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Single and Pregnant? 10 Questions to Ask Yourself

Thinking About Raising Your Child as a Single Mom? Answer These Questions First

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Are you pregnant and single? You're not alone. Of the 6,000,000 pregnancies occurring the U.S. each year, single women facing an unplanned pregnancy make up approximately one-third*. If this reflects your situation, and you'd like to keep your baby, you may feel overwhelmed with questions. The good news is that you don't have to make every decision today. Take some time to think through the following questions as you prepare to raise your child as a single mother.

1. Does my baby's father want to be involved?

Make sure that you don't answer this question for your child's father. Let him decide whether he'd like to have an active role in your child's life. If you have concerns about what that might look like, consider taking a parenting class together (or separately) at a local community center.

Related Resource: What Are the Father's Rights?

2. If he does want to be involved, what will our parenting plan look like?

Now is the time to begin thinking about custody and visitation. In most states, if you are unmarried at the time of your child's birth, you will have what is known as "presumed custody." However, if your child's father is to be truly included, you will both need to think about setting up a regular visitation schedule. Drafting a formal parenting plan will help you address these issues ahead of time.

Related Resource: Sample Parenting Plan Worksheets

3. What last name will I give my child?

In most states, you can give your child your last name or the baby's father's last name. Some moms prefer the consistency of giving their children their own last name. Others prefer the more traditional system of giving the child the father's last name. Keep in mind that the last name you choose is not a factor for the courts in determining custody, should there ever be a dispute.

4. Will my baby's father's name be listed on the birth certificate?

Consider whether you will take the steps necessary to have the father's name listed on your baby's birth certificate. In most states, the process for including his name is made easier if he can be present at the baby's birth and sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity form right there at the hospital. If this is not possible, he can sign the form later and a new birth certificate with his name on it can be issued at a later date.

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5. Can I support the baby on my own?

As a single, pregnant woman, you need to to take a good look at your finances. Raising a baby is costly. That certainly doesn't mean it's not doable; but you'll want to have a realistic impression of your financial status from the beginning. Knowing how much you need to earn each month will help you determine whether you need to change jobs, relocate, or reduce your monthly expenses.

Related Resource: Budget Calculator for Single Parents

6. Will I file for child support?

This is an intensely personal decision. Realize that even though you may be thinking about this issue right from the beginning, you can file for child support at any time. If you do file, the state will take steps to confirm paternity and establish a rate of child support that corresponds with the father's income. Know as well that the state will require you to file for child support before allowing you to file for government assistance.

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7. What changes do I need to make in my life as I prepare for the birth of my baby?

Most likely, this will include paring down financially to accommodate for the cost of caring for your child. In addition, you may also be thinking of relocating to a more affordable or desirable neighborhood. At the same time, there are health-conscious decisions to consider, such as giving up smoking or making an effort to eat better during your pregnancy.

Related Resource: Methods of Coping With Ongoing Stress

8. Who is in my personal support network?

Especially if you don't have family members nearby to help you, you'll want to be intentional about building a network of support to get you through the challenging times ahead. Identify the people in your life that you can count on.

Related Resource: Creating a Network of Support

9. How can I best take care of myself now as I prepare for the arrival of my baby?

Taking care of a newborn is extremely taxing and stressful. Be mindful of doing what you can now, before the baby is born, to prepare yourself emotionally and physically for the demands ahead. This may include getting some extra sleep, taking steps to reduce your stress level, and surrounding yourself with supportive, caring people.

Related Resource: 30 Things Can Do to Take Care of Yourself as a Single Parent

10. Where will I turn when I have questions or feel unsure of what I'm doing?

As you develop that much-needed support system, you're probably going to identify a few moms and dads who impress you with the way they relate to their own babies, or experienced parents who seem to know just the right thing to say. Consider how you can cultivate relationships with these individuals, who can serve as your personal mentors for the journey ahead.

Related Resource: Visit the About.com Forum for Single Parents

*Source: "Unplanned Pregnancy in the United States." The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. N.p., May 2008. Web. 11 Jan. 2010. <http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/resources/pdf/briefly-unplanned-in-the-united-states.pdf>.

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