Being a young mom is a life-changing experience that can be conflicting, anxious, and filled with heart-warming episodes. Society might not be open-minded, however, it does not mean you cannot overcome whatever that is coming your way.
A 19-year-old girl and her boyfriend were sitting in front of the physician, praying so hard inside her that only one line will be showing on the pregnancy kit.
That was my first experience with a pregnancy kit and the first time I went to a Chinese physician for women.
I could hear my heart pounding so hard against my chest, I thought I would be seeing it on the table at any moment then.
The fear and anxiety were so surreal.
And then, the moment of truth.
“Congratulations, you are pregnant.”.
Oh, man. We’re so screwed.
We looked (more like starred) at the physician, probably paler than the cauliflower.
And that is how our journey begins.
But I wish there were information that I knew to help make the pregnancy plain sailing.
1. You are not alone
Being pregnant while your friends are studying and partying away can be a demoralizing feeling.
No one understands what you are going through, you feel that embarrassment is eating you up. Many times, your world becomes engulfed with darkness.
And you have no one to turn to because you are the odd one out.
It is very easy to have these negative thoughts, but you have to know that there are many more young moms out there in Singapore.
Through a little digging, although the numbers of young moms have dropped over the years, we are still looking at a 3-digit figure, which means you are not alone!
Societal support is very important to maintain a healthy pregnancy and mental state, which brings us to the next point.
2. Seek out support groups
There are many support groups for young moms and first-time moms. Whenever you are feeling down, these support groups are very important to keep you in check.
If you feel like you are spiraling down the anxiety or depression stairway, you can always reach out to professionals for help. Our government has been providing great support to help moms (young or single) cope with pregnancy and motherhood. And some of these organizations have subsidies for moms in financial need.
Do not ever feel like you are useless or weak if you think you need a counselor or therapist. They are there to listen and guide you through your dark days.
3. Discuss and be open with your partner
Raising a child requires time, money, and communication.
Both of you need to be in sync with your methods of bringing up the child, do your financial planning, and be open to discussions. Try not to feel that your partner is attacking when he offers feedback or objectives.
While you do not have to follow your numbers down to the cents, it will be good to have a plan of the priorities for the pregnancy.
Luckily, many items can be bought second-handed or blessed by other moms. Gynae visits can be subsidized by getting a referral from a polyclinic doctor.
However, money aside, what happens if your partner does not want to take responsibility for the baby?
Then it will be up to you to make the final decision if you want to raise the child single-handedly or terminate the pregnancy.
4. To Abort or To Keep
This decision should be between you and your partner so try to involve as few people as possible. The more opinions you get, the more confusing you will be.
That little bean growing in your belly belongs to both of you, hence both parties need to come to a final decision.
When we found out about the pregnancy, I was determined to keep my little bean. I could not bear to vacuum it out of me, knowing that it is breathing and baking inside. I got to admit, the thought of keeping the baby is legit scary.
But here are some of the questions you might want to consider aiding your decision,
1. Will your partner be taking the responsibility or are you doing this on your own?
2. Are both of you willing to sacrifice and work hard to care for the baby?
3. Do you have external help when the baby is born?
4. Can you accept hand-me-down clothes, toys, prams, etc?
5. Private gynecology visits might not be your best option, are you willing to take the government subsidies which do not come with a regular gynecologist?
6. It will be a rocky road from now on, are both of you willing to support each other and learn together?
7. Will you have a place to stay, or will you be asked to move out if you decide to keep the baby?
8. Are you willing to seek professional help or social welfare if you have difficulties should you decide to keep the baby?
5. You do not need to get married immediately because of the baby
Many couples tie the knot ‘out of responsibility’ or ‘because there is no choice’ when they find out about the baby.
2 years later, they sign the divorce paper.
If you or your partner is not ready to settle down, don’t force yourself to do just that.
Neither of you will be happy, eventually, it becomes torture for everyone.
