You’ve seen the symptoms, you’ve taken the pregnancy tests, and you’ve seen a doctor – you know without a doubt that you’re pregnant. But now you’re left with a host of new questions: Is this real? How did this happen? Where do I go for help? What am I going to do?
The answers you’re looking for are out there – and you don’t have to find them alone. The information on this page will give you the facts, guidance, and resources you need to take your first steps after discovering an unplanned pregnancy.
Coping with Unplanned Pregnancy
If you’ve just learned about your pregnancy, you might need some time to recover from a sense of whiplash – like you were moving in one direction only to be suddenly and abruptly turned around.
As you adjust to the news, here are a few of the things you can do before you decide what to do next. The advice here will help you learn how to cope with an unplanned pregnancy:
Accept Your Feelings
You are not expected to know how to accept an unplanned pregnancy right away. After receiving news of an unplanned pregnancy, you might be feeling a wide range of feelings that are positive, negative, or both. You may feel pressure from yourself or others to meet your pregnancy with joy and gratitude. In reality, emotions are more complicated than that. In fact, many women report feelings of ambivalence upon realizing they are pregnant.
There is no right or wrong way to feel after an unplanned pregnancy. You might still be in disbelief. You might be excited and terrified at the same time. Or you might be angry – at your partner, at yourself, or simply at the world. Not only are all of these emotions completely normal, but they will help you to decide what to do next.
Your loved ones can be a great source of strength as you are dealing with unplanned pregnancy. Some of the people you may decide to talk to about your pregnancy include:
- Family – Your family wants what is best for you, so give them a little time to process the news of your pregnancy. Let them know how much their support would mean to you in this time, and don’t be afraid to lean on them if they offer help.
- Close friends – Trusted friends can be there for you when you need an outside perspective, a temporary distraction, or simply a shoulder to cry on.
- The father – Depending on how active the father is in your life, this conversation may be brief or drawn-out. Keep his feelings in mind as you explain the news to him, and determine if you will be moving forward together or on your own.
Some people may be unsupportive of your situation or future decision, and you have the right to distance yourself from them. The only people who should be involved in your pregnancy are the ones who care about your wellbeing and will not judge you or pressure you into making a certain decision.
You can also find support from other people who know what you are going through. Consider some of the following resources:
- Unplanned pregnancy support groups – Local and online support groups are available for women in your position. See what options are available in your community.
- Unplanned pregnancy hotline – Some clinics and agencies accept calls 24/7, and they will counsel you about your options. You can also find help through texting and online.
Do I Have to Tell Others about My Pregnancy?
Alternatively, some women may wonder if they can – or should – keep their unplanned pregnancy a secret. While you should do whatever is best for your situation, hiding your pregnancy may leave you feeling isolated when there are many people who know exactly what you’re going through. Even if you have already made a decision, talking to others is often one of the best ways to deal with an unplanned pregnancy in the beginning stages.
Find a Professional
As you prepare to move forward, unplanned pregnancy advice from a professional can help you as much as friends and family, or even more. Many counselors, doctors, and women’s health advocates have met with women in the exact same position you are in right now, and their perspective may help you figure out what to do.
Here are some of the professionals you might decide to contact during this time:
- Women’s health clinics – Places like Planned Parenthood provide a variety of family planning services and information.
- Counselors – A counselor can be especially helpful if you don’t feel comfortable talking to people in your life about your pregnancy.
- Your doctor – Especially if you have a doctor that specializes in women’s health, he or she might be able to give you advice or point you toward people who can. Additionally, talk to your doctor about beginning prenatal care.
- Adoption agencies – Adoption agencies are staffed by social workers who can inform you about not just the adoption process, but all of your options.
When looking for professionals, be sure that they are credible and will provide you with accurate, unbiased information about all your options.
Unplanned Pregnancy Options
If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy, you have the option to terminate the pregnancy, place the child for adoption, or parent the child. As you come to a decision, you will have to ask yourself three things:
- Do I want to continue my pregnancy?
- Do I want to be a parent?
- Do I want to be a parent now?
In the following sections, you can find basic information on your unplanned pregnancy options.
Abortion – Do I Want to Continue My Pregnancy?
Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy through a medical or surgical intervention. In most cases, the process of obtaining an abortion is simple and safe for healthy women. However, an abortion can usually only be obtained up to 14 weeks into a pregnancy. Because this is a time-sensitive option, you should not delay seeking counseling if you are considering abortion.
Reasons Women Choose Abortion
- Pregnancy takes a great physical toll on a woman’s body, and you have the right to decide that you do not want to experience pregnancy and childbirth.
- Abortion maintains a woman’s privacy. While is it possible to hide a pregnancy, it is difficult and usually unrealistic.
- Some people have physically demanding lives or careers that would be hindered greatly by a pregnancy.
Questions to ask:
- Am I prepared for pregnancy and childbirth?
- How does an abortion work?
- Are there age requirements for abortion?
- Do I want to receive counseling?
- How much does an abortion cost?
Adoption – Do I Want to Be a Parent?
Adoption is the placement of a child with an adoptive family of your choice. If you do not wish to obtain an abortion but do not feel ready to be a parent, you can work with an adoption professional to find adoptive parents before the baby is born. Over the course of your pregnancy, you will have the opportunity to get to know the parents and determine what kind of relationship you want after the baby arrives.
Reasons Women Choose Adoption:
- Some women may be unable to raise a child, but they would like to help a family that is unable to have children.
- Women feel more comfortable choosing adoption today because they will be able to have a relationship with their child if they want.
- Adoption allows women to continue their education or career goals while providing the life they want for their child.
Questions to ask:
- Am I in the right position to raise a child?
- What kind of family do I want for my baby?
- How much would I want to see my baby after the adoption?
- Have I tried to talk to the baby’s father?
- Am I prepared to deal with grief and loss?
Parenting – Do I Want to Be a Parent Now?
Perhaps you’ve known that you wanted to have children someday, but you weren’t expecting that day to arrive so soon. If this describes your situation, you will have to decide whether or not now is the right time. Raising a child requires patience, love, and wholehearted commitment to being a parent.
Reasons Women Choose to Parent:
- Sometimes, women planned to have children at a later time, but after an unplanned pregnancy, they decide they have the means, ability, and desire to raise the child.
- Some women may have previously felt that they didn’t want children, but changed their minds once they realized they were pregnant.
Questions to ask:
- Am I ready to be a parent?
- Am I in the right home environment to raise a child?
- Can I afford to raise a child?
- Will I have to put my education or career on hold?
- Will I have the support I need to raise my child?
Resources for Pregnant Women
There are many places you can go for information, assistance, and additional resources that can help you. Here are a few other ways to find assistance as you deal with your unplanned pregnancy: