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A few weeks ago I was contacted by one of our readers. She was explaining to me how every article that she reads about pregnancy and birth these days is about an expecting mom and her partner; how to have great sex, how to keep the romance alive, what he should pack in his Daddy bag, how he can be most supportive and helpful, etc. But what about the women that DON’T have a loving and encouraging partner in their lives? What about the mother’s that are separating or going through a divorce while pregnant? She herself is experiencing those very things… My heart immediately went out to her and every single woman that is currently going through this. She asked if I could blog about a few topics that might help and I immediately said YES! So this blog post is for you, LB. I hope this post helps and is also helpful to our other readers who are currently going through pregnancy and birth without a partner.
There are so many reasons why a new mom could be going through pregnancy and birth without a partner. Some moms know from the very beginning that they will be walking this path alone; others’ circumstances change during their pregnancy that result in their partner being absent. (Maybe the father needs to travel frequently for work, maybe he has passed away, maybe he’s deployed, or maybe you are parting ways.) If you are going through any of these, I want you to know that you don’t have to go through this alone. I’ve supported several women that have gone through pregnancy and birth without a partner and you need to know that it’s normal to feel worried some days and confident other days — pregnancy has ups and downs. But you can do it! Here are some tips that I’ve learned after supporting single moms and I hope that these tips will help you feel more confident throughout your pregnancy and during your birth.
1. Start Building Your Village
The number one thing that I believe every expecting woman should do is to find and surround themselves with supportive and positive people. This especially includes women who don’t have a partner or a supportive partner. You want to start “building your village”. We all need a strong village around us to help and encourage us throughout pregnancy and motherhood. Your “village” could consist of friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, women in support groups, people from your church (or a church – if you don’t attend one), or even strangers online. They need to be people that you can depend on to help and support you. Your village will be the people that you can turn to for reassurance and sympathy after a tough day, and the people to share your hopes and dreams with for the future.
During your pregnancy:
- It’s nice to have a group of friends or family members that can rotate and accompany you to your prenatal checkups and attend classes with you (like childbirth classes, newborn care classes and breastfeeding classes).
- You should also have someone on-call to drive you to the hospital when you are in labor. That same person or a different person can drive you home. After having a baby, it’s best to avoid driving for a little bit. You need to heal and recover.
At home with baby:
You will also want to have some of those supportive people (your village) to help you once you come home from the hospital. Having a newborn is extremely exhausting and demanding. Majority of the time you will be too tired to cook regularly for yourself, do laundry, clean the dishes, etc. Having someone set up a care calendar for you or a meal train are two of the best things they can do! Some women also hire a postpartum doula to help them through those difficult first days and/or nights when things get overwhelming. Taking care of a baby is a 24/7 job.
2. Make Some Single Mom Friends
Everyone wants to feel accepted and be around people who understand and support them. This is why it’s important to find other women who are going through the same journey as you. Single moms will be able to relate to your everyday life; they can share the ups and downs of single parenting, and they can give you tips and recommendations of what has worked for them and their babies and what hasn’t.
How do you meet these women and make new friends? The best way is to get out there! I recommend signing up for different classes and meet-up groups. Prenatal workouts are great, breastfeeding support groups, childbirth classes, different forums online, you name it. There are also lots of social media groups for single parents that you might find helpful. These are all great ways to meet other women and make new friends.
3. Learn How to Ask for Help and Accept Help
If you’re like me, it’s hard to ask for help…and accept help. We think we can do it all, but that’s not realistic. When you’re pregnant or when you have a newborn, you shouldn’t have to do it all on your own. You don’t need to prove anything to anyone! Learn to ask for help since your loved ones might not offer. It’s not that they don’t want to help, they just don’t know how. Always remember this phrase:
“You cannot pour from an empty cup. You must take care of yourself first to be able to help or give to others — this includes your baby.”
