What To Expect When You're Expecting and a Single Mom
Pregnancy and childbirth is the most beautiful experience a woman is blessed to go through. You begin to imagine your life with your little family. Family vacations, first days of school, first holidays, and family pictures.
The little life inside you has stolen your heart before it has even been born. Unfortunately, not all experiences with pregnancy are harmonious as we would like them to be. Sometimes our lives move in directions we never anticipated them too. Never in my life did I ever expect to be pregnant AND single.
In 2014, I went through an experience I would never wish on any women; being pregnant and single. I ended my 6-year relationship with my children's father and a week later I took a pregnancy test that turns out to be positive. I immediately panicked. I would never stay in a relationship solely for my children and despite my current situation decided to keep my unborn baby.
For me, that was the best decision I made. He is the light of my life and brings so much joy to everyone in my family. Not all mothers are as lucky as I am. With major emotional support from my family, I have been able to kick ass at single motherhood. For those of you who aren't so lucky here's what you can expect when you are expecting and a single mother.
How to be a single mom with no help
Unfortunately, this may be the reality of your situation. If you are a mom who is more for keeping baby than the father, this is something you will need to be prepared for. You also must not spend the bulk of your pregnancy trying to bring him on board. The stress of that shit is not good for you or baby. Yes, it is ideal for the father to be present in his child's life but don't force it. Trust me, if he doesn't want to be involved he won't be. A forced relationship is not good for the baby either.
Be prepared for late nights up with a newborn alone with no partner to swap turns with. Be prepared to attend doctors appointments, school registrations, emergency room visits, your child having sick days which equals missing work, or possibly giving birth alone. While this may be a bit depressing to think about, I'm always going to keep it real with you because like myself, hundreds if not millions of other single moms live this every day.
Spend your time gathering your resources. Look up prices for daycare centers around your home and if that is not affordable, start asking around about in-home daycares. They are much more affordable for moms with a limited budget. Also, consider the possibility of child support, even if the dad isn't physically involved, he should still help. Don't let your pride get in the way of an easier life. If you can go without that supplement income, then, by all means, go without. Also, please don't file out of spite.
It is perfectly okay to be angry that he wants nothing to do with the life you both created. It is okay to be angry that you have to go at this parenting thing alone. It is perfectly okay to resent him. Just don't dwell too much on the negative. It does you no good spending so much time focusing on what he is doing. Because babe, (depending on the type of guy we're dealing with here) he is not thinking twice about you. Move on, spend this time preparing for baby, and give him enough love for two.
Common Pregnancy Symptoms
Of course, you can expect your common pregnancy symptoms like change in mood, fatigue, hunger, increased need to pee, and swollen breast. You've missed your period, now you need to make a doctors appointment with an OBGYN to get checked out and find out your due date. If you are still in a good place and cordial with the father of your baby bring him along too.
Unfortunately, this will not be the case for most pregnant single moms. Sadly I went to all my appointments alone and I wish I could go back and involve one of my friends or aunts. If you have family, lean on them. They may not support the situation, but trust me you could use all the emotional support you could get.
you may experience Depression
I suffered a mild case of the baby blues with my first born in 2011. It wasn't until my third pregnancy in 2014, after suffering in silence, then diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety. I was then advised to take antidepressants to help. If you are going to opt for taking antidepressants, please remember that they are not a cure for your depression. You still must make some very crucial life changes for you to start feeling any "relief".
A pregnant woman may not realize that she is suffering from depression. At first, the many other symptoms that are typical of pregnancy may not seem different from depression. Part of the reason for the lack of treatment is the fact that many obstetricians are not screening for it. On the other hand, this is probably because of hormonal changes during pregnancy.
Common symptoms of depression include:
- Lack of energy
- Disrupted sleep patterns
- Difficulty concentrating, a feeling of emptiness
- A loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Feelings of guilt or shame
- Loss of appetite or a tendency to overeat
****Please seek professional help if your depression worsens. Talk to your doctor about all of your symptoms.
expect to be Stressed the f*ck out
Single mothers do the work of 3 every day, with little to no social support and millions of life stressors. When I was pregnant I was already a mother to my 4-year-old daughter Kymora and my 18-month son, Blake. I was sick, exhausted and stressed out.
These days single moms need a stockpile of ways to distress, like doing things to regain our balance and focus. Try to get at least an hour of downtime for yourself. Having children involves nonstop demands on our mental, physical, even emotional energy. Taking the time and space we need to recharge helps us be better moms. Plus your children will enjoy and love your good mood. No matter how full your day is, try to at least take an hour to yourself to take a breath and relax.
Need something new to try to lower your stress levels, and soothe your mind? Try yoga and meditation. I started therapeutic yoga to help with my depression. Now I love going to therapeutic yoga, which happens to be a type of yoga for people with depression and people who have suffered an injury or in chronic pain.
If practiced consistently yoga can increase body awareness, sharpens concentration, and relieves chronic stress patterns. All it takes is some quiet and a few minutes of alone time. The best part is that you can meditate anywhere.
More Advantages of Yoga and Meditating
- Lift mood
- Improve memory
- Less stressed
- Increased productivity
- Stronger immune system
- Better sleep
Budgeting as a single mom
When you are raising kids on your own without a partner, your personal finances are constantly on your mind. Especially without a supplemental income like child support. Each month I had to worry about making sure bills werepaid and keeping pocket money until my next check direct deposits.
If you are already not getting any financial support, finance will stress you the hell out. Your mind starts to race thinking about how to keep a roof over your family's head and how you'll feed them. I have struggled with financial stability and overwhelmed with unessential clutter in my life. Start planning now, so you can avoid the stress later.
Go through at least 3 months of bank statements and write out your disposable expenses. Average out how much you spend on items in clothing, entertainment, debts (credit cards and loans), grocery, restaurants. This will get you thinking about where you are right now, which will help you identify your long and short-term goals.
Use Qapital for saving money towards future goals. For those who are not familiar with the app, it's used for goals setting like traveling, buying a house, or hobbies. It's perfect for people like me who have trouble saving money and I love that I'm saving without even knowing I'm saving money.
Here's the step-by-step:
- Set up your account, and all personal information (excluding ssn of course)
- Add one or two checking accounts (no prepaid cards or accounts)
- Choose a Goal (What do you want Most?)
- Name your goal and how much you will need
- If you are the only person achieving this goal, click "Set my goal".
- After your members are added, you can now click set my goal and add a rule.
- Choose rules that keep you accountable: Guilty Pleasure Rule
Start saving now to avoid the stress in the days to come. Having emergency funds as a single parent is a tremendous sanity saver, especially for unforeseeable events like job loss or no financial support from the childs father.
Only spend money on things you truly need; I can not express this enough. Stick to the things that you definitely need to survive like groceries, gas or public transportation money, medications, kids necessities, and personal care. Toss unessential expenses like fast food and dinners out, movies, and new clothes. If you plan to have a baby shower, wait until the shower to buy extra things for baby.
There will always be days where you'll feel like giving up. Some days you may even feel like a failure, but you got this! I know would be most convenient to have been in a relationship, married, or just some kind of help. Keep these tips in mind when life starts knocking back.
Over time you'll have to learn to lean on your family. It may not be easy at first. Don't feel like you are burdening them with your problems. Your family may surprise you and WANT to help. Keep in mind that less stress is good for you and baby.
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I'm Daisha Renee; single mama, foodie, and lover of yoga. Here on my blog I write about the challenges navigating life as a single mother while suffering with depression. I also provide tips to help with overwhelm and practical solutions for single parenting.