Pregnancy is both an exciting and scary time for most new mums, and if you’re entering into parenthood as a single mum it can feel even more daunting and overwhelming. Whether you chose to go it alone, have split from your partner or found yourself unexpectedly in this situation, here are some useful tips and advice to help you navigate the path ahead. You got this, mama!
1. Seek out support
Support doesn’t have to come in the form of a partner, it can be someone else in your life like a close friend or family member. If you don’t have anyone in your life that you can turn to, ask your doctor if there are any support groups in your local area, or look for online support groups and connect with other mums-to-be on there who might be in a similar situation. You might also want to think about hiring a Doula who is a non-medical person who can assist you in the lead-up to the birth, will be there with you during the birth as your support person and also after the birth.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
This is one of the most important things for any mum, but especially single mums. You cannot go it completely alone and you need to accept that and not be afraid to ask. But at the same time know people’s limits and respect their own lives and commitments, and come up with backup plans.
If someone was going to come over and bring your groceries and they can’t make it, or someone was going to watch the baby while you went to an appointment, create an emergency go-to list of paid professionals you trust that can help. A local babysitter or nanny, Airtasker for odd jobs around the house or online delivery for your groceries – get savvy so when things come up you have a backup plan.
3. Get financial support
If the father is in the picture then you may be able to receive child support, and you may also be eligible for single parent support from the government. Get online and do some research to find out exactly what you are able to receive. If you are struggling to get answers or the father is refusing to pay you might think about seeking out legal advice.
4. Speak to work
You may or may choose not to disclose your personal situation to your employer, which is completely fine, but the reality is you’re going to have some time off to have the baby. Find out if your workplace offers paid maternity leave so you can work out how much time you can afford to take off work, and then think about how you are going to manage your job and look after the child when you’re ready to return to work. Find out your options for going part-time or working flexible hours as well as daycare options and costs in your area.
5. Connect with other mums after the birth
There’s hardly another time in your adult life where making new friends is as easy as when you’re a mum – you have suddenly gone through the life-changing event of having a baby and no one knows what you are going through like another mum. There’s no easier way to break the ice than sharing birth experiences and bonding over the utter chaos of life with a newborn.
Mother’s groups can get a bad wrap but they can also have the potential to forge life-long friendships, so make sure you sign up for a mother’s group in your area, and even if it’s the last thing you feel like doing after a sleepless night make sure you drag yourself out of the house to attend!
If you don’t bond with anyone in your group, speak to the organisers and see if there is another one you can try or look online for any others in your area. There are also apps for meeting like-minded mums these days so the options are there you just need to get yourself out there. Or hit up a local park or coffee shop, there will no doubt be another mum staring blankly ahead of her who is just as sleep-deprived and as desperate for adult conversation as you are.
6. Look after yourself
Of course, we do mean physically, so by watching your diet and that you’re getting enough exercise as well as rest, but also make sure you look after yourself emotionally. Without a partner there for the day-to-day, make sure you are talking through how you are feeling with either your support person, a friend or perhaps a medical professional that can help you cope emotionally with all the changes happening to both your body and your life. Don’t feel like you are alone, there is so much support out there.
7. Don’t shy away from celebrating your pregnancy
Be proud of what your body is doing and this monumental moment in your life. Share the news proudly and celebrate the milestones – throw a baby shower, take yourself on a relaxing babymoon (or take a friend along for a girls weekend!) don’t let anything stop you from celebrating this special time in your life.
8. Stay positive and know you can do it
Did we mention you got this mama? Because you do! Sure it will be tough and your life is about to change dramatically – but it will be so worth it and you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve. Your bond will likely be that much more strong with your baby because it’s just the two of you, and know that your son or daughter will grow up with a strong, independent woman as its role model, which is a truly wonderful thing!