Although the stereotypical structure of a family is often portrayed by the media as a 2-parent household with 2.5 kids and a dog, the makeup of today’s families is becoming more and more diverse. More parents are raising children on their own, and even becoming pregnant without the support of a partner.
While this is increasingly common, the prospect of being single and pregnant is still daunting, especially when you have to deal with worries and major decisions alone. However, there are many things you can do to prepare for becoming a single mom while pregnant.
Seeking and accepting help
Reaching out to friends, family, or support organization might help ease the burden of this undertaking a bit, and give you more room to enjoy your pregnancy and new journey to becoming a mother.
Finding a community to talk to is important in battling the feelings of isolation, whether or not you have a partner. Websites such as Meetup.com provide an online way to find local groups that match your needs. Your healthcare practitioners, such as your obstetrician or pediatrician, can also refer you to a local support system.
Surviving pregnancy and birth
Many women who do not have a birth partner like to find a doula or midwife to accompany them during the birthing process. A doula is especially helpful, and can be your advocate during the entire delivery.
Others prefer to have a friend or parent with them during the delivery. It is up to you what you eventually do. Mostly, it is important to plan and contact the appropriate people before the action starts, to make sure your needs are met during the whole process.
Finding information and planning it out
Having access to information and support is empowering, and better equips you to protect and support yourself and your child(ren). You may also feel less helpless when you know how to tackle a specific situation, even if you experience it alone.
The National Council of Single Mothers and their Children Incorporated (NCSMC) is an Australian organization that provides many resources for single mothers, including assistance to find financial aid, childcare, and other important necessities.
You may also find it helpful to join the ongoing dialogue on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and the NCSMC blog to connect with other mothers in the same situation.
Many single moms have found that planning everything to the detail in advance has helped them prepare for raising a child on their own. Taking care of the logistics may not be your cup of tea, but it does provide you with a bit more control over the often unpredictable experience of having a child.
Getting practical help
While not the case for all single mothers, many often worry about the potential financial hardships associated with raising a child on their own. In fact, there are many federal and local resources that may help ease these concerns.
There are several U.S. government initiatives for supporting single women and their families. Although eligibility for these programs differ depending on your income and circumstances, many organizations offer different kinds of support programs that are worth looking into. Here are just a few.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC) provides grants for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.
The Administration for Children and Families funds organizations to provide family assistance (welfare), child support, child care, Head Start, child welfare, and other programs relating to children and families. It might be beneficial to find out about obtaining child support unique to your situation.
The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program provides temporary financial assistance for pregnant women and families with one or more dependent children. This money is often used to help pay for food, shelter, utilities, and expenses other than medical.
In the U.S., childcare subsidies are provided through a federal program called the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF). Consult the latest CCDF information to find out more about subsidies that is tailored to your unique situation.
There are many local groups that offer resources for single mothers, such as after-school programs, as well as programs that provide food and resources. Community support programs are also a good way to find support locally.
Beating the blues
Remember, no matter what the circumstance, all pregnant women feel highs and lows during pregnancy, and you are not alone. These feelings will be magnified if you feel all alone or that you have no support.
However, many single and pregnant women report that the loneliness they felt during early pregnancy was replaced by the wonderful realization that someone is in there after feeling the baby’s movements. As most single mothers will tell you, “Single Mom” is a sacred badge, and growing into that role is a very unique journey.