Many women in Australia end up going through pregnancy alone. Some by choice after turning to IVF or assisted conception with donor sperm insemination. Other women are in a long-term relationship that seems to end ‘all of a sudden’ or was on its way out when ‘surprise’ you find out you are having a baby!
Whatever your reason for having to go this alone, I want you to know that you are NOT in fact alone. I’m going to share some of my tips and tricks so you can build up your circle of support and prepare for life after birth with your newborn baby. This is the beginning of a wonderful journey … the journey of motherhood.
Whether this is your first or third baby and you are going through pregnancy alone, you can do this with confidence and belief in yourself. You have got this!
GOING THROUGH PREGNANCY ALONE
START CREATING YOUR CIRCLE OF SUPPORT
Let’s identify who is currently in your circle of support, this is super important if you are going through pregnancy alone. Get a pen and paper or your phone notebook and list down all the people in your circle. Who get and you, and bring positive energy into your life. Don’t include anyone who upsets you or isn’t supportive of you.
Be Specific: How can those people on your list support you while you are going through pregnancy alone, birth and postpartum? Maybe your mum lives locally and is a great emotional support? Or your friend is an amazing cook? Maybe you have a sister who is excited to come to hospital appointments with you and listen to anything pregnancy/ baby related?
Have conversations with those people: Once you have identified the people on your list and how they can support you can start to write out some of the things you will need help with during your pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Here are some more ideas:
- Hospital appointments
- Non judgemental emotional support
- Practical support like putting together baby furniture, picking up heavy furniture, holding baby while you have a shower or rest, bringing around nourishing food for you
- Coffee dates – someone you can get out with and have a laugh or see a movie (while you are pregnant and only when you have the energy)
You may find you have a large list of people in your circle of support, or that you only have one or two people, or even no people you can rely on. If you need to build you circle of support, here are some ideas for you to starting creating that circle now:
- Positive birth meetings, homebirth meetings, antenatal birth education classes (like hypnobirthing)
- ABA Breastfeeding Education class and monthly meetings, held Australia wide
- Online supportive single mum groups are a great way to connect with like-minded mothers
- Connecting with people in your community like your neighbours (you never know when you might need that sugar!) and small businesses like the local coffee shop – they can start to become a second family.
PREPARE A POSTPARTUM PLAN
I always recommend anyone expecting a baby to create a postpartum plan, so you can set yourself up for a calm, confident and connected motherhood. This is especially helpful if you are going through pregnancy alone. You can download yours here!
It’s often hard to even try to picture how having a baby will fit into your life. Especially when you are having your first baby. But maybe this is your second baby, and first time expecting as a single mother.
Postpartum Planning will give you ability to understand some of the challenges that may lie ahead and help you to set strong foundations to support you through them. Here are some things I include in my Postpartum Plan for newborn mothers:
- Visualise your postpartum – close your eyes and imagine your postpartum with your newborn baby. How does it feel? Who is supporting you? How do you feel? Some words that comes to mind may be peaceful, confident, happy, content, organised, in control, supported.
- Breastfeeding – if you are planning on breastfeeding is this something that you need to take a class for like with the Australian Breastfeeding Association? While breastfeeding is natural for humans, it is a learned skill for both mother and baby and will take time, patience and support to master.
- Support – who will be your main support circle?
- Meal Planning – It’s important that you eat nourishing foods to help your body heal from pregnancy & birth.
GOING THROUGH PREGNANCY ALONE (CONT.)
BE GENTLE, KIND & LOVING TO YOURSELF
Pregnancy is one of the hardest things I have had to go through in my life. Between ‘all day sickness’, being exhausted and trying to function, the last thing I needed was to say cruel things to myself. And yet from time to time stories would pop into my head and I would compare myself to other pregnant women I knew or saw walking around.
I felt pretty pathetic during pregnancy and now that I have experienced two pregnancies, I have to surrender to the process and allow it to unfold the way it needs to. This means instead of telling myself and repeating old negative stories to myself like:
‘I’m weak, I’m the worst pregnant person ever, I’m lazy, I’m not going to handle motherhood if I can’t handle pregnancy (none of those are true by the way!)’
You need to focus on all the amazing things you are doing. Even if you focus on one positive thing a day like getting enough rest, or eating a nourishing meal.
Here are some of my favourite daily mindset practices to help you when you are going through pregnancy alone.
- Deep breathing helps me stay relaxed and calm when I’m starting to feel sad or overwhelmed I love to take a nice deep breath in and a long slow breath out through my mouth (start practicing and notice how relaxed your body feels).
- Positive affirmations are a great way to turn negative stories around. Say things like: I am enough, I am doing enough, allowing my body to rest is being kind, I am a good mother.
- Daily Gratitude journaling is a great practice that can really turn my day around. Focusing on one thing that is great in my life, like a friend, a roof over my head, a comfy bed to sleep in.
The more you practice being kind and loving to yourself, the more natural it will become and before you know it, it will feel totally normal and natural. You will notice your mood lift and shift, and things you felt were hard work previously gradually become easier and easier.
If you take anything away from this article I want you to remember this – you are an amazing, strong and capable woman. While at times going through pregnancy alone may be challenging and difficult, I know you have got this!
Sending love – Ashley