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Single and Pregnant
It’s becoming more and more common to be pregnant and single. Many expectant mothers are single women who have chosen to become pregnant; others became pregnant by accident. Some are women who have become single during a pregnancy due to divorce or the death of a spouse.

All of the single women I have helped through pregnancy and birth have had fulfilling experiences. Planning and support are essential, since the issues faced by all pregnant women become magnified when you’re going through pregnancy without a partner. To optimize the experience, plan ahead for the logistical challenges of having a baby and surround yourself with people who are supportive of your pregnancy.

Since you’re likely to be the sole financial support for your new family, you’ll need to think through and budget for taking time off from work. If having the baby will be financially challenging, you may be eligible for assistance. In the United States, consider federal, state and local resources. Check out this website to help you: http://www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/childbirthandbeyond/

If you’re working, line up a trustworthy childcare provider for your return to work and gather the names of several alternates for coverage in an emergency. Additionally, it’s a good idea to get set up early with an infant car seat, diapers and a crib in case you’re less mobile or not feeling well in the last weeks of your pregnancy.

Sharing the experience with other single pregnant women can ease the isolation and create strong bonds. Online support groups, including Single Mothers by Choice or singlemothers.org, can be an easy way to find others. Check local parenting newspapers for listings of Parents Without Partners or local mothers’ groups that may offer opportunities to meet other women who are single and pregnant. These women have firsthand knowledge of how to deal with coworkers or others who ask, “Who’s the father?”

Ideally, your obstetrician will respect the thought and care you have put into the decision to have a baby on your own. If you sense skepticism, you may want to have a frank conversation in which you express your readiness for the task and your hopes for the future. If your doctor remains negative, find another one. As your due date approaches, arrange for a close friend or relative to be with you during labor and birth. Ideally, have this person join you for childbirth preparation classes. Relish the fact that as a single mom you can choose the baby name by yourself and craft your own birth plan. When the big day arrives, it’s nice to have additional friends on standby to provide support and logistical help.

In the days immediately after giving birth, you may want to have a friend or family member stay with you while you get adjusted to the demands of an infant. Others may wish to deliver meals to your home. A doula or baby nurse can also provide assistance. Parenting is never easy, but having a child on your own can be a very positive experience.

Laura E. Stachel M.D. Obstetrician & Gynecologist