If you're pregnant and, for whatever reason, you're not in a relationship with the baby's father, you need to start thinking of your future as a single Mom. Whether your pregnancy was planned or not, the challenges ahead will be numerous and you need to be prepared, not only for life as a lone parent in the long-term, but also for the pregnancy itself. No matter how confident and determined you may be, you are probably going to have days when you feel the task you've taken on is just too big - that's why it's so important to know where you can find support. Try to remember that, however you feel about your pregnancy, you've decided to continue with it, which means you have some appreciation for the amazing adventure you've chosen to start out on. Be empowered - you have the freedom to make your own decisions. Your actions now will help determine the quality of life that you and your baby will have together.
Where To Find Support
A sensible first step is to ask your health care provider where you can find support groups for single mothers and pregnant women in your local area. Programs such as the Food and Nutrition Service's WIC scheme provide aid to pregnant women and new mothers to help them feed their children. There are also state-funded health care options such as Medicaid. Women's groups, charities and pro-life organizations are often ready to provide not just emotional support, but also practical assistance in terms of diapers, baby clothes, formula and other equipment to help you care for your baby after the birth. If you are feeling overwhelmed and a bit depressed, your health care provider can also advise you about counseling to help you get through the challenges ahead. Don't forget that many support groups set up websites - a quick internet search for "single pregnancy" will help you track down people who can help you. Last, but certainly not least, ask friends and family for assistance. Think about what your needs are and be specific when asking for help. A friend might think all you need is a hug and a chat about how you're feeling, but by the time you're eight months gone, perhaps that friend would be more use to you down at the store picking up a few things you need!
Practical Considerations - Before The Birth
During a "conventional" pregnancy, the man usually takes on whatever role his partner requires of him in order to support her. Ideally, he would run errands, attend antenatal classes with her, prepare himself to be with her during labor and have the home ready for mother and baby to return to. This might sound wonderful to a single pregnant woman who doesn't have such luxuries, but remember, even in a traditional relationship, some men are more willing than others to help out! What you need to decide is whether or not you want to try and do these things alone, or perhaps ask a close friend or relative to help you. There's no reason why your mother or sister or friend can't be with you in Lamaze classes or in the labor room if that's what you want.
After The Birth
You also need to plan for after the birth. Will you go straight home or will you stay with someone for a while who can help you and the baby to get settled? If you decide to go home alone with your baby, is there someone who could stock up the refrigerator and make sure you have everything you need for the first few days? Try talking to someone who's just had a baby, either an experienced single mother or one with a partner. Make a list of the all the tasks the single mother finds challenging or, in the case of the partnered-mother, the jobs that her man usually does. This will help you get a realistic picture of all the points you need to cover.
It's also a good idea to look well into the future and investigate things like daycare and health insurance for the baby even before the baby is born. The more you can do before the birth the better, because once you have the baby in tow it'll be harder for you to move around.
You're going to need patience, courage and determination, but you're also going to experience a lot of joy and the miracle of unconditional love for your child. Try sitting down now and making a list of your goals, both short-term and long-term, for you and your baby. When you are having tough days, re-reading the list may help you to stay positive about the future.
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