"Your newest friendships will be on steroids": 8 things nobody tells you about maternity leave.

There’s a lot of uncertainty that comes with being pregnant. Particularly if it’s your first. What will it be like, being a mum? What will this thing I’ve created look like? Will I get the hang of that whole breastfeeding thing, or will formula be my jam?

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Maternity leave, however, stretches out in front of you with much certainty. Little unknowns. While the identity of your bump is a mystery, what you do know is that you’re about to take 12 or so blissful months off. A year of no work alarms. No early commutes. Time to pick up a hobby or two. Get your body back. Hell, maybe even get into better shape than ever before. 

But here’s the deal. There’s a lot that goes unspoken about maternity leave. 

You’ll become oddly obsessed with The Wiggles’ private lives.

Whether it’s the sleep deprivation, or your mind harking for stimulation beyond dirty nappies, you’re now the lead P.I. on who’s dated who in the red, yellow and blue. After all, knowing which Wiggles have Wiggled is integral context for further viewing. 

The baby’s napping and you’ve got 30 minutes to do something just for you. But somehow, you find your fingers navigating towards Emma Wiggle’s Instagram page… and… wait a second. Is she now dating the band’s banjo player? What happened to Lachy? Weren’t they married? 

You’ll get to know the elderly members of your community a little too well.

It seems that every time you leave your house, pushing a giant pram filled with toys, blankets, nappies, beanies and bananas, you bump into yet another elderly citizen on their morning, midday or afternoon work. There’s Bruce at Number 52. Maureen at 13. And Geoff from the next street over. 

If there’s no other adult you speak to all day, you can count on conversations with your newest mates - the retirees of your local neighbourhood. 

Because who else is around at 2pm on a Tuesday afternoon? Bruce, that’s who. 


Even the most miserable commuters will seem incredibly glamorous.

Ah, commuting to work. It used to be the bane of your existence. You’d race to the train station, sweat dripping down your back, only to fumble and find you’d forgotten your wallet - joining the crowds on the platform in a huff. 

Now that you’re on maternity leave? That huff looks bloody glorious. Standing and waiting for a train on a Monday morning? Divine. You pine at the people with their leather bags, their big headphones, their coffee cups and their “packed it for the train” books. 

From where you’re standing (opposite the station with spit-up on a shirt that may or may not be your pyjamas), there’s nothing that’s ever looked more glamorous. Because, let’s face it, going anywhere other than the supermarket with a screaming baby exudes independence. 

Seeing new releases of baby food will get you stupid excited.

You used to get buzzed on the latest fashion from your favourite brands. But these days, it’s the newest releases of baby food flavours that gets you opening your wallet with unmeasurable speed.

You never thought you’d care about the mush that makes its way into your baby’s mouth (or, more accurately, all over the floor). But something’s changed, and now you’re stockpiling the latest flavour of puree pouches (blueberry, banana and quinoa) into the undercarriage of your pram, excited to head home, rip one of those bad boy’s open and see your baby’s reaction. 

Will he love it? Hate it? Show complete disinterest? You’re in for a wild ride, and it’s only 10am. 

You'll ask acquaintances when they last had sex.

When you spot another mum with a baby of a similar age, your mind begins to wander. When was the last time she had sex? Then, something happens, and you actually end up asking her.  

It starts off in hushed polite tones, over a coffee or two. “Have you… since?” you’ll say, your face aflush. But give it one coffee more, and you’ll be telling them that yes, last night you managed to have sex while the baby was asleep. And that latte? It might just turn into a celebratory wine. 

Your newest friendships will be on steroids.

It took you years to develop your core friendships. The mates who have held your hair out of toilets, stood by your side on your wedding day and talked trash with you day after day, year after year. After all, good friendships take time. Unless you’re a new mum, that is.

Somehow, in a matter of months, you’ve developed tight-knit bonds with women you wouldn’t have known from a bar of soap this time last year. Yet here you are, throwing your head back in laughter with someone who now knows you more than you know yourself. 

Last week you met for the first time in a park, this week you’re drinking wine in your backyard. Next week? You’re planning to align your return-to-work date.


Image: Supplied.

You’ll develop GPS-level knowledge of your neighbourhood.

Before having a kid, you didn’t know much about the local area you lived in. Sure, you knew the main roads and landmarks, but the backstreets were a bit of a blur. These days, you might as well be a local taxi driver. 

You’ve spent so many hours pounding the pavement with the pram that the map in your mind now works at lightning speed - marrying up backstreets with laneways to calculate your fastest route with a screaming baby. You know which street meets which for block after block. For the first time in your life you don’t need Google Maps. 

You’ll have all the time in the world, yet no time at all.

When someone asks what your plans are for the week, you stumble on your words. 

There’s a swimming lesson on Friday, your mum’s coming to help out with the baby on Wednesday, but - to be completely honest - there’s not much in between. Yet somehow, the week passes by in a blur - the long list of chores you need to get done, and activities you’d love to do but won’t, disappearing into dust. 

There are text messages unanswered, bins full of garbage, and your legs haven’t been shaved in god knows how long. You wanted to get one thing done this week… but, what was it? The baby cries before you have a moment to remember. 

Welcome to maternity leave.

Feature image: Supplied.