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11 Things Pregnant Single Moms Should Plan Before Baby Arrives — That Make Postpartum Easier

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Mom gives toddler a kiss on the cheek

Are you pregnant and solo — either because you intentionally got pregnant on your own via donor or because the father isn’t in the picture for some reason?

Being pregnant solo can be a rewarding and vulnerable time. In my experience, there are many universal truths about being pregnant, but it is a unique experience to be pregnant solo. There are simply more things to think through so that you can feel supported and empowered as a new mama. 

So, what does a pregnant solo mom need to think about when she’s preparing for postpartum that might be unique to being single?

Here’s a list of some of the things I’ve realized from my own experience as well as from working with many pregnant and postpartum single mamas. 

Eleven things to do now to make life as a new solo mom a little easier 

1. Utilize services and support. 

Get as much support from the hospital as you can before you get released. For example, utilize the lactation consultant through the hospital. One client of mine advised that as a solo mom don’t go home early if offered. Use the time to rest and have your eyes on you and your baby.

Some hospitals will have visiting nurse services available to check on you, especially if you’ve had a c-section or complication. Utilize the services available through the hospital. 

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2. Organize help at the hospital.

Most women spend a lot of time planning who will support them through their birth. But they fail to plan for those first few days in the hospital after the baby is born.

There are lots of nurses and people to help, but it can still be an overwhelming time and you may want a friend or family member to stay with you–especially at night. If you have a C-section, it can be next to impossible to get out of bed those first few days to get your baby.

The nurses can help you, but there will be moments when your baby is crying and you have to wait for the nurse to come. Having someone there to help felt critical to me. 

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3. Plan for help at home.

It’s a joyous moment when you finally get to bring your baby home. But again, it’s a moment that can feel extremely overwhelming and vulnerable.

You’re suddenly alone in the house with a newborn! Consider whether there is someone who can help you in the first few days at home. Especially if you’ve had a c-section? Friends? Family? For some people, these first few weeks are easier than others.

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4. Hire help. 

If you don’t have family or friends, consider hiring a postpartum doula or someone who can give you a few hours' breaks every day.

Many single mothers by choice (SMCs) have someone who can come over early in the morning to watch the baby while mama takes a nap for a few hours to get a few extra precious hours of sleep.

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5. Plan for some birth story processing. 

Because birth is so unpredictable, many women do not experience the birth they were envisioning. There can be deep feelings of disappointment and distrust that arise and it’s important that you have someone you can talk to.

I’m always here to listen but I find it’s especially powerful to join a postpartum group with fellow single moms to help process the experience with. In my childbirth education class, we plan a reunion just so everyone gets a chance to share their story.

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6. Prioritize some self-care. 

All of a sudden, you will find yourself thrust into a world where someone else’s needs are much more pressing than your own. The early newborn days can be strangely demanding. You might realize it’s been days since you showered or sat down to eat.

But it’s critical that you take care of yourself. It probably won’t look like it did pre-kid but do what you can–even just getting outside every day to get some sun on your face, or walk around the block.

Otherwise the days all blur together and it won’t be long till you are burned out. 

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7. Follow the 'one thing' rule. 

It’s time to simplify your life. If you’re anything like me and many single moms, you're a get-stuff-done kind of girl. But now that you are alone raising a baby, you need to slow down and simplify.

To put it into perspective, remember that in many cultures, you and your baby do not leave the house for the first 40 days. My advice, for the first 3 months: Only plan to do ONE thing out of the house per day. That can be one trip to the store or one lunch date.

Getting out of the house can be exhausting, so keep life simple. Pamper yourself and your baby.  

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8. Stay well-fed. 

You need to eat to replenish iron and nutrients lost via birth or breastfeeding (if that’s what you choose). Yet, getting healthy meals cooked can be tricky with a new baby in arms.

Consider asking colleagues or friends to set up a system to bring you meals and do errands such as walking your dog for a minimum of six weeks — but ideally three months. Alternate days for food delivery so you have a meal for coming every three days.

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9. Ask for help.

It’s not easy to ask for help. Especially for incredibly independent solo moms. But, you are going to have to get used to asking for help and building a village as fast as possible.

One idea is to have a sign-up sheet at your baby shower. And then, use the list to ask for help in one batch.

One SMC I interviewed did this and she emails everyone on that list anytime she needs help. Some people have never responded, but others have become regular helpers. It saves time to do one group email but also keeps you on people’s radars. 

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10. Stay connected. 

Many times it’s traditional for anyone bringing a meal to leave it on your doorstep and leave you alone to bond as a family. But unlike partnered mamas, you won’t necessarily have someone there. So, instead invite anyone who brings you a meal to come inside and hold the baby while you shower, eat or just talk to another adult.

I loved having visitors come in and visit so I didn’t get too lonely. But, don’t overdo it with too many visitors a day.

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11. Guard your mental health. 

Once again, as a solo mom, you don’t necessarily have someone there who is noticing how you are doing over time. Since you don’t have a partner keeping an eye on you, it’s important that someone does.

Tell your close friends to check in on you daily. It’s easy to get the baby blues or even postpartum depression. And sleep deprivation can take a huge toll on your mental health that you may not realize. 

Being a single mom can feel empowering and powerful.

But it doesn’t mean that you don’t need to be thoughtful about how to support yourself through vulnerable times. Take the time ahead of giving birth to consider what you need and start asking for help now.

RELATED: I Knocked Myself Up: What It's Like To Have A Solo Pregnancy 

Sarah Kowalski is the owner and founder of Motherhood Reimagined. In addition to individual coaching and support groups, she provides a community forum and resources for single moms by choice and single moms by choice to be.

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