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Single Parenting

The terms "broken home" and "solo mum" are rarely uttered these days thanks to political correctness and society recognising that lifestyles and patterns are changing.

More and more women go through pregnancy, labour and parenthood alone.

Australian figures show that almost 40 per cent of mothers who gave birth in 2000 were unmarried and the number of one-parent families is projected to increase by up to two thirds within the next 25 years.

While we can assume that some of these unmarried mothers may be involved or living with a partner, it remains a fact that single-parent families are becoming more common. As a result single parenting has become far more widely accepted in our society than it was even two decades ago.

The terms "broken home" and "solo mum" are rarely uttered these days thanks to political correctness and society recognising that lifestyles and patterns are changing.

Perhaps too the media’s fixation with high profile celebrity single mums going about their lives has actually helped present single parenthood in a different light, helping quash the futile and antiquated stigma that was so readily attached to single parenthood.

Emerging instead is a more quietly respectful awe of these seemingly competent and confident women who embark on parenthood unaided.

Let’s not forget that only a generation ago, pregnant single women were sent away by their families in disgrace to give birth in secrecy. Surrounded by people they did not know, these mothers were then commanded to give their babies for adoption and expected to return to their lives without a word.
Childless and bereft, this was the birth story of many women in this country.

Focus

The reasons why a woman might find herself single and confronting motherhood are varied. It may be a relationship break-up, an unplanned pregnancy, death of a loved one or simply choice that finds a woman without a partner at this time.

But whatever the circumstances, it is important to focus on the health and wellbeing of both yourself and your baby during pregnancy and as a parent.
Take comfort in knowing that many women have given birth and raised vibrant and happy children on their own. Recent studies in Britain have proved that children raised in single parent environments can excel just as well as those children from two parent families, demonstrating that it’s the quality, not quantity, of parenting that counts.

Fortunately society has progressed and recognised that needs have changed.
There is more help available today to a single parent than ever before including government assistance if you are unable to financially support yourself and your child. There are many community support networks to help you.

Network

It is natural to have anxieties and at times you may feel isolated. Single parents are united in their need for extra support. Having access to a network of reliable friends and family can be a huge help. If this isn’t possible, establish contact with other single parents in your area and spend time with people who are going through the same feelings and changes as you.

Professionals

Find a midwife or doctor you feel comfortable with and trust. It is important that you feel you can confide in this person. There are many options of antenatal care* available to you. Talk to your general practitioner about which would suit you best.

Prenatal Class

Enrol in a prenatal class. There’s no need to be uncomfortable about going to a class alone as many women attend without partners. If it bothers you may wish to take a friend. You will learn a lot of practical information about the birth and coping with a baby. Quiz your midwive as much as you can – you can never know enough. Try pregnancy yoga or an antenatal aqua class
where you will meet third and fourth-time mothers with a sense of humour and some gems of advice. 

Allocate time for you

Make time for yourself. Whether it’s a long walk, a meditation, writing a pregnancy diary or a soak in the bath, it’s vital you look after yourself. For a treat, book a massage near the end of the second trimester. It’s a good investment and a great way to relax.

Preparation

Be practical and organise as much as you can before the birth. In the latter stages of pregnancy, cook food in advance to freeze* for when you return home. If you can afford it, buy a large freezer and a good washing machine. Ask your generous and doting friends and family members for a nappy
laundering service as a combined gift. 

Birthing Partner

Contemplating pregnancy without the father of your child does not mean you must face labour and birth alone. Think constructively about who you would like with you. Choose a birthing partner who can be with you at the antenatal classes and during the delivery.

In many cultures, birth is something that is attended by women only.

Research carried out has revealed that if a woman is accompanied by a female birthing partner, there is less need for pain relief and labour is shorter with less medical intervention. The babies are in better condition at birth. More and more "doulas" are being used at births around the world.

Doula is a Greek word for "female birthing companion" and marks a return to ancient and tribal custom.

In Tibet, women about to give birth are taken away from their villages to a birthing hut lined with straw. There are no men and only one other woman present. The woman has the freedom to move around during labour, acting spontaneously and intuitively at every stage. Delivery usually occurs in an upright position, using gravity. The baby is placed on the mother’s chest as soon as it is born and together the two remain in the hut alone for the first month. The birth partner continues to deliver food but no men see the mother or child, not even the father.

Returning Home

Once you return home with your newborn, have someone stay with you to help during the first month. All mothers say, with or without a partner, this is the most physically and emotionally draining time of all. Never be afraid to ask for help. If friends are visiting, ask them to bring ready prepared meals to freeze rather than a gift. Be resourceful and cheeky. You will be anxious at first and you will make mistakes. Every mother does. Try to relax a little and maintain some degree of humour. Life will calm down eventually. 

Parenting

Very few people approach parenthood without some fear about their suitability in the role of raising children. It is natural to feel this way though this may seem compounded when facing the role alone. Think positively and take steps to make the transition easier. Some single parents feel guilty. And if you want a night out, arrange a babysitter and go.

Guilt has no place in your new role. Drop any negative emotions you may have and consider how single parenting can have its advantages. Two individuals coming together from different backgrounds with contrary family values can bring friction in values and decision-making. As a single parent you are able to raise your child in your own way. You have no partner to question or criticise your logic. As a result your relationship with your child may be closer. It may also be more intense as you will be the main focus of your child’s love and needs. 

Love

Children need love and security and you can provide that.
It’s not an easy task, and often it may seem a thankless one. But few women ever regret having children.

Affirmations

Some of these may work for you. Or alternatively feel comfortable to make
up your own.

  • I trust and love my pregnant body
  • I trust in my body to give birth naturally
  • I am able to embrace each contraction and control it
  • My breath is my energy
  • I trust my ability to remain strong and positive
  • My child and I have chosen each other
  • I welcome the birth of my child
  • I have an innate knowledge for motherhood
  • I will make my needs clear to others
  • I am open to help if I need it



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