-structured interviews and an interpretative phenomenological analysis, this exploratory study sought to understand seven new mothers' experiences of loneliness. Experiences were organised around three themes, reflecting loneliness arising from making unfavourable self-comparisons with perceived mothering 'norms', from reduced social contact and relationships lacking in empathy. Accounts were homogeneous and point to potential solutions to ameliorate loneliness in new mothers; encouraging empathy in new mothers' partners and countering prevalent unrealistic representations of motherhood with more pragmatic accounts.


breastfeeding; health psychology; interpretative phenomenological analysis; loneliness; qualitative methods; women’s health


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