Single and Pregnant: To Abort or Not to Abort

This is a sticky topic, we realize and one that you, as a potential single parent are going to have to tackle. We take no moral stance on abortion here, but simply give you a list of factors to consider, both for and against an abortion.

You’re single, for whatever reason. That’s fine. But, you’ve just discovered you’re pregnant. Maybe this is fine too…but in a lot of cases, it isn’t the greatest news you ever got. Unplanned pregnancy can be scary for married moms who have the support of a partner, but it’s even more problematic for single moms to be.

The question of abortion is always going to be a controversial one. If you’re Pro Life (meaning you don’t believe that any one should have the right to abort a fetus, whatever its age, physical condition or provenance) the decision is already made. For you, the only remaining question is whether you keep the baby yourself and raise her as a single parent or whether  you offer her up for adoption. Important decisions.

If, on the other hand, you are Pro Choice (meaning that you believe not that abortion is essential but that every woman has a right to weigh up her individual situation and decide whether she should go through with the pregnancy or not), you have the added consideration of whether or not to have an abortion.

No one but you can, or should make the choice. Certain circumstances (including rape, mental illness, serious health problems for mom or baby…) can change the picture and make an abortion more likely to be right…but not for everyone. If the circumstances are relatively normal, ie, do not include issues as mentioned above, the following questions to ask yourself should help with your decision. No one but you can supply the answers, but here are the questions:

Questions to consider

·        Am I making this decision free from pressure from anyone else?

This one’s important: no one should put pressure on you to decide. You should, if you are in a relationship, discuss it with the father of the child, but ultimately it is your choice. If he insists that you should abort the baby and you don’t want to do this, you may have to walk away from the relationship. No woman should have to undergo an abortion she doesn’t feel is right, whatever the father may say.

If, however, it goes the other way it can be more of a problem. You want to have the abortion but he wants to be a dad. It’s kind of tough on him, but it should still be your decision. It’s your body, and your life that will undergo the changes of pregnancy, the pain of birth and everything that comes later. You might suggest that he adopts the child if he feels very strongly…if he is in a situation where he can raise a child himself.

·         Are you in a financially stable situation?

It’s not the be all and end all, many single moms receive state aid and manage just fine, but it is a factor to consider. If you aren’t financially secure and know you will have to rely on state aid if you become a single mom, do your homework and find out what financial aid you will be entitled to. Finances shouldn’t force you into an abortion alone, but you have to face up to the fact that if you don’t have much cash before motherhood, you’ll have even less after!

·         Will Dad stick around?

Once more, this is just a question worth thinking about, not a reason to decide one way or the other alone. It comes down to how you feel about his decision. Are you prepared to sacrifice your relationship in order to keep the baby? Or, if he is so insistent on your having an abortion you don’t want, do you want to be in a relationship with him anyway? Sure, it’s best to raise a child in the context of a loving relationship, or at least for the child to be able to have a regular relationship with the father even if you are no longer a couple, but single moms have been bringing up babies alone for centuries and usually make a darned good job of it too.

·         Have I got a strong support network of family and friends?

This is pretty crucial: being totally alone and having a baby is not an enviable situation for anyone. But again: It can be done if it’s what you want! However, having supportive family and friends around who can help with the chores and bring in the shopping etc. in the early days is invaluable for new moms. Later on, you’ll need help if you are sick, or if th child is sick and you still have to go to work…and in many other unforseen nstances that life throws at you

·         Am I prepared for the future as a single mom?

You do need to realize just what a difference a baby will make to your life. You’ll no longer be young, free and single…just young and single. It can make it harder to find and form relationships with potential partners if you have the demands of a child at home. Now, this isn’t saying there aren’t as many blessings to life wth a baby as there are downsides, but you do need to think the whole thing through. It’s not a reversible decision!

·         I’ve already got a child/children. What impact will the new baby have on my child/children?

If you already have kids from a previous relationship, think about how a pregnancy and a new baby may affect them. It’s your place to decide, not theirs, of course, but the dynamics of your family will change with a new arrival and you needd to be prepared to deal with any jealousies or other problems that may arise.

·         What will happen to my career/education if I go ahead and have this baby?

Some single moms are working when they fall pregnant, others may still be in school. Either way,  your life will have to be put on hold for a while. If you’re working, hopefully you’ll get some maternity leave, but when that’s over you’ll need to find reliable child care when you go to work. And, you’ll have to find a way to pay for it. If you’re still in education, you may have to shelve your lessons for a while. Later, if you can wait til the kids are at school or get child care, you can always pick up your learning again, though it must be said, not all single moms do.

·         How do I feel about having my baby adopted?

Many moms forget that this is another option. They immediately think about the choice between abortion or motherhood…but adoption can be a good choice for some moms. If your religious beliefs or moral principles prevent you from choosing abortion but you don’t feel in a position to keep the baby yourself, choosing adoption can bring much joy to a childless couple. It can also offer your child the chance of a life with a loving family.

The downside to adoption is that it can be tough to say goodbye to the baby you’ve carried for nine months and struggled to bring into the world. Whatever you may feel about your pregnancy before the baby is born, it’s quite common to be taken suprise by a rush of mother love after the birth and during those first few days. Once the baby has been legally adopted, there’s no going back for you, and you need to be prepared to live with the knowledge that yor child is calling someone else ‘Mom’, being soothed to sleep by another woman each night and that whatever name you called him in your head isn’t the name he’ll be known by for the rest of his life.

So, adoption has pros and cons. Once more, sorry, there are no easy answers, just questions to ask yourself.

