Becoming a Single Parent by Choice. How to Conceive on Your Own.
Starting a family is a lifelong dream for many. But what happens if you haven’t found the right partner yet? Or perhaps you don’t even want a partner? The misconceptions around traditional family-building, romance, and completeness can make us feel like it’s indispensable to find —and wait for— the right person to come along. But this doesn’t have to be the case for everyone.
Remember, this is your journey and you get to decide how to navigate it.
In this article, we’ll explore the various reproductive technologies that empower you to conceive on your own—without having intercourse. We’ll cover things like what motivates people to pursue being a single parent in the first place, how it’s technically possible, and how to know if you’re ready to start the process.
The motivations behind becoming a single parent.
One of the primary reasons why individuals decide to get pregnant on their own is because of their age. For menstruating individuals especially, there is no denying the fact that fertility declines after 35, with conception becoming even more difficult in the run-up to perimenopause and menopause. This pressure to have a baby “before it’s too late” is a strong motivator for pursuing a solo pregnancy.
For others, the decision to get pregnant comes down to timing and control. Perhaps they do not see themselves ever having a long-term partner, but they still want to start a family. For these individuals, the timing of when to start a family may be aligned with their career goals or even the timelines of their extended family members. For example, they may consider trying at a time when their parents are able to support them through the process. Or, they may want to pursue a solo pregnancy when their siblings are also starting to have children.
Methods used to conceive on your own.
Please note that the below procedures require a sperm sample from a donor. This can be provided by a trusted friend or purchased from a sperm bank (also known as a cryobank).
In vitro fertilization (IVF)
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a procedure where eggs are collected from the ovaries, fertilized by sperm in a laboratory, and then transferred back to the uterus with the hope that it will attach itself to the uterus and begin the development process.
Intra-uterine insemination (IUI)
Intra-uterine insemination (IUI) is a procedure where sperm are placed directly in the uterus. This procedure must be completed around the time of ovulation when at least one egg is ready to be fertilized.
At home insemination
At home insemination involves injecting donor sperm directly into the body, typically using a syringe. There are a number of products and at-home insemination kits available to purchase online. At Mira, we offer an at-home insemination kit, available here.
Preparation: How to start planning your self-conception journey.
Before starting any pregnancy, it is absolutely critical to schedule a preconception checkup with your doctor. This is a time when your doctor can assess different aspects of your reproductive health, such as your menstrual cycle patterns, hormone levels, medications, family health history, and lifestyle habits.
In addition to checking in with your doctor, you can also start monitoring your reproductive hormones at home, too. For example, with Mira’s Clarity Bundle, you can monitor key fertility hormones such as follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), progesterone (PdG), and estrogen (E3G). Tracking and monitoring these hormones over time can give you insights into your fertile window, ovulation day, ovarian reserve, and overall reproductive health.
Improve your healthy habits
The best way to set your pregnancy up for success is by establishing a healthy pre-pregnancy lifestyle. Here are a few things to consider:
- Eat a well-balanced diet full of lean proteins, healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week.
- Keep your stress levels to a minimum by setting boundaries and prioritizing time for relaxation.
- Strive to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night to minimize stress and regulate body weight.
- Stop consuming harmful substances such as alcohol, tobacco, and non-prescription drugs.
Doctors also recommend taking a regular prenatal vitamin. This not only maximizes your chances of conception, but it also helps to reduce the risk of birth defects in early pregnancy.
Take an honest look at your finances
Having a baby not only takes an emotional and physical toll on your body, but it can also take a toll on your finances, too. This is true for any couple, and it’s especially true for single parents with a single source of income.
To set yourself up for success, make sure to consider the following questions:
- What is your parental leave policy at work?
- How much do you have in savings for emergencies?
- What is your health insurance policy?
- What is your budget for childcare?
- How much are you willing to spend on assisted reproductive technologies (i.e. IVF and IUI)
- How much do you plan to save/spend for your child’s education?
Once you are comfortable with your answers to the above questions, then you are ready to consider your reproductive options.
How to be sure that you are ready?
Even if your health and finances are in order, you still may be concerned about your readiness for starting a family on your own. Here are just a few additional considerations to make at each stage of the journey to parenthood.
During the TTC process:
- Am I committed to living a healthy lifestyle?
- How long am I willing to try to get pregnant?
- What will I do if I can’t get pregnant?
- Do I have access to a trusted midwife and/or OB/GYN?
- Do I know the signs of labor?
- Who, if anyone, would I want to attend my birth?
After birth and early parenthood:
- What support will I receive immediately following birth?
- What do I know about postpartum depression and what steps can I put in place to minimize my risk?
- What does my long-term childcare plan look like?
When planning a pregnancy, the importance of family support cannot be stressed enough.
According to Cryos International, an estimated 90% of single mothers get help from their families. If you do not have access to family support, consider seeking support from a nanny or childcare provider.
Legal risks of conceiving on your own
In addition to the financial and logistical considerations of having a child on your own, there are also legal considerations to make, too. This is because you will have to use a sperm donor to conceive, and it’s important to be aware of the risks regarding the parental rights of the donor.
Laws can vary by country and state, so it’s a good idea to consult a lawyer about your rights, the rights of your sperm donor, and the paperwork required to ensure that your parental rights are in order.