Much of the advice we get as single moms prior to pregnancy is focused on how to prepare ourselves physically for pregnancy. From prenatal vitamins to losing (or gaining) weight, there are countless resources for how to prepare your body for pregnancy. But we shouldn’t neglect preparing ourselves mentally for having a baby as well!
By Michelle Stansbury, Eat, Drink, Be San Diego
Pregnancy and raising a child is difficult for any single mom. Expect exhaustion, financial struggles, and increased judgment from those around you. Being strong mentally will help you during the big transition of pregnancy and birth, much more than picking out the perfect crib. Taking steps to mentally prepare yourself now can empower you as you go through the overwhelming process of having a baby as a single mom.
The first thing I learned about pregnancy is that there is SO much to learn! The more you can learn ahead of time, the less inundated you will feel at each step of the process. That said, no matter how much you learn, unexpected things will still happen. But, learning about what to expect will help you understand what to expect as a single mom and when there is a problem.
Learn about common pregnancy symptoms and educate yourself about the process and timeline. Understand the difference between ‘common knowledge’ and science-based recommendations can be incredibly helpful when you’re making choices about your own pregnancy as a single mom. The most popular resource, of course, is the book “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” My personal favorite book is “Expecting Better,” which gives you the data and science behind many of the decisions you’ll have to make, without making the decision for you.
It’s important to have a plan, and equally as important to throw the plan out the window when things change. One of the advantages of being a single mom is that when unpredictable changes happen, you can quickly make decisions and readjust your sails. Mentally preparing for having a baby starts with creating a plan before you get pregnant, if possible. Develop a budget, look into maternity leave benefits with your employer, and consider what type of schedule you’ll be able to create for yourself when you return to work.
Especially as a single mom, having a plan for your pregnancy and first weeks after birth is essential to feeling empowered in your situation. Far ahead of when you think you will need it done, set up the nursery, set up the car seat, and pack the hospital bag. If you end up on bed rest or in labor earlier than necessary, this plan will make you feel a little more in control of your situation as a single mom.
Build a Community
If you only observed motherhood from Instagram posts, you would get an all-too-glossy picture of the day to day of pregnancy and raising a child. Celebrities with flat stomachs only weeks after birth. Influencers with custom filters and matching mommy and me outfits. And even your mommy friends, putting their best face forward on social media. While you may be too tired when pregnant or with a baby to socialize in real life, it can be incredibly important for you mentally.
As a single mom, building a community of other moms helps to not feeling so alone during your pregnancy process. Hearing the stories of other women as they’ve navigating pregnancy and baby is most helpful for understanding that there is no one right way, you can create your own path that works for you.
Before I started meditating, feeling calm just seemed like something that happened or didn’t happen based on the situation. I didn’t realize that just like with most things, practicing calm makes you better at cultivating it. As early as possible in your pregnancy journey, begin to train your mind to find calm. It doesn’t have to be through meditation, find the tool that works for you. Some people find it through music or artistic outlet, some through a special spot in their home where they feel the most relaxed, others through breathing exercises.
It’s no secret that being a single mom is stressful. But, it’s also very stressful, at times, being pregnant on your own. With so many changes happening in your body, it’s easy to constantly worry that something is wrong with you or your baby. The hormones don’t help, either! A practice for finding calm can be one of the most important tools for preparing yourself mentally.
Michelle Stansbury is a San Diego-based blogger and freelance writer who writes about travel, food, cannabis, and relationships. Follow her @discovermichelle or visit https://www.eatdrinkbesd.com/. Her work has appeared in national magazines like Marie Claire, Forbes, Cosmo, Reader’s Digest, and Bustle.