My son may be three years old already, but I remember my pregnancy and his birth very well. Chicco is my first child, so the experience was completely new to me. My ex-husband and I had just separated so this was a journey I was about to take on my own. Despite the lows amongst all the highs, I enjoyed my pregnancy and learnt so much about myself through it. So for all my fellow pregnant single mums out there, here are a few tips to help you get through.
Stay Positive. I truly believe that just as young children can pick up on their parent’s emotions, so can a child growing in your womb. Whatever else is going on in your life; a relationship break up, family pressure, financial worries, health issues or just a general feeling of fear, try your best to focus on the human being who is relying on you to be strong for them. As cheesy as this sounds, I used to imagine my son was a glowing ball of love keeping me warm on the inside.
Get the app. As soon as I found out I was pregnant I installed an app called ‘my pregnancy’. This app was amazing. There is so much happening to your body when you become pregnant. Physical changes, emotional changes and even changes that you don’t even know about. The app gives you images of what your baby looks like as he grows with information on how he’s developing. It’s a good way for mothers to connect with their child and to find answers to any questions or concerns they have.
Stay healthy. I remember being told by my midwife that labour is the toughest workout any woman will ever do. So I did whatever I could to prepare for it. I was still working full-time up until the day before I gave birth, so I walked every lunchtime, a full 40minutes. I did yoga and I swam. Where I could, I tried to eat more organically, I ate less processed sugars and ate more fruit and veg. I still gained 3 stones and towards the end my body was swollen. But I’m not complaining, because I was pregnant and happy!
Ask for help and accept help. When someone offers you help, take it. This is not the time to be a martyr. Pregnancy is tough on us, and we don’t need any added stress. I don’t generally like asking for help and when I struggled to do things on my own that were difficult, I was tired, grumpy and miserable. That wasn’t good for me or my baby.
Hospital bag. I had my hospital bag ready from when I was about 6 months pregnant. For me it was just about getting it done and knowing it was there for when I needed it. I did a lot of research about what to put into it and I’ll try and get up a blog about what did go in.
Baby clothes. I knew that I would be getting lots of clothing as gift items for my baby, but didn’t want to just rely on that. So I made sure I had plenty of basics ready for a few months, as I wouldn’t have been in the mood to go shopping. I also stocked up on nappies, wipes, etc.
Baby accessories. These are things like, pushchair, changing bags, cots even toys. You have about 9 months before your baby comes, so I suggest taking advantage of any sales or offers on these products when they appear. My sister gifted me my pushchair, which she bought in the sale and managed to save over £100!
Finances. Maternity pay is not much and does not last very long. Plan your finances ahead. If you have bills to pay, try and make sure you have some money saved up to pay those bills when the time comes. I wasn’t entitled to any benefits, so my pay and savings were prioritised to pay for baby essentials. This was my first proper budgeting experience!! Boy was I glad to get back to work!
Work arrangements. Be realistic about what you will be able to do. My contract was for full-time hours, but my work have an excellent scheme allowing for a phased return back to work. Because I had taken a year off on maternity leave, this meant I could return to work gradually over a 6 month period. If you choose to return on a full-time basis straight away, don’t feel guilty about being tired. Not only do you now have a full-time job, but you are also still a full-time mum to a young baby.
Childcare arrangements. I know it seems early to think about this, but it is important, especially if you’re planning on going back to work. If you want to rely on family or friends, speak to them as early as you can and be certain about who you want watching your child. Ask yourself questions like, are they able to do it, do they have a safe place where they can watch my child, do you trust them, if there was an emergency would they know what to do and if you are going to pay them, how much can you afford to pay and how much do they expect? If you will be placing your child in a private nursery, start looking early and make a decision soon after your child is born, because nursery places get filled quickly, especially the good ones. I chose my son’s nursery based on recommendations from others parents, an ‘Outstanding’ OFSTED rating and how comfortable I felt with the place when I went in and spoke to the staff. My son has allergy issues and so an important point for me was how they would deal with this, what precautions would be made around this and if he was to have a reaction, how well informed they are about what should happen. Finance was a big issue for me too. Chicco’s nursery is expensive, but I was really happy with the nursery and also the fact that it was walking distance from where I live and where I work, so I was willing to pay the extra for the peace of mind.
Rest. During my pregnancy was the first time in my adult life that I wanted to take a nap during the day. So I did. At first I resisted until one day I was at work and I fell asleep sitting on the toilet. I only realised I had fallen asleep when I was woken up by the sound of the toilet next to me being flushed! (Yes, that happened!) I got as much sleep as I could and I’m glad I did, because after Chicco was born, I was a zombie for many months!! In fact, it was about a year before he first slept through the entire night!
Living arrangements post birth. If you live alone, it might be a good idea to arrange to stay with family or friends for at least a few weeks after the baby comes. No matter how organised and prepared we are, there is an exhaustion after childbirth that hits you harder than you can ever imagine. And that cloud of weariness stays with you for a while. There were times when I would be so exhausted, I would fall asleep mid conversation. I stayed with my parents for three entire months after Chicco was born. It was such a relief to have them around. It was nice to have them fuss over me, or watch Chicco while I did my own things. Sometimes they would even watch him while I popped to the local shops. That felt like a five star holiday to Hawaii for me!!
Enjoy this time before your baby comes. As much as I was looking forward to having my baby, I knew that there were certain things I wouldn’t be able to do for a while after he is born. So I spent some time pampering myself, visiting friends I hadn’t seen in a while, going places that are hard to get around with a pushchair or a small baby. I went to the cinema, stayed out a little late with friends for dinner, and generally enjoyed some ‘me time’.
As frightening as pregnancy and childbirth can be, it really was an amazing experience. So I hope the tips above are useful to you. I had to force myself to cut out a lot as there is so much more to add, but this is a good start. Stay strong and know that your life is about to become a million times better because I promise you, every time your child will look up and smile at you, all of it will be worth it. x