single pregnant woman lying on the coach and holding her belly

Single and Pregnant: Tips from Moms Who've Been There

By Stacey Feintuch
February 15, 2024

Being single and pregnant may make you feel many emotions, including joy, fear, and uncertainty about how to do it solo. Pregnancy comes with challenges and triumphs for anyone. And although it’s often easier to go through them with support, no rulebook says that support needs to be a romantic partner.

Diane, a business owner with an infant daughter, says pregnancy is a magical time, especially when you’re doing it solo. “It’s a transformation in your uterus, your heart, and your mind,” says the Honolulu resident. “It’s the greatest journey I’ve ever been on. Even though I’m doing it the unconventional way without a partner, I’ve joined an exclusive club.”

It can be helpful to be prepared to handle the challenges that can come with being a single-parent family. We talked with parents who’ve been through it to share how you can go through all stages and needs of pregnancy—happy and healthy—as a single person.

Prioritize Self-Care

Self-care can be anything that helps you feel good, mentally or physically, and it’s crucial to weave self-care into your pregnancy from the get-go. On top of the stress of things like pregnancy symptoms, single pregnant people may also have extra worries about things like how to get to the hospital, what childcare will look like, or how to raise a child on one income. Self-care can help you manage that stress.

For Sheryl, a single mom in Bergen County, New Jersey, manicures were her form of self-care pre-pregnancy. While she was on bed rest when pregnant with her daughter, her manicurist painted her nails at her house. She got self-care and a sense of normalcy, even while she was in bed.

Maureen, an online educator from northern Virginia, opted for prenatal massage.

For Marissa, a single mom in Colorado Springs, self-care meant mental stimulation. “While pregnant, I was in school to be a pharmacy technician,” she says. “Studying helped keep my brain sharp.”

Diane saw a therapist once a week, which was covered under her insurance and helped her cope with grief and other complex feelings she had around being single and pregnant. “I [also] did areas of self-care that I knew would make a difference and be low cost,” she says, like exercise.

Other ideas for physical and mental self-care during pregnancy include:

Find Your Support People

It’s important to build a network of supportive people who can help and empower you throughout this experience. “When it feels like one form of support is taken from you, watch for how support shows up for you in unexpected ways,” Diane says.

You could find support in one go-to person. But you may be better off enlisting a few people with various skill sets, like someone who’s handy to set up a crib, or someone who’s a good researcher to help find a high-rated stroller. Someone reliable could take you to medical appointments and birthing classes, and someone empathetic can be a listening ear. These people can be friends, helpful neighbors, or family members.

You can also find support from online connections and professionals like a case manager or therapist. As Maureen notes, building a team takes the load off any one person, including you.

“I picked and chose who I wanted to support me in certain situations,” says Noam, a writer in Los Angeles with an infant son. In the delivery room, she had support from a friend with two children, so she knew her friend wouldn’t be squeamish. She asked another friend who’s handy to assemble a changing table.

Creating your personal support system takes communication. Organization may help, too. For example, during pregnancy, Noam created a list of people willing to watch the baby.

“Whenever anyone said, ‘I love babies; I’ll come and help,’ I put their name into a list on my phone. That way, I was prepared for who would show up for me once the baby was born,” she says. “Then, when my son was born and I needed help for an hour or two, I called them. I already had the list ready.” You can do the same for anyone who’s expressed a willingness to help you with your needs during pregnancy.

Don’t forget professional support that’s available to you, as well. A doula can provide support and advocacy during birth and postpartum. Doula services are covered by some health insurance plans, including Medicaid plans in certain states.

A lactation consultant can be a valuable resource if you plan to chest/breastfeed. The Affordable Care Act mandates that health insurance cover breastfeeding support, counseling, and equipment. Check with your insurance plan. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) can also provide some expert support if you qualify.

Check Your Finances

Being pregnant and raising a child requires some careful planning, saving, and spending. Use pregnancy as a time to get your finances in order before the baby arrives.

To save and help with costs, you could:

  • Review your spending habits and decide what can be paused or reduced, like shopping budgets, meals out, or subscription services.
  • Create a baby registry so people close to you can buy you gifts if they like.
  • Accept gently used secondhand items (just note that cribs, car seats, and some other items must follow certain safety guidelines set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, so double-check that your items are safe).
  • Look into what’s covered by your health insurance and other financial assistance programs.

Most health insurance plans, including Medicaid plans, will pay for a breast pump, for example. And federal or state assistance plans can help with food and healthcare if you qualify. Look into Medicaid, WIC, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Benefits vary depending on where you live.

Do what you can to save for the baby’s arrival, too. “When I started trying to get pregnant with IVF, I set aside money in a savings account each month that would cover the cost of daycare,” Sheryl says. By the time she became pregnant, she had enough money for a daycare deposit and to cover expenses while home from work for 12 weeks after giving birth.

Noam set aside money for a night nurse while she was pregnant. “Since it was just me, I needed an expert alongside me to show me what to do and help me get sleep,” she says.

Think about your financial needs now and in the future, and do your best to prepare.

Decide How to Manage Appointments

Prenatal appointments can contain a lot of information. Think about what strategy can help you keep track of it all. For instance, Marissa wrote down notes on her phone, while Diane would rely on electronic after-care notes from her provider that summarized each visit.

Consider also whether you’d like any additional care or testing as a single pregnant person. If you don’t know the family health history of the other biological parent, you might not know whether your future child is at risk for certain hereditary health conditions. For some, genetic testing can help them become better informed.

Celebrate the Positives

Being single and pregnant may not be easy, but there are many upsides you can focus on.

Diane notes that being single while pregnant gave her freedom to make choices. “I made investments for my health, like hiring a doula, that I don’t think my ex would have been okay with,” she says. “It was a time to focus on myself, my own growth, and make the best decisions for my health and the baby’s health without having to consult anyone.”

Among other things, you can decide for yourself on a baby name, religious upbringing, sleeping arrangements, and parenting style.

Get Ready for Parenthood After Pregnancy

In the months before your baby is born, get ready for what’s ahead. That may mean taking parenting classes or joining a single-parents support group in person or online, such as Single Mothers by Choice. Your healthcare provider may be able to connect you with other single parents, too. That way, you can chat with others who relate to exactly what you’re going through.

“It was a blessing to make friends in a similar situation,” says Diane, who joined a group fitness class for pregnant women and a single-mom support group online. “We were able to support each other, even from a distance.”

Trust Yourself to be Great

Give yourself credit for taking this path solo. You’re strong and resilient. You can manage these nine months and then some. Maureen says that, while some days haven’t been easy, she has no regrets. “While it has not been a cookie-cutter process, [my son] is the joy of my life. By far, the best thing I’ve done was to have him.”

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