The Office for National Statistics reports that in 2019 there were 1.8 million single parents in the UK and these make up nearly a quarter of all families with dependent children. Of that 1.8 million, fewer than one in a hundred are teenagers, about 10% are single fathers, leaving the vast majority of over 1.6 million adult women who are single mothers. Taking the above into account, being a single mother is certainly not unusual.
We empathize with the fact that for single parent the going can sometimes be tough. In this IVI blog, we take a look at what type of support networks are available for single mothers, where to find advice on financial matters such as single mother benefits and treatment options for those single women who would like to consider starting their own family in a future.
Single mother support networks
Whether you are single by choice or by relationship breakdown, bereavement or other unavoidable circumstance may make a difference to how optimistic you feel about your situation. But the bitter truth is that life does pose challenges for single mothers that are often not so keenly felt in conventional two-parent families. In the UK, we have a great network of organisations set up specifically to support you with advice, information and a sense of community.
Gingerbread was set up to champion and enable single parent families to live secure, happy and fulfilling lives. They do this by providing detailed and comprehensive advice on diverse topics such as contact arrangements with your child’s other parent, child maintenance, legal help and responsibilities and benefit calculators. They also provide a free-to-join community where single mothers can chat in the online forum or locate a local group to join and meet up with other single parents for mutual support. Gingerbread is based in London and has over 80 local groups providing support throughout England and Wales.
Single Parent Action Network and its successor organisation singleparents.org.uk provide support and online training for parents raising children alone. They have a wide range of online information from housing to health and wellbeing to relationships, holidays and schooling. Regional offices throughout the UK provide local information, helplines and discussion forums.
Only Mums is a not-for-profit organisation focusing on supporting families through separation. It provides information and advice on finance, law and mediation, domestic abuse and courts, child custody and other related relationship breakdown issues. It has a search facility to find a solicitor, barrister or mediator locally. Only Dads is part of the same organisation, offering the same services for men.
Mumsnet is a well-established and well-respected support organisation for parents. It is not specifically supporting single mums, but it does include advice and chat forums on topics aimed at single mothers on issues such as single mother benefits, university as a single parent and a lot more. It also has advice and discussions about fertility, conception, pregnancy and of course parenting.
The National Childbirth Trust is the UK’s largest charity for parents. It has always been strongly associated with support during pregnancy, childbirth and early years, but it also acts as a gateway to a network of information and local groups that can provide practical and emotional support.
Single mother financial support
There’s no doubt that bringing up a child or children alone and juggling the competing demands of work, childcare arrangements and family time often presents major financial challenges. In the UK there is no specific support for single mothers but there is plenty of advice and information available for everyone, including single parents who are struggling financially. Citizens Advice has a long-standing reputation as an accessible and impartial source of advice on your rights, finding your way through the benefits system, legal matters and work regulations. It’s a good first port of call for anyone struggling with finances or debt.
Single mother fertility options
The desire for parenthood, which for many people feels more like an absolute biological imperative than a mere whim, does not discriminate on the basis of relationship or financial status. Many single women decide to go ahead anyway.
Intrauterine insemination (IUI)
IUI is a well-established technique consisting of depositing a semen sample previously prepared in the laboratory, inside the woman’s uterus at the right time after the ovulation. This optimizes the chances of the sperm meeting the egg increasing the likelihood of conception. This technique is mostly used for single womenand same-sex couples using donor sperm. However, it can also be used in couples with a severe male factor or no production of sperm. At IVI, this is how the process works: Ovarian stimulation takes place over 10 to 12 days to stimulate the ovaries to produce more than one egg per cycle.
- During this time ultrasound scans are used to monitor the cycles and choose the right time to induce the ovulation.
- Finally, 36 hours after triggering the ovulation, the intrauterine insemination takes place by placing the sperm inside the uterus is a painless procedure that does not require anaesthesia.
For a fuller picture of how the process works, have a look at our YouTube video about intrauterine insemination.
In vitro fertilization (IVF)
This is another option that some single women might want to consider after their fertility assessment when seeking fertility advice (i.e. women with advanced maternal age, endometriosis…). IVF is a more complex option by which, following a stimulation treatment, the eggs are extracted with a surgical procedure to create embryos in the laboratory by mixing these with the sperm. After few days, the embryos obtained can be placed inside a woman’s uterus for the implantation.
Get in touch with us at IVI
If you are a single mother looking for information and support, we hope the information provided about support services available will be helpful. If you’re a single woman who would like to become a mother, do get in touch. Single parenthood has its challenges, but for many people, the joy of motherhood outweighs them all.