As much as I agree that dad needs to be responsible for the baby as well, you will be fine on your own.
6. Don’t be shy to accept support
Breaking the news to your parents is one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome. “What if they kicked me out of the house?”, “What if they disowned me?” are just some of the scary thoughts going through your mind.
Regardless, you will still have to inform them that they are going to grandparents soon. And probably seek forgiveness. Most parents (like my dad) would be displeased at the initial stage, but acknowledged your mistake, inform them of your plans, and get them involved in the newborn’s arrival. As time goes by, your parents will accept the new arrival and you will be more worried about them over pampering the baby.
Just be prepared that there will lot of naggings and (unpractical) advice coming your way but be grateful that they are there to give their support.
7. Be prepared to lose friends
Friends will also have divided opinions about your pregnancy.
This is the period when you know who your true friends are. Some will tell you that you are ruining your life, while others will lend you a shoulder to cry on and bring your nutritious food.
Those who are sitting on the fence will slowly drift away from you.
It is alright to have a small group of friends who will provide the moral and mental support you need during this pregnancy. Always remember that some friends are worth keeping while others are better not to have around. Don’t turn away all your friends or hide away from them out of fear. You don’t need to hide in a cave because of the little bean in your tummy.
8. Don’t be afraid of others’ judgments
No matter what you do, people will always be judgemental and harsh. So why bother to entertain their comments?
Your belly is growing bigger, it is starting to show. You can no longer hide that little bump of yours, and people are going to be talking behind your back. Some (thick-skinned) people will ask you upfront if you are pregnant, and from my experience, admit it.
I used to shun away from people when I was pregnant because I was embarrassed, and I did not need additional salt to my broken pride.
Later I realized that there might, believe it or not, be some who are jealous of you. That person might be trying for the longest time to conceive, but we are not laughing at them, we empathize with them.
So, move away from these toxic people, they do not deserve your time or emotions, And your baby does not need to hear negativity, play some Mozart music for your little beanie instead.
9. Listen to your body, not your stubborn mind
Being young and reckless (just admit it), you may think you know it all and want to be right all the time.
As much as your pride wants to prove everyone wrong, sometimes you need to listen to advice and, your body.
Your body is changing constantly to adjust to the baby’s needs. Not only that, your hormones and senses are changing too. You might like food that you used to dislike, and you find that you might not be able to go around as much as you used to. These are all part of the body changes, and it is ok to rest awhile if you need to. Don’t be alarmed by these changes or have the thought that others will laugh at you for being slow.
10. Continue to do what you are passionate about
You do not have to sacrifice your youth just because you are having a baby, although everyone seems to be singing the tune this way. It is a good thing that you are having a child at a young age. Continue to strive for your dreams and passions, whether it is going back to school or pursuing a job.
Never use being pregnant or having a child as an excuse to yourself for procrastinating. If you are in your 40s and you have worked your way up to where you want to be, it is understandable to slow down when the baby is born. Time is never on your side, so while you are still young and energized, put that to good use while looking after your child.
With hybrid work schedules and an increasing number of understanding employers, you can try discussing your work hours with your manager. When you have a goal in mind, being pregnant will just be a weight that you carry around. Literally.
If you are a young mom who is as lost as I was, I hope that these 10 tips will prepare you better for what is to come physically and mentally.
Becoming a mom at 20 had opened my eyes in all ways possible. The motivation for writing this article magnifies because I wished that I had some guidance and advice when I was pregnant at 19. I had just lost my mom and my dad was just as disoriented as I was. As a result, I had no one to turn to for advice. I turned away from all my friends because I thought that everyone was judging and pitying me, however, I later found out that that was not the case.
Many wanted to give a helping hand but were afraid that I will be offended!
If you want to share with me your journey or have questions that I might be able to help with, feel free to leave me a DM on my Instagram! No matter what you are going through, you can get through this phase and have a sweet ending with your little bundle of joy. Hang in there!