·         Do I really want an abortion?

Having an abortion isn’t an easy choice for most moms. Leaving aside the moral or religious issues surrounding abortion (for ths sake of this article we’ll assume you are Pro Choice) it is a medical or surgical procedure that will have a physical effect on your body. It can be invasive, painful and can have risks associated with it just like any other surgical procedures.

An abortion is also a highly charged emotional affair. Some women who have been through abortion say they have never recovered emotionally and suffer feelings of guilt and depression throughout their lives. That said, it may be that abortion is still the best answer for you. Sometimes it can be the lesser of two evils.

·         Do I have someone who can support me through the procedure and afterwards?

If you decide to go through with an abortion, you’ll need someone you can trust to help you through at all stages. Last minute doubts and panics can be helped if there’s a friend on hand to talk it all through. Having someone to take yo to the hospital or clinic can help calm your fears. Then afer, you need someone to drive you home, put you to bed and look after you for a few days. The friend you choose to help you at this time needs to be cmpletely accepting of your decision and keep her own feelings about abortion to herself.

·         Can I afford to pay for an abortion?

Sadly, medical procedures cost money, and abortions are no exception.
There are so many issues to think about if you’re single and you’ve just found out you’re pregnant. As made plain earlier, no one but you can supply the answers, but if you know the right questions to consider you are halfway to making the right decision. Whatever you decide, if it’s right for you, then it’s the only answer.

Giving Birth as a Single Mom

If your relationship has broken up during your pregnancy and you find yourself alone, giving birth can be a scary prospect. However, assuming you have decided to go through with the pregnancy and the great day approaches, it’s something you won’t be able to avoid!

 

You don’t have to give birth alone!

Remember, whatever your situation, you don’t have to give birth alone unless you want to do it that way. There are loads of options to explore when it comes to finding a birthing partner. It’s also important to remind yourself that this really is your choice. Yours, and nobody else’s. Giving birth is one of the most incredible things you will ever do in your life and the person you choose to share it with needs to be pretty incredible too.

Of course, the pretty incredible person that you choose is likely to be a female close family member, or a good friend. But, she doesn’t have to be! She…or he, (yes, you can choose a male birthing partner if you wish!) can be anyone you like as long as she (or he) is in agreement and happy to help you. It’s even possible to hire a professional birthing partner if you want.

It’s also essential that your chosen birth partner respects your situation as a single mom and doesn’t question it. For this reason, sometimes your ex partner’s mother or sister, for example,  may not be a good choice, if she harbours resentment towards you for the break up in any way. The last thing you want to have to do just before giving birth is to justify yourself to anyone. Pick someone you are totally comortable with, and ideally, someone who can come along to your ante natal classes with you too.

 

Finding a birth partner

There are many ways to find a birth partner. Start thinking about it as soon as you can to give yourself time to decide on the right person, and of course, to find them!

 

Your birth partner

The person you choose as your birth partner needs to be tuned into your feelings about the birth. So set aside plenty of time to chat. Discuss your options with them. The choices are all yours, but if your partner is experienced in giving birth herself or in helping others, she may have some good advice. Again, though, all the choices of how you want to give birth are yours to make, whatever anyone else’s opinions. The only person you need to listen to is your doctor or midwife if there are medical issues to consider.

You will need to share your birth plan, once decided, with your birthing partner. He or she will be the one who will have to stand up for you once it comes to the event and insist that if medically feasible, you have the birth that you want and have planned. If you are giving birth in a hospital, sometimes you can find that staff want to do thngs their way but you need to have your partner ready to really stand your ground for you…you will be a little busy getting on with more important business at the time!

 

Going it alone

Some women don’t want a birth partner, and there’s nothing wrong with this decision either. You’ll have your midwife and maybe a doctor present anyway, so if you’re comfortable with this then go for it. Tell the hospital or midwife in advance of your wishes to give birth alone so that is a well meaning friend or family member does turn up they will be settled in another room until you are ready to see them once the baby is born.

 

Write down your birth plan

The best thing to do is to write down your wishes for the birth and make several copies to give to anyone who may be involved in any way so there can be no ambiguity. Don’t leave this until the last minute, as if baby arrives earlier than planned you could be caught on the hop!

 

Home birth or hospital birth?

As a single mom, the issues surrounding the choice of a home or hospital birth are similar to those facing a married mom, but there is one important difference. If you have no one at home to look after you immedicately after the birth and in the first few days and weeks, you may like to take advantage of the chance to rest up a little in hospital! This also applies if you have older kids at home.

If you do want to give birth at home, though, as long as everything is normal and you look set to have a straightforward birth, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t. However, a network of people who can help you with the housework in the early days after the birth is a very useful thing to have.

 

Create your support network in advance

Whether you want to give birth alone or with a partner, in hospital or at home, you will need people who can help you in several ways. When you go into labor it’s better to have someone who can drive you to the hospital, for example, or stay with you until the midwife or your birth partner arrives. You’ll need some help with the older kids, if you have any. Families are usually good for this, so if you have a mom or sister who is happy to step in, get them involved well in advance.

If you don’t have any family or close friends nearby, there are other ways to create a support network. During your pregnancy, try to join local single moms groups or chat to people at your ante natal classes. If you are an active member of a church or religious community, there’s a chance that you can find some support there. If money isn’t such an issue for you, you can also consider hiring a professional carer, known as a doula, to help you through the birth and the early days with your baby.

 

You’ll be OK!

It might all seem a bit of a worry, especially if this is your first baby, but you will be just fine. The important thing to remember is that what your baby needs more than anything is your love.