As a mother, you have to find a balance between your child's needs and your own. For some mothers, the right choice is to stay at home full-time to look after their baby; for others, it means going back to work. And that's fine. There is no evidence that leaving babies in loving hands with a childminder, or at a well-run nursery where there are skilled and loving attendants, does babies any harm. See: 'Returning to work/feelings on going back to work.'
If you miss the 'old life', here are some ideas:
• Try and keep in contact with old friends, even if it's only chatting to them on the telephone.
• Keep up your old interests as far as possible, be they aerobics or sport.
• Even though it's often a great effort to go out with a small baby, make the effort! You'll feel much better for getting out of the house.
• Organise several babysitters so that if one can't come on the night you want, another will hopefully be free.
• Don't forget you had a relationship with your partner before the baby came along. So look after that relationship and make time to be together, share cuddles and talk.
• Give yourself a cuddle by cuddling your baby, while you read a magazine or watch your favourite TV soap.
"To begin with, my baby took all my time and energy. I just felt overwhelmed by the responsibility. I felt I couldn't trust anyone else to look after her. She's six months old now and I've changed my mind. She needs time with other people if she's going to develop and I have to have some time for me if I'm going to have an identity apart from her."