Birth Prep for Solo Pregnant Mamas
Have you been thinking about the day you will give birth? I’m sure it’s mixed with excitement and trepidation. Being a single mom about to give birth isn’t easy. But you are strong and will make it through. Yet, there are some things to consider when you are creating your support team that partnered women may not need to consider.
Giving birth is a momentous and powerful moment in any woman’s life. But it is also an intensely vulnerable moment, which may push you to emotions and pain levels you never expected.
Every person needs to feel supported and held during the birth process and postpartum.
As a single parent, there may be a less obvious person to rely on for things like rides to the hospital, continuous birth support, care of pets, etc. Single parents have to take extra steps to make sure they have the support they need. It’s critical to think ahead and ask for support.
You will not be able to do this alone — so drop your hang-ups about asking and make sure you get the support you need.
Once the birth process begins, you’re not going to be able to coordinate and organize help. So it’s important to anticipate your needs and plan ahead. Since you can’t predict when that will be, we recommend having your plan in place by about 35 weeks of pregnancy.
As a single parent, you have to plan who will drive you to the hospital, who will install the car seat for you, who will take care of your pets, drive you home from the hospital, etc.
If you’d like a google spreadsheet to help keep track of who’s doing what and how all your helpers can reach each other, visit here to download a template.
Here are some points to consider when figuring out what kind of help you need.
Gather Your Birth Team
As a single parent, you may need to take extra care in deciding who will attend your birth. As you may know, your job as a birthing parent is to stay calm and out of your forebrain. Any type of forebrain activity — such as making complex decisions or managing people and personalities in the room — can take you out of the mindset that promotes oxytocin production. What’s more, during labor you may feel incredibly vulnerable. You only want to surround yourself with people that you can completely let go around.
Take some time to envision each of the people you consider inviting to your birth. Can they handle your discomfort? Will they be offended if you ask them to leave?
Also, remember that people have lives and their own emergencies. Your birth could take longer than you expect. Thus, it’s important to line up a few people to be on your birth team. We recommend at least 3 people who know they may be called if necessary.
Hire a Doula
In my opinion, doulas are great for every birthing person. They can explain the jargon, help you advocate for yourself, manage difficult personalities and remain present for your entire birth. And, it’s this last part–that doulas are trained to give continuous birth support that makes having a doula paramount for single parents.
No one can predict when labor will start or how long it will take. Many of support people may not be able to be there for as long as you need or at the particular time of day or night required. Knowing that you have a doula who will be there with you the whole time, no matter who else is coming and going, allows you to relax and know you’ll be supported.
Your doula can also be the outward-facing point person who provides updates to others and manages required tasks so you can stay focused on your birth experience.
Here’s an article detailing the reasons I believe single parents need a doula more than anyone.
As you may know, it’s recommended that you not transfer to the hospital until you are 5cm dilated and contractions are 1 minute apart, lasting one minute (5-1-1). The time from when you begin early labor to this time varies greatly for many women, but can often take up to 24 hours and could start any time of day or night.
Make sure you have a plan for this part of the birthing process. In the beginning, it may feel manageable alone, but you have no idea how you may react to the process so it’s important to have support at the ready. You want to do everything in your power to stay calm and support at this juncture could be a big part of that.
Many doulas arrange to meet you when you transfer to the hospital. If you are hiring a doula, ask if they would be present sooner and make sure you have a clear agreement about when they will arrive to assist you.
As a single parent, you may not have as many people to help you won’t have a partner present who can help with many of the logistics necessary when you first get home from the hospital. And depending on your support team, you may be home for extended periods of time alone in the first few weeks.
It’s likely you will be so absorbed in caring for and bonding with your baby that you will not be able to coordinate the care of pets, food preparation and other details of life.
Some ways to help lessen the load upon return home:
- Stock your freezer with food you can easily warm up. Ask your foodie friends to make your food ahead of time you can put into the freezer and easily heat up.
- Ask a friend to start and manage a Meal Train for you. Consider using Lots of Helping Hands or MealTrainPlus so you can add chores, tasks, rides to the doctor into your list.
- Avoid feeling isolated: Many people request that friends who are dropping off food not come in to visit. As a single parent, you may want to rethink this convention. Having daily short visits with friends and family can be very important for a new single parent who may otherwise be at home alone for hours with a new baby.
- Consider hiring a postpartum doula even if it feels like a splurge. The help and companionship are invaluable.
Recognize what a strong, amazing person you are
Every day that you feel overwhelmed will be balanced by days when you feel invigorated by your self-sufficiency and problem-solving. So, above all, remember you can do this. It’s certainly not easy. You will likely be very tired and at times frustrated and overwhelmed by pregnancy and beyond. But, you will find strength and resourcefulness beyond what you thought possible and uncover your inner superwoman.
6 Ways To Survive Pregnancy When You’re Single (From A Mom Who’s Been There)
Sarah Kowalski is a Single Mother by Choice, Life Coach, childbirth educator and author of Motherhood Reimagined: When Becoming A Mother Doesn’t Go As Planned. She provides one-on-one, group support and coaching as well as Cornerstone Method childbirth education classes for women who are navigating the path of single parenthood.