The status of single mother means a woman is operating in a non-partnered environment. For reasons like death, divorce, incarceration, separation, or termination of a relationship, a woman may become a single parent. Pregnancy resources for single mothers explore available assistance and information that single moms can access in order to make informed decisions regarding her and her unborn child. The decisions regarding pregnancy that a single mom can make include carrying the baby to term and keeping it, carrying the baby to term and giving it up for adoption, or terminating the pregnancy.
General Pregnancy Resources
Birthright International is an organization that is completely independent and not affiliated with a church or public agency. It originated in Toronto, Canada, but now has chapters in several countries worldwide, including the USA. There is a 24-hour North American hotline available at 1-800-550-4900, which can be dialed for counseling and guidance.
Birthright caters to young girls and women experiencing unplanned pregnancies, and who may be shocked at the discovery of the pregnancy and are ostracized by relatives. Their non-moralistic and non-judgmental approach to helping women having pregnancy dilemmas, provides the loving and caring homelike environment single mothers need and deserve to have, regardless of age, race, religious beliefs, and economic or marital status.
The following services are made available to single mothers:
- Help that is completely confidential
- Friendship and emotional support
- Free pregnancy testing
- Medical referrals
- Legal referrals
- Housing referrals
- Educational assistance and referrals
- Referrals to social agencies
- Referrals for professional counseling
- Maternity and baby clothes, and
- Provision of information on –
- Financial assistance
- Prenatal development
- Job search and career development
- Pregnancy and childbirth
- Child care options and
- Child safety issues.
LifeCall is a prolife support group, which means it is against abortion. Through its Several Sources Shelters program comprehensive counseling, information, and shelter free of charge for up to one year are given to pregnant mothers and their children.
If the pregnant mother is a teenager of school age, she may be homeless because her parent(s) is (are) too angry to keep her. Several Sources Shelters provides shelter to such women, in an effort to discourage abortion. Mothers are able to stay for up to 12 months, free of charge, after the birth of their children.
Prospective mothers receive training in –
- Pre-natal child care
- Homemaking and
- GED and other classes
This training is provided by members of staff, volunteers, and visiting nurses. School-age mothers are encouraged to attend high school until the final weeks of pregnancy, during which time they receive home tutoring. Some of the mothers even attend college.
Accommodation is provided for about six mothers and their babies, including one house mother. This arrangement allows caring and sharing women to provide a stable support system encouraging participation and cooperation among the dwellers. The mothers share their experiences through –
- Discussion groups
- Bible study, and
- Chastity Workshops.
Mothers are encouraged to share any problems and concerns they may have. Their own families are asked to write to and visit with them, and this is facilitated by separate family entrances at the shelters.
This organization is concerned with matters affecting a healthy pregnant mother. They believe that there are problems in the US maternity care system to which healthy pregnant mothers should not be subjected. They therefore feel that mothers should be given enough information to enable them to make informed decisions. One area of concern is the choice of a caregiver, which features two care models that appear to oppose each other. They are:
- The Midwifery Model of Care and
- The Medical Model of Care
The Midwifery Model of Care:
This model is practised by midwives, and has the following features:
- Focuses on health, wellness, and prevention
- Views labor and birth as normal physiological processes
- Has lower rates of using interventions
- The mother is encouraged to give birth
- Care is individualized.
The Medical Model of Care:
This model is practised by doctors, and its features are –
- Focus is on management of problems and complications
- Labor and birth are dependent on technology
- Has a higher rate of using interventions
- The doctor delivers the baby
- Care is routine.
Information is presented on the services a midwife offers to healthy pregnant women who are anticipating a normal birth. They include:
- Providing prenatal care
- Providing care during labor and the birth process
- Providing care after birth has occurred
- Keeping the mothers well informed and helping in decision making
- Trying to avoid unnecessary tests and treatments
- Making the mothers less likely to need interventions like a cesarean or an episiotomy and
- Supporting and encouraging breastfeeding.
Three types of midwives practice in the US. They are:
- Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs) – who are both trained nurses and midwives, having graduated from such a program. They are the most common type in the US, and are able to attend births in hospitals, out-of-hospital centers, and in women’s homes. CNMs can administer all the services mentioned above. They can either have their own practices or work with physicians, but are required to collaborate with physicians as necessary.
- Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) – may be midwives without being nurses, and can attend births in women’s homes and out-of-hospital centers, but not in hospitals. They can provide some of the services mentioned above.
- Certified Midwives (CMs) – who are new professionals in the health field and are currently only licensed in New York. Though not trained nurses, their education is close to that of a CNM, with background experiences as physician assistants, physical therapists, or other health practitioners.
Pregnancy resources for single mothers invariably involves information on nutrition sources, as nutrition is vital before, during, and after pregnancy and delivery, relating to both mother and child.
First Baby Mall
Pregnancy sources offering nutrition guidance for single mothers is very important as the mother is now eating for two persons. Nutrition is essential during pregnancy because whatever the mother consumes affects the developing baby physically and neurologically. Her consumption also determines the amount of energy the mother has during the pregnancy.
