OB-GYN Care for Single Moms
A quick look at single motherhood care
8.5 million families are headed by single mothers, whether by choice or unplanned circumstances, and 4 out of 10 children are born to unwed mothers.
We understand the unique issues single moms face in pregnancy, delivery and postpartum, and we provide care attuned to their individual needs.
For single women who want to start a family on their own – a rapidly growing number – a preconception appointment gives them a chance to discuss plans and challenges with their OB-GYN.
We can identify fertility issues and lifestyle changes to improve the chances of conception, as well as counseling on methods of conceiving without a male partner.
For any pregnant single mom without a partner, using a doula can be especially beneficial to provide support throughout pregnancy, birth and postpartum.
Care after giving birth is crucial for single mothers to ensure proper support, both physically and emotionally.
As of 2016, 8.5 million families were headed by single mothers, according to the United States Census Bureau. These women, who may find themselves pregnant without the support of the child’s father or became single moms by choice, face certain challenges during pregnancy and postpartum. Access to compassionate OB-GYN care and resources can help address these difficulties.
Single mothers are a considerable portion of all mothers, with the National Vital Statistics Reports showing that 4 out of 10 children were born to unwed mothers. About two-thirds of those mothers are under age 30. There were about 195,000 births by teen moms in 2017. Of those teen mothers, 89% were unmarried, according to the Pew Research Center.
Behind each of these numbers is a personal story, which may include emotional pain and difficult circumstances. Our physicians understand the particular needs of single mothers and offer a welcoming bond based on personalized, expert medical care during pregnancy, labor & delivery, and postpartum.
Single mothers by choice
While there are little data or statistics on the topic, the physicians at CU Medicine OB-GYN East Denver (Rocky Mountain) see an increasing trend of women becoming single mothers by choice. This is due to societal changes in attitudes toward single parenthood as well as LGBTQ parenthood. The decision to become a single mother is one that can involve utilizing donor sperm, intrauterine insemination and a fertility specialist.
If this is the case, once the woman becomes pregnant, she will return to our OB-GYNs for prenatal, pregnancy, delivery and postpartum care.
Below are elements of pregnancy care any single mother needs to be familiar with. Additional considerations and services for single moms by choice follow.
Preparing for pregnancy
For any woman trying to conceive, a preconception appointment is advised. During this appointment her healthcare provider can discuss the woman’s overall health as well as advise on any lifestyle changes that may improve conception and fetal development.
Choosing an OB-GYN Before Pregnancy and Birth
It’s critical, whenever possible, to start the conversation and develop a trusting relationship with an obstetrician-gynecologist before pregnancy. Like many important relationships in life, finding the right OB-GYN requires time and consideration.
Prenatal care overview
Prenatal care with OB-GYN consultations, pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and labs are an essential aspect of pregnancy care. Single mothers will be handling all of this without a partner to help, so we make extra efforts to ensure they have the knowledge they need and the personalized care we can provide in this critical time of pregnancy.
Labor & delivery decisions
Single mothers, and all new moms, have many considerations to take into account before the birth. At CU Medicine OB-GYN East Denver (Rocky Mountain), we place a high value on educating patients, answering any and all questions or concerns an expectant mother may have.
Single mothers experience labor and delivery without a partner to help them through it with emotional support. Our physicians, nurses and other staff members strive to provide support similar to that of family members and friends.
While the baby may have different plans, we are open to a woman’s requests and preferences about the birth experience. For some women, this may mean an unmedicated, or natural, birth. Others may plan a cesarean section (C-section) due to health concerns or pregnancy complications.
A doula is a nonmedical person who can support a patient throughout her pregnancy, during labor and delivery, and sometimes at home after delivery. Doulas have training and expertise to help a patient feel more empowered and comfortable with her pregnancy and delivery. Partnering with a doula can be very beneficial support for single mothers. Single mothers can build very rewarding bonds with their doula.
Doulas can also work alongside a woman’s OB-GYN during the delivery process. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recently released a statement indicating there is evidence to suggest that continuous emotional support, like that provided by a doula, coupled with regular nursing care, is associated with improved outcomes for women in labor. Read our blog from a Rose Medical Center doula with more than 30 years of experience for more information.
Becoming a single mother by choice
For women who choose to become single moms, there are many factors to consider. Primarily, these involve how to get pregnant without a partner.
Sperm donors may be known or anonymous to the woman. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) guidelines, all sperm donors should be tested for sexually transmitted diseases and genetic disorders.
For known donors, the sperm is collected, frozen and quarantined for six months, after which time it is tested once more for transmissible diseases. This six-month quarantine is recommended by both ASRM and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Additionally, it is recommended that sperm donors undergo a psychological evaluation and counseling.
Women who choose to use anonymous sperm donation may utilize a sperm bank. A fertility specialist will be able to connect patients with credible sperm bank organizations.
Egg or embryo donation
Some women may choose to use, or need to use, donor eggs or embryos for pregnancy. For those utilizing an egg donor, the woman will have to take hormone medication to prepare the uterus for implantation. The egg will be fertilized with donor sperm and transferred into the uterus.
Intrauterine insemination (IUI)
This fertility treatment is a form of artificial insemination, which places the sperm inside the woman’s uterus. Ovulation stimulation medication may be used during this process. The procedure is painless and can be performed in-office at a fertility specialist’s clinic. According to the American Pregnancy Association, success rates for IUI may be as high as 20% per cycle depending on certain variables.
Helpful Pregnancy Resources: Websites & Books
We hope to be your go-to source for not only your pregnancy care but also your pregnancy and conception questions along the way.
Caring for the mother after giving birth is critical, not just for single mothers, but all moms. Pregnancy causes significant changes to the body, which continues to change postpartum. Some women may experience soreness, hair loss, hemorrhoids or other physical symptoms days and weeks following the baby’s birth.
There are emotional changes that can occur after birth, including anxiety, mood changes and postpartum depression. About 85% of new mothers experience some emotional turmoil postpartum, while 15% of new moms suffer from postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression can be caused by an unplanned pregnancy or lack of support in caring for the baby. It is critical for single mothers to have support and a trusted relationship with their OB-GYN to discuss any emotional problems in these crucial weeks after giving birth. Postpartum depression is often noticed by the woman’s partner, which makes it even more important for single moms and our OB-GYNs to be on the lookout for signs.
Postpartum depression is not the same as the baby blues. This is a more severe mood disorder affecting the mother’s mental health and may be experienced any time after birth and through the first year of motherhood.
Additional resources for single moms
Here are some recommended resources that can help single moms become educated, prepare for pregnancy and specific challenges, as well as raise children as a single parent.
BabyCenter.com boasts a website that reached more than 100 million people monthly and is the number one digital parenting resource. The website has informative content on everything from pregnancy to parenting teens. Additionally, it supports an active community of parents, and specifically single mothers.
JustMommies.com offers an online resource and community for parents. This site provides educational information on getting pregnant, raising kids and more. The forum, which requires a membership, from JustMommies connects moms to share their experiences and advice.
Single Mothers by Choice
For more than 35 years, Single Mothers by Choice has provided information and support to single moms. With local chapters and an online forum, there is plenty of information available from women who have become single parents.
University of Colorado Advanced Reproductive Medicine
CU Advanced Reproductive Medicine patients have access to a full range of fertility services, including fertility testing, IUI, IVF, donor sperm, donor eggs and embryos.