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Smart Tips for Single Moms

There are many situations that lead women to be single moms. Some women are forced into this situation; other women have chosen to have a baby on their own. Whatever led you to be a single mother, it's important to remember that you're never alone. There are people and resources to help you out -- and you'll need them. As any parent will tell you, babies are a lot of work and can be very expensive. That's why being prepared for your new life with a baby is especially important for single moms.

Even financially independent women can be shocked by the cost of having a child; baby clothes, formula, diapers, childcare, and a college plan add up fast. Make a budget now to see how your current income will work once the baby arrives. Include all that you spend right now; then add the things you'll need for the baby. It's often helpful to write down everything you spend money on for a week to see where your money really goes each month.

For the emotional ups and downs of pregnancy, find a community of other mothers, both pregnant and experienced, to help get you through the bad days and celebrate the good. There are many support groups for expecting mothers in most communities through churches, organizations, and hospitals. Ask your practitioner to help you find support groups especially for single mothers.

Find a friend, labor coach, or relative willing to attend childbirth classes and the delivery. If your baby's father is a friend, ask him if he'd be willing to be involved. If he's willing, work out an arrangement so that he can take part in his child's birth and care too. Ask the baby's father, or friends and relatives, to help out in the first few weeks after you have the baby. That can be an overwhelming time for new moms, especially while they're still recovering from delivery.

Your friends can be a great resource in providing care for your infant. You also can ask relatives to step in temporarily while you sort things out if infant care is too pricey. If you own your own home, consider getting a roommate to defray expenses. Another mother, who will understand a crying baby in the middle of the night, is ideal. An au pair can provide less-expensive childcare in exchange for room and board.

Finally, remember that single parenthood -- just like parenting with a partner -- offers as many rewards as it does stresses. You can raise a happy child -- no doubt about it. After all, one good parent is better than two bad ones, and you and your baby will love one another and enrich each other's lives in ways that go far beyond measure.

Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.

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