Going through Pregnancy as a Single Parent

While pregnancy is one of the most exciting experiences a woman can experience, hormones are running riot and it can be an emotional time for many. 

So imagine going through pregnancy as a single parent. 

“Moving through pregnancy alone can be extremely frightening,” says psychotherapist Dr Karen Phillip. 

“Some may feel rejected and discarded causing emotional stress at a time support is needed.

Pregnancy involves considerable changes to a woman’s emotions, body and lifestyle. 

With family, friends and midwife support, these changes can proceed smoothly. If a separation occurs or there is no partner to share these with then counselling can also benefit the mother-to-be. 

Seeking support from other women who have gone through a pregnancy and motherhood whilst single may help you learn from their experiences. 

To prepare, Dr Phillips suggests learning all you can about the impending birth. 

Talk to other women who have gone through a birth, read and watch educational programs to prepare yourself as much as possible to know what to expect.

Select a birth partner to support you during labour – this can be a family member or close friend. Ensuring this person is available when needed and present at birth preparation classes.

Fear of the unknown is normal. 

“When the new mum looks at and holds her baby, the world just stops,” says Dr Phillip. 

No one else matters other than you and your baby.  Providing the mother-to-be has been able to set up the home to accommodate baby comfortably much of the stress is removed.

But once home reality enters as baby’s needs and demands escalate. As sleep deprivation occurs these feelings do change. While the love and devotion for your baby remains, it can become challenging to be the best you want to be if you struggle with lack of sleep issues. 

This along with changing hormone emotions can be a major struggle.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help 

If baby is struggling to settle or sleep, speak to the midwife or baby health clinic, there is considerable support provided. 

Call on family to allow you to have a break one night a week to sleep if possible, this can help you clear your mind and reinvigorate you for the next challenging week to come.

If you are young or your friends do not have children, you can feel ostracised.

It is essential to attend new mothers’ group then playgroup, so you can socialise and mix with other mums going through similar feelings, challengers and experiences.

There can be shocking experiences of judgement for mothers who are single while these critical individuals have no knowledge of your circumstances. 

“While it may sting, feel sorry for their uneducated bias.”

Dr Phillips recommends reminding yourself of who you are, feel confident in your decisions and reasons you have made them, believe in yourself as a good mother raising a happy, loved and healthy baby. 

Focus on your role and achievements as these critical individuals have no idea how amazing you are as a mum.

“While we listen more to family and friends it does not mean they are intelligent, educated or understanding.  

“If they are supportive, wonderful, if, however, some are critical, discuss the reasons, speak to them to educate them better and if they remain stuck simply accept and ignore their inanity.”

Practical challenges include exhaustion, financial stress, and lack of sharing responsibilities. 

Those alone can sometimes feel ignored or overlooked yet this is often because other people are so busy they forget about your situation as they concentrate on their own life. 

This is the time to start making choices to support yourself. Ensure you remain connected to the mother’s group and as baby develops join other groups or meet-up groups to become involved in something you enjoy. 

“You need to remain a person, a woman, instead of just a mother. We do not want to lose our identity.”

“It is tough becoming a mother at any time, it is gruelling and exhausting. Doing this alone is extremely arduous. 

“Any single mother deserves a medal.”

If you are in need of help in Australia  Single Mother Crisis Support Directory has a list of options to contact.

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