The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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On the road to parenthood, a record number of women are traveling solo. According to the 2010 census, 38 percent of the 3.7 million women who gave birth in the last year were unmarried, separated or married but with an absent spouse. Whether single by choice or by circumstance, one of a pregnant woman’s first orders of business should be surrounding herself with supportive loved ones, says Mari Gallion, author of The Single Woman’s Guide to a Happy Pregnancy (CreateSpace Publishing). “Women should take a friendship vacation from naysayers and people whose involvement is not helpful,” she says.
Luckily, the resources available to pregnant singletons to help them plan for their and their babies’ futures have grown along with their ranks. Here, three ways to secure the support you’ll need as a new single mom:
Single Mothers to Be (sm2b.org) is a nonprofit corporation founded by Gallion in which single pregnant women can get advice from peers through an online support group. Or join Single Mothers By Choice (singlemothersbychoice.org), which offers both an online community and local meetups for women who decide to have a baby without a partner.
Nearly half of single mothers are employed full time, with about 30 percent holding part-time jobs, according to the 2007 report from the U.S. Census Bureau, but stretching one paycheck to accommodate a new baby can be challenging. Jennifer Wolf, a New Jersey-based parenting coach and advocate for single moms, offers state-by-state facts about child support, qualifying for government assistance, resources for those who don’t qualify and a monthly budget calculator on her online Single Parents Guide (singleparents.about.com).
A doula is trained to provide physical, mental and practical support throughout your pregnancy, birth and postpartum. They work together with OB-GYNs and midwives, and many doulas offer their services on a sliding scale, and those in training may work for free to gain experience. To find one in your area, visit DONA International (dona.org) or Childbirth International (findadoula.com).