Between the morning sickness, the hormonal roller coaster, the countless doctor appointments, and the numerous preparations for the coming baby, pregnancy can be a tremendously stressful time. It can also be a beautiful and exciting experience for a husband and wife to share; yet, many women don't have partners to hold their hands through the ups and downs of pregnancy and delivery.
Each year, more than a million women experience pregnancy alone. Some are single women who have chosen to have a child on their own through artificial insemination or another method. Countless pregnant women are geographically separated from their spouses, often because their husbands have been deployed with the military or work away from home. And some women must go through pregnancy alone as a result of death or divorce—or because the father-to-be simply does not want to be involved. Regardless of each unique situation, these women all face what may feel at times like an overwhelming task—to undergo pregnancy, labor, and parenting without a partner.
If you are one of these women, you may feel yourself dealing with uncertainties and unanswered questions. Who will help me prepare my nursery? Who will take me to the hospital when I go into labor? Who will stand at my side to savor the incredible birth of my child? Who will help me care for my newborn when I am utterly exhausted? Yet you don't need to throw up your hands and take the entire burden upon yourself, simply accepting that you will be forced to tackle pregnancy and labor with no support. The truth is, you don't have to do it alone—and according to Tampa-based mental health counselor, Chip Weiner (LMHC, CEAP, SAP), you shouldn't even attempt to go through pregnancy alone. "Your attitude and mental state can have an effect on the health of your unborn baby," Weiner explains. "If you are feeling lonely or going through an emotional time, your baby will have the same experiences."
Building a Network
Regardless of the particular circumstances that have placed you in this situation, you can find someone to depend on throughout your pregnancy. According to Linda Peterman, a licensed mental health counselor in Tampa, Florida, pregnant women without a partner should develop a support system. "You need to ask yourself who is going to support you through this. Do you have family in close proximity who you are close to and comfortable with? Do you have good friends who you can rely on, talk to, and spend time with?"