Being pregnant solo can be a rewarding and vulnerable time. In my experience, there are many universal truths about being pregnant, but it is also a unique experience to be pregnant solo. There are simply more things to think through so that you can feel supported and empowered as a new mama.
So, what does a pregnant solo mom by choice need to think about when she’s preparing for postpartum that might be unique to being single? Here’s a list of some of the things I’ve realized from my own experience as well as from working with many pregnant and postpartum SMC’s.
What does an SMC need to think about postpartum?
- Utilize services and support. Get as much support from the hospital before you get released. For example, utilize the lactation consultant through the hospital. One client of mine advised that as an SMC don’t go home early if offered. Use the time to rest and have eyes on you and your baby. Some hospitals will have visiting nurse services available to check on you, especially if you’ve had a c-section or complication. Utilize the services available through the hospital, this includes social worker.
- Help at the hospital. Consider what help you might need at the hospital–do you want someone to stay in the hospital with you at night? Or people to visit you during the day. If you have a C-section, it can be next to impossible to get out of bed those first few days to get your baby. The nurses can help you, but I found that having a friend with me felt critical in those first few days.
- Help at home. Is there someone who can help you in the first few days at home? Especially if you’ve had a c-section? Friends? Family? For some people these first few weeks are easier than others.
- Hire help. If you don’t have family or friends, consider hiring a postpartum doula or someone who can give you a few hours break every day. Many SMC’s have someone who can come over early in the morning to watch the baby while mama takes a nap for a few hours to get a few extra precious hours of sleep.
- Birth processing. Your birth may not have gone as planned and it’s important to talk to others and process. Let me know if you need to talk or consider joining our postpartum support group so you can share your story. If you’re in my childbirth education class, we plan a reunion just so everyone gets a chance to share their story.
- Self-care. Try and get outside every day, just to get some sun on your face, walk around the block, otherwise the days all blur together.
- One thing rule. Only plan to do ONE thing out of the house per day–one trip to store, or visit out of house a day–for up to the first 3-6 months. Getting out of the house can be exhausting–keep life simple–pamper yourself and baby. In many cultures, you and baby do not leave house for first 40 days.
- Stay well-fed. Have colleagues or friends set up a Meal Train for a minimum of 6 weeks but ideally 3 months. Alternate days for food delivery so you have a meal for 2 or 3 coming every 3 days.
- Ask for Help. Have a sign-up sheet at your baby shower or with Meal Train sign up to be on an email list to help you. One SMC I interviewed did this and she emails everyone on that list anytime she needs help. Some people have never responded, but others have become regular helpers. It saves time to do one group email, but also keeps you on people’s radars.
- Stay connected. If someone comes to bring food, consider letting them stay to visit and help you. (I loved having visitors come in and visit so I didn’t get too lonely). But, don’t overdo it with too many visitors a day.
- Guard your mental health. Have people checking in with you daily. It’s easy to get the Baby blues, or even postpartum depression. And sleep deprivation can take a huge toll on your mental health that you may not realize. Since you don’t have a partner keeping on eye on you, it’s important that someone does.
What did I miss? What felt important for you to consider for postpartum.
Was it helpful to think about postpartum from the perspective of SMC’s? I provide 10-week Childbirth Education Class for SMC’s roughly every 11 weeks. Next one begins July 13th, 2022. I co-teach with Betsy Freeman, a Certified Nurse Midwife and fellow SMC. We focus on everything you need to know about giving birth, but leave tons of space for you to check-in and be seen in your SMC pregnancy journey. Plus, we regularly tailor the topics to focus specifically on what SMC’s need to consider. Join me and Betsy here or reach out to me to discuss more.
Betsy and I also host a postpartum support group. It’s been a lifeline for the women there to have a forum to chat about everything that’s coming up, process birth stories, lactation and sleep advice and more. We meet every other week on Tuesdays at 10am PST/1pm EST.
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