4. Make It Work at Work
Pregnancy is hard work. There are times when you might feel nauseous, achy, and completely worn out. Because of this, it can sometimes be a struggle to keep up with all the demands at your job. I recommend talking to your employer and being open about what you are going through. If you’re having a tough time, explain that you are struggling and suggest ways that your employer could help you maintain your normal workload. Maybe you can work from home, maybe you can come in at an earlier time to get out earlier or come in later and stay late (if mornings are the times you don’t feel well). Find what works best for you and your work. Just don’t be afraid to talk to your employer and ask him or her for flexibility. Most employers want you to continue doing your best work and are more than willing to be flexible to help you feel better and help you continue to do your job. (Note: Also being open with your co-workers is a great idea because some of them may be able to help.)
5. Find Financial Help
There are many different kinds of aid packages and government grants for single mothers in the U.S. There are government grants that help you with child care, medical treatments, assistance paying your rent or even buying a house, and even grants that can help you go back to high school or college. The U.S. government will also help you with expenses such as insurance, utility allowance, normal maintenance costs, and repairs and replacements. Whether you think you need the money or not, it’s a good idea to see what is available for you if you ever do need extra financial support. For more information, you can ask your healthcare provider for advice on where to find out about the financial support available to you.
6. Have A Birth Partner
In my opinion, every laboring woman should have a birth partner by her side. Whether that’s her actual partner, her mother, her sister, or a friend, having someone that cares about you in your birthing room at your most vulnerable time, the day you become a mother, is the most beneficial thing you can choose to have with you. They can provide that emotional support that no one else can.
Also, I recommend letting the hospital or birth center and their staff know your situation (if you feel comfortable) so that they can be extra supportive. You should also tell them if there is anyone that you don’t want in the room with you during your labor and delivery.
7. Hire A Doula
This! If you are able to have a doula, I highly recommend hiring one. Doulas are trained birth professionals who offer physical, emotional and informational support to women during their pregnancy, labor and birth. Your doula will be able to guide you throughout your pregnancy, during your labor and support you through pushing and giving birth. They advocate for you and protect your birth experience so that you can have the best outcome and experience possible. She can help you by massaging your lower back, help you with your breathing, help you change positions that are best for you and your baby, bring you ice chips or water and so much more. Without a parter, a doula (in my opinion) is a necessity. They are your roadmap to labor and birth. Even with a birth partner there, that person needs help supporting you as well — a birth doula can do that. She’s there to fully support the mother and help her have the best labor and birth experience possible.
If a doula is out of your budget, you can hire a recently trained doula that might be able to assist you for free (so that she can gain more experience) or for a very low fee.
8. Be Positive
Going through pregnancy and birth without a partner can be very difficult, but it’s important to remind yourself of the positives. Here are a few things to remind yourself:
- You will get twice the amount of hugs and kisses.
- You will be your baby’s whole world and #1 person.
- You won’t need to compromise on baby names – the name you love and choose is the name he or she gets.
- You’ll get to choose how to raise your child and and not have to compromise on parenting styles.
- You will teach your baby how to be strong and independent.
9. Celebrate This Time and Your Baby
This is still an incredible time in your life and it should be celebrated. If you’re wanting to lift your spirits, here are some ideas:
- Have a baby shower
- Have a blessingway
- Get a prenatal massage
- Have maternity photos taken
- Get a belly cast to remember your baby bump
Most of all, try to focus on all of the happiness and love that your baby will bring. It’s important to remember everything that you are able to give your child and not thunk of the things that you believe he or she is missing. A baby doesn’t need your absent partner; if he or she is being welcomed by you and your loving and supportive “village” that’s all he/she needs.
10. Know That You Can Do This!
Being pregnant without a partner can cause any woman to feel scared and worried, but what every woman needs to understand is that every single expecting mom feels scared at some point during their pregnancy. Your life is about to change forever. You are about to become a mother and nothing will ever be the same again. That’s scary for anyone to digest. It’s normal to feel worried. However, it is important to stay positive and think of the good. You are about to bring life into the world. This little human is a part of you… forever. You will be an amazing mother, and you will be an incredible role model for your child. Just because you don’t have a partner doesn’t mean that you are less of a parent or that you won’t be able to offer him or her a happy and fulfilling life. You’ve got this, mama. Believe in yourself and know that you can do this, with the help of your village.
“Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.” – Unknown