As the mother needs more calcium, iron, and protein, Juliet Mancino – a registered dietician – suggests the following guidelines to pregnant mothers when planning meals:
- 6 – 11 servings of grains – which are found in bread, rice, pasta, and cereal
- 3 – 4 servings of milk or milk products – as in milk, cheese, and yogurt
- 3 – 5 servings of vegetables
- 2 – 4 servings of fruits
- 3 servings of protein – found in meat, fish, poultry, nuts, and eggs
The amount of fats, oils, and sweets should be limited, she suggests.
Extra amounts of the following nutrients should be consumed during pregnancy:
- Calcium: An extra 400 mgs daily is required to help the fetus’ nervous system and skeleton to develop, and also to regulate its muscle contraction and blood coagulation. Calcium is best found in dairy products, but also alternately in dark leafy vegetables, broccoli, sardines, and salmon, as well as in orange juice, and calcium-fortified breads.
- Iron: This mineral is in high demand during pregnancy as it aids the increase of the mother’s blood volume, the normal development of the fetus’ circulatory system, and the iron in the baby’s own blood. Its sources are red meat, liver, dried beans, spinach, and enriched breads and cereals. A prenatal vitamin with iron supplement is also recommended, and should be consumed with food for enhanced tolerance of the vitamin.
- Folic Acid: This mineral helps the fetal tissue to grow, and prevents spinal trouble resulting from neural tube defects. Folic acid is found in green foods, melon and orange juice, as well as folic acid-fortified foods.
Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
This program makes nutrition counseling, nutritious foods, and referrals to health services and other social agencies available to eligible participants free of charge. It specifically targets low-income pregnant women, women who have just given birth, and women who are breastfeeding, along with infants and children five years old and younger. These participants have to be at risk for malnutrition, must be at a particular income level, and must be residents of the States to which they apply. For instance, the WIC program in Kentucky provides:
- Education and services relating to nutrition
- Breastfeeding education and promotion
- Food prescription of nutritious foods monthly, and
- Access to maternal, prenatal, and pediatric healthcare services.
The WIC program in Kentucky, like those in all the other States, saves lives and improves the health of women, infants and children who are at risk nutritionally. The program has resulted in
Improved birth outcomes and savings in health care costs:
- Pregnancies carried for longer terms
- Reduced premature deaths
- Lower incidences of infant birth weight problems
- Reduced deaths in infants
- Higher opportunities for receiving prenatal care, and
- Health care costs savings during the first 60 days after birth.
Improved diet and diet-related outcomes:
- Nutrient-rich diets resulting from higher intakes of iron, thiamin, niacin, vitamin C and vitamin B6, without increasing food energy intake.
- Intake of ten nutrients providing positive effects without adversely affecting fat or cholesterol.
- More effectively improves preschoolers’ consumption of key nutrients than food stamps or other cash income, and
- Significant decline in the iron deficiency anemia rate.
Improved infant feeding practices:
- Strengthening of WIC breastfeeding policy and program activities,
- Increased percentage of breastfeeding mothers in the hospitals,
- Increased percentage of WIC infants breastfeeding at six months of age, and
- High percentage of nonbreastfeeding infants receiving iron-fortified infant formula, recommended for the first year of life.
Immunization rates and regular source of medical care:
- A regular schedule of immunizations as recommended for children from birth to two years of age,
- Improved rates of childhood immunization, and
- Improved regular source of medical care.
Improved cognitive development:
- Improved vocabulary scores for the children of WIC participating mothers during pregnancy, and
- Significant improvement in memory for one year old and older children participating in WIC.
Improved Preconception nutritional status:
- Delivery of infants with higher average birth weights in subsequent pregnancies for women participating in WIC both during pregnancy and immediately after delivery, as opposed to prenatal only participants, and
- Higher hemoglobin levels in postpartum participants, and lower risk of maternal obesity at start of subsequent pregnancies.
Other improved outcomes:
- Increased likelihood of children having a regular medical care provider
- Improved growth rates.
The Adoption Foundation
A healthy pregnancy and delivery are usually assured if prenatal care in terms of appointment schedules and physical activity are engaged.
Prenatal doctor’s visits are essential in determining progress and detecting complications. If the pregnant mother is high risk, or complications are detected, very regular appointments will be scheduled. Appointments, however, for normal, healthy pregnancies are usually scheduled as follows:
- 1 – 6 months = once monthly
- 7 – 8 months = bi-weekly
- 9th month = weekly.
No longer are pregnant mothers encouraged to put their feet up and relax during pregnancy, unless the pregnancy is high risk. Healthy pregnant mothers are encouraged to exercise for two and a half hours weekly. These exercises include –
- Swimming and
- Other aerobic exercises.
This physical activity aims to –
- Reduce the likelihood of pre-term birth
- Reduce gestational diabetes
- Reduce postpartum depression
- Relieve stress and
- Build stamina for smooth labor and delivery.
Pregnancy resources for single mothers allow pregnant mothers to have knowledge of some of the areas requiring attention, as it relates to her and her unborn child.