Below is my interview with Laura Furey from Wellbeing Wild Magazine about women choosing solo motherhood.
As someone in the industry, would you say Solo Mothers By Choice (single women using sperm donors) are becoming more common?
Yes I think there has been a generational increase (in my mums generation this was unheard of or kept behind closed doors).
I think with the development of technology, accessibility to the technology, more liberal attitudes in society, media platforms that spread the news of these different kinds of “norms” in the family unit – all make for awareness of many more women choosing this path.
Dare I say a rising of feminism that has women of our time saying I can do this on my own. I am enough, that actually once fertilization has occurred there is technically no need for a male partner for survival of the baby.
You’ve obviously worked as a doula with lots of different women in different situations. Some have partners and others are single mothers. If a woman is solo, does this change the way you approach or prepare a woman for giving birth? If so, how?
Every woman is unique regardless of whether she is single or not.
I spend time thoroughly educating women not only about the process of birth and the hospital setting and clinical care system in which we birth in (Homebirth if a woman choses), but I also educate them about body balancing. We behave very differently in the modern world to the way we have evolved as human beings in the natural world, sitting at desks all day, crossing our legs, sitting in cars, relaxing in couches, wearing shoes with heels in pregnancy. A culture with an obsession with tight abs and pelvic floor tightening cause imbalances in the body and impact the way we birth. I see it all the time.
I get to know what is honey for a woman’s mind through many techniques, guided meditation, visualisations, affirmations, colour, breath work (pranayama), sensory distractions distorting pain messaging, acupressure, affirmations, yoga, active birth practices, the list goes on. I help her prepare her brain to drop into a relaxed state and that comes with time and practice. I may even be preparing her for a planned caesarean section birth, using some of the above techniques. None of this involves a partner.
My approach with each woman is to get to know her and understand what she needs to support her. If I was working with a woman with a partner, we would then do a partner session to empower her partner to support her but the work with the woman is the same. So, in that regard not a lot differs between a single woman or a woman with a partner.
When you work that closely with someone a bond and trust is formed – its sacred women’s work. It’s that trust and continuity of care that brings good outcomes.
The big difference with a woman doing this on her own is preparing for and supporting her post birth. How you begin that post-natal journey can depend enormously on the birth outcome. The smoother the Birth experience, physically and emotionally, whether that is vaginal or via c section the better the path into breastfeeding and Motherhood.
I have found that how involved I am post natally depends on the support system she has around her.
How important is it for a woman to have a support person with her while she gives birth and why?
Women are at their most vulnerable during birth. If a woman doesn’t have someone that knows her and understands her wishes and can advocate for her, the ownership of her birth can very quickly be taken away. Instead of the woman going with her body and her baby’s flow, she can end up in the hospitals flow. How much better is it that she can be in her flow in the hospital setting – that’s sometimes not easy to do without an experienced Doula. A Doula helps to ensure a woman is truly supported, respected and nothing is done without her consent. A Doula helps a woman own her birth no matter the outcome.
What sort of qualities or things should a pregnant woman look for in a birthing support person if she’s a single mother?
Take your time and see a variety of Doula’s. Choose someone that is local to you that you feel a connection with, and that shares your birth philosophies. No point engaging a Doula that prefers not to support women with an OB birthing in a private hospital, if that’s what you are wanting to do.
Choose someone that also offers other modalities you like, hypnobirthing, yoga, kahuna massage etc.
If you are on a tight budget a student Doula from the Australian Doula College is an amazing option. (I actually supported a single mum as one of my student births which was incredible).
What sort of advice or tips would you give a pregnant woman to help her prepare for pregnancy and labour as a single woman?
- Engage a Doula J
- Consider a post-natal Doula again a student Doula is a great option for post natal support for a fraction of the cost, if you are watching your dollars. It’s a great gift for your friends to all contribute to gift you instead of tonnes of newborn onesies.
- Do the work and the preparation it pays off – You must train the mind like any muscle that you call upon to support peak performance. Another Doula friend of mine says – you labour how you live, and I absolutely agree. If you are a naturally anxious person don’t expect to show up on the day and have a calm birth (again vaginal or c section).
- Prepare financially, you are the provider and the nurturer. The two roles combined are not always easy and there has to be compromise for balance.
- Don’t compare your journey to another mum’s. Own your choice and be proud
- You need your village, work out who that is and accept any help offered. If its not ask for it.
- Fill your freezer with meals by 37 / 38 weeks and ask your friends to do a meal train for you when your baby arrives. Warm easy to digest foods are best for healing and nourishment. Set your house up as if you aren’t leaving for 6 weeks. A post Natal Meal service is also incredible to set up – perhaps a suggestion for someone unsure of a gift. “Meals 4 Mummas” is the best!
- You won’t regret investing in a good baby carrier
- Looking after yourself is the best way to look after your baby. Find a good mums and bubs yoga class so you can meet other mummies and nourish your body and mind. It doesn’t matter if you have to feed your baby during the class just go, you will be so happy you did. Yoga is never a bad idea.
- You can’t force a baby to sleep, spending hours every day in the dark patting and shushing, trying to get your baby to sleep is not good for you or your baby.
- Intuition is learned. Seek support from people encouraging you to tap into your instinct rather than telling you what you should be doing with your baby.
- For the mums who breastfeed, learning how to feed lying down, and safely co-sleeping with your baby are great ways to help you both get more sleep.
You mentioned you’ve worked with solo mums before – (having had two babies before myself, I know those first few weeks after birth are crazy and emotional and hard) – How did they cope after the birth and is it any different with or without a partner do you think?
So many factors have come into play for the single women I have supported. Some have had family support that they loved, others not so keen on family involvement. Some had other kids to look after as well which adds a whole other dynamic.
Having a C section birth definitely makes things harder at the start and impacts ability to drive to appointments or to get groceries etc.
The mums I have supported and a few friends of mine that have taken this path have done amazingly well. They all say its tough, but they love it and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Danae is a Sydney birth doula and pregnancy support specialist. She works with families to provide guidance, information, emotional and physical support during pregnancy and birth.
If you have any questions about birth and pregancy support and her doula services, don’t hesitate to contact Danae directly.