Big City Syndrome: Postpartum relocation to the suburbs

The lives of professional women can change drastically with pregnancy – including a sudden shift from career-focused city life to wanting to create a new domestic bliss in the ‘burbs. Die-hard New Yorkers believe that when you leave Manhattan you fall off the ends of the earth – and your new postpartum life can feel like a major adjustment on many different levels when it includes a move.

Living in a big city, working to build your career, going out with friends and enjoying life as a young professional are normal activities during early adulthood. Pregnancy can change this significantly. Your charming city apartment can start to look cramped when you’re expecting, and good schools, fresh air, and being closer to parents and family members may suddenly become new priorities.

While the suburbs can have clear benefits for families, a new baby, a new home and facing a longer commute to work can all seem very overwhelming. If you decide to leave a big city for something a little quieter, there are a few points to think about as you plan your move.

This is a big shift from your familiar professional life - give yourself time to adjust. It takes a lot of patience to set up a new home while adapting to being a new mother with a newborn to take care of. For the first six weeks, try giving the physical work a rest and remember to take care of yourself, while spending time getting to know your baby. You will have plenty of time to work on the home later; it doesn’t have to be done all at once, despite the pressures we put on ourselves. You can still keep in touch with your old friends from the city, but it may be a bit more challenging now. Schedules may not permit getting together, or they may not understand that you have new responsibilities and may not be able to partake in the same activities you used to. Engage them in your new lifestyle, have them out for dinner and let them be somewhat involved in your baby’s life.

 A baby is a wonderful gateway to making new friends. Once your newborn is a few months old you can join new mom groups, classes, reading time at the library or local bookstore, even going for a stroll in the park can be an opportunity to meet new people with common interests. Fitness programs like Fit4Mom is a great way to get in some exercise while meeting other new moms or dads. Take advantage of having relatives close by, and enlist some babysitters so that you and your partner can enjoy an evening out, or maybe even get together with some friend in the city. Remember that this is a huge adjustment for all of you, give yourself time and remember why you chose to make these changes in your lives. You will adapt, and it will be wonderful.

  1. Don’t rush the unpacking, decorating and/or construction - you have years ahead of you to fix up your home
  2. Sign up for classes geared towards moms and babies, such as fit4mom, Mommy and Me, Gymboree, and story hour.
  3. Take advantage of what the suburbs have to offer, like a car, more space, a yard with a garden, plenty of parks, fresh air, hearing the birds chirping in the morning and the crickets chirping at night.
  4. Remember the reasons you moved and enjoy them. Ask family members for help, with babysitting, meals, etc.
  5. Give yourself plenty of time to adjust to your new life

It's easy to get overwhelmed at times like these, so be easy on yourself, and remember to ask for help along the way. 

Cheryl Zauderer, PhD, CNM, NPP, IBCLChas been a registered nurse since 1985. She is a nurse-midwife, a lactation consultant and a psychiatric nurse practitioner specializing in perinatal mood disorders and other women’s health issues. Dr. Zauderer has authored her first book entitled Maternity Leave: A New Mothers Guide to the First Six Weeks Postpartum, Praeclarus Press. It is a self-help book for new mothers focusing on the first six weeks postpartum. You can follow her with her blog and on her website at: postpartumcare1.com, on twitter, and on facebook.  Dr. Zauderer has also served as a board member for PSI (Postpartum Support International) and has been the Nassau/Suffolk coordinator for PSI since 2009.