There are lots of reasons why women become single parents. Whether you chose to walk the path of parenthood alone, or have unexpectedly ended up in this situation, you may feel worried about how you will face pregnancy, birth and motherhood without the support of a partner. At other times you may feel confident, empowered, and ready to take on the world as a single parent. Mixed emotions are normal during pregnancy, and you will experience good days and bad.
Pregnancy is a daunting time, but single pregnancy can be that little bit harder to navigate as you deal with worries and major decisions alone. The following tips may help you to survive pregnancy as a single woman:
Single and Pregnant Tip #1: Find Some Support
The one thing that single mothers lack, is the support of a partner. Thats it. It may not sound huge, but it can make pregnancy extra tough for single women. In place of a partner, you will need a support network to help you throughout pregnancy and motherhood. This support network could consist of friends, family and strangers online. You will need people you can turn to for reassurance and sympathy after a tough day, and people to share your hopes and dreams with. Your network should be your own personal dream team – experts in providing emotional and physical support to you as and when necessary.
Single and Pregnant Tip #2: Accept Help
You really don't need to do this all on your own. You don't need to prove anything to anyone. All you need, is for you and your baby to be happy and healthy, and that means you might need to accept help every now and then. If you are suffering with morning sickness, accept your mother's offer of doing your laundry. If your back aches in your third trimester, accept all offers of hoovering and other high intensity household duties. There is no such thing as ‘SuperMum’. You need to take care of yourself first, in order to take care of your baby. The cleaning can wait.
Single and Pregnant Tip #3: Talk To The Experts
If you are worried about how you will cope as a single mother, speak to some experts. Who are the experts in single parenting? Why, single parents, of course. Speak to friends and family members who have experienced single pregnancy, and looking after a newborn as a single mother. Ask for survival tips and life hacks that might help you through those months. The best way to prepare yourself for single motherhood, is to set realistic expectations, so ask people to tell you the truth about what it entails. You'll probably discover there are an overwhelming number of positives to raising a child by yourself.
Single and Pregnant Tip #4: Find Some Single Mum Friends
Everybody wants to feel accepted, and to have people understand what they are going through. Make sure you have at least a couple of single mum friends who can relate to your day-to-day life, and share the highs and lows of single parenting with you. The best way to meet other single mums-to-be is to get out there and start socialising. Sign up for antenatal yoga, antenatal aqua aerobics, antenatal lessons, and head along to your local bumps and babies groups, sling meets and breastfeeding groups. You'll meet lots of new people, and may even find a couple of single mum friends who will be able to navigate through single parenthood alongside you. Alternately there are plenty of social media groups for single parents. You might like to start in BellyBelly’s separation, divorce and single parenting forum.
Single and Pregnant Tip #5: Ask For Flexibility
If you are suffering from fatigue, sickness, aches and the many other potential pregnancy symptoms out there, you may find yourself struggling to keep up with your work. Whether you are taking more sick days, going in late after a restless night, or struggling to keep your head out of the toilet all day, your work may be suffering. Ask your employer for flexibility. Explain that you are finding things tough, and suggest ways that your employer could help you to maintain your usual workload. For example, could you work from home some days to cut down your commute? Could you work flexible hours to allow you to start late or finish early when you are in need of a rest? Don't be afraid to ask your employer for flexibility, most employers are more than happy to make changes to help employees in need.
Single and Pregnant Tip #6: Get Financial Help
Single parents are entitled to financial help in Australia. You may be eligible for the single parenting payment. You may also be eligible to receive Child Support from the father of the baby. Whether you feel you need the money or not, it is always worth finding out exactly what you could claim for, and how much this would amount to. Ask your healthcare provider for advice about your financial options and where to find out more about the financial support available to you.
Single and Pregnant Tip #7: Get Legal Help
If there is a father in the picture, you may want to get legal help to ensure your rights are protected. If he wants to be involved, you may find it useful to have a professional help you map out how visitations and finances will work once the baby arrives. If you have an uncomplicated relationship, you may be able to sort this out without the help of lawyers, but if not, it's always worth turning to the experts for advice. If money is an issue, some organisations offer free legal advice, for example Legal Aid in Victoria (Australia).
Single and Pregnant Tip #8: Choose A Birth Partner
A birth partner can offer invaluable support to you during labour. A birth partner doesn't have to be a partner, it could be a friend or family member. Some women choose to ask their mum, sister or best friend to accompany them throughout the delivery. It may seem like a big ask, but most people are honoured to be invited to be part of such a wonderful experience. Once you've decided who you would like to be your birth partner, set out some ground rules. They will need to be available at all times in case you go into labour, and have a clear idea of what you'd like them to do in the delivery room. BellyBelly has a fantastic article full of birth support tips for untrained birth people. You might like to share the following articles with your birth support person:
Single and Pregnant Tip #9: Hire A Doula
Doulas are trained birth professionals who offer support to women during pregnancy, labour and childbirth. Acting as a professional birth partner, your doula will be able to guide you throughout labour and support you through each contraction. Doulas can help you focus on your breathing, massage your back, fetch you water – they're basically the birth partner of your dreams. You can choose to hire a doula to act as your birth partner, or to work alongside your chosen birth partner during the birth. If money is an issue, you could hire a recently qualified doula who may be more willing to negotiate on rates. Student doulas often work for a significantly reduced rate or for free, in return for the experience of attending your birth. Its always polite to offer to cover a student’s out of pocket costs, for example petrol and parking fees. Find out more about doulas here.
Single and Pregnant Tip #10: Focus On The Positives
While it's true that some aspects of pregnancy will be more difficult alone, there are some positives to facing parenthood by yourself. For starters, you won't need to compromise on names. Nobody is going to veto the baby names you love, or force names you hate into the equation. You'll also get to choose how to raise your child – and won't need to compromise on parenting styles. Settle in and enjoy bonding with your bump, and soon-to-be baby.
Single and Pregnant Tip #11: Celebrate Your Pregnancy and Baby Whenever You Can
There are so many ways you can celebrate being pregnant, which may help to lift your spirits. Some ideas include:
- Pregnant belly painting
- Having a baby shower
- Having a blessingway (highly recommended, especially if you’re single)
- Getting a belly cast to remember your bump forever (you can buy a DIY kit or have someone do it for you)
- Getting some professional pregnancy photography
- Getting away from it all. Take a holiday somewhere you’ve always wanted to go, locally or afar. Even when money is tight, you can get free accommodation by housesitting, anywhere in the world, for free. Check out the TrustedHousesitters website. If you need to fly, make sure you get the okay from your midwife or doctor, especially if you plan on taking a break late in the third trimester.
Single and Pregnant Tip #12: Believe In Yourself
All pregnant women feel scared at some point. Your life is about to change, you are about to become a mother – of course that's scary. There's nothing wrong with feeling worried about motherhood. It is, however, important to stay positive. You will be an amazing mother, and you will be a great role model in independence for your child. Having a partner doesn't make you a better parent, and you'll do an amazing job all by yourself. Well, with the help of your friends and family, who will be there to support you at every turn.
It’s not going to be easy, but, its definitely going to be worth it.