Experts and moms who've been there weigh in with their best advice for mamas-to-be who are doing pregnancy without a partner.
Maybe you've chosen to go it alone, or maybe your partner is unable (or unwilling) to be there for you during these long nine months. Whatever the reason, the whole pregnancy thing can seem very difficult to face alone, but it doesn't have to be a scary experience. Here are a few moms and experts with some great advice on how to go it alone and enjoy your pregnancy to the fullest!
1. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family.
Just because your child's father is out of the picture for one reason or another does not mean you are alone. Emotional support can come from others who love and care for you. Good friends, close relatives, and even a friendly neighbor can all help you get through this extremely emotional time. At 45, Shelly Nentwig of Gilbert, Arizona, knew she wanted to start a family on her own. After getting pregnant with twins, she says she found support in her friends and family. "I didn't have any judgment, just total support," she says. And it made the experience even more enjoyable for her.
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2. Join a support group.
"The first thing any woman facing a solo pregnancy should realize is that there are endless options for support," explains Kathryn Smerling, Ph.D., LCSW, a family therapist in New York City. She recommends speaking with your OBGYN to get information on support groups in your area that can connect you with professionals who can help you through your pregnancy and after delivery as well. They may also be able to connect you with other women who have been in your shoes, too.
3. Believe in yourself.
Elizabeth Peace of Fort Meade, Maryland, hadn't intended on becoming a single mother. But when the father of her child made it clear he would not be a part of the pregnancy or the child's life, she decided she'd just have to do it on her own, much to her family's dismay. Her biggest regret? Her own self-doubt. "It was years before I realized I could do anything with hard work and belief in myself," she says.
4. Don't be afraid to accept help.
"Sometimes women think they have to be so strong that they become unwilling to accept help of any kind," says Dr. Smerling. When it comes to surviving a pregnancy on your own, this attitude just won't do you any good. "You have to keep in mind that it's essential to build a tribe," she encourages. "It truly takes a village!"
5. Make decisions that are best for you, not for everyone else.
Peace has never regretted having her son, but does regret the time she wasted listening to the harsh judgments of others. "Block out the noise," she explains. "Don't make your decisions based on what they want for your life." Ultimately, you need positive support during this time. This is your baby and your pregnancy and you get to choose how you do everything. You can also choose to distance yourself from those who are pushing you into a direction you don't want to go in.
6. Get friends to come to doctor's appointments with you.
Being pregnant on your own can be a very isolating experience if you live through the everyday hardships of it by yourself. Sometimes, just having a friend tag along for routine appointments can help keep those lonely feelings at bay and lead to a more enjoyable pregnancy. Nentwig always had a friend accompany her to her OB appointments. "I just reached out to my friends through Facebook and asked if anyone could come," she explains. "And every time, I had someone who was available to go with me!"
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7. Relieve stress.
Stress can make pregnancy even more difficult for both you and your unborn child. Edna Lindsey, the Healthy Parents & Babies Program Manager at Ounce of Prevention Fund in Chicago, says relieving stress is very beneficial to a pregnant woman. "Mothers-to-be who are feeling worried or frazzled should practice relaxing techniques like breathing exercises and meditation to help center themselves and calm their nerves," Lindsey explains. Other relaxing activity ideas include reading and exercising.