Accidentally getting a girl pregnant is probably the last thing you ever expected — or wanted — at this time in your life. However, here you are, reeling from the news that the woman you have slept with is pregnant with your baby.

It does not matter whether this woman is your wife, a long-term girlfriend, a casual partner or even a one-night fling. As the father of her baby, you must take responsibility for your actions. Both of you made the adult decision to have sex with each other, and now you must face the consequences together.

For many men, dealing with an unplanned pregnancy can seem like the end of their life as they know it. This doesn’t have to be the case. You and the woman you have impregnated with always have options for your unplanned pregnancy, but it’s important that you discuss this situation in detail before moving forward.

If you’re asking, “She is pregnant — what do I do and how do I talk to her about it?” find some tips below for this important conversation.

1. Take a Deep Breath.

People often wonder how to deal with an unplanned pregnancy. For men and women alike, it’s important to stay calm. An unplanned pregnancy is a frightening and overwhelming situation; you may be feeling angry at yourself and her, worried about your future, and completely unsure of what to do. Remember that you are in this journey together. Do not take your feelings out on each other; take a deep breath and try to approach this circumstance as a team.

You may be reading this article after the expectant mother told you about her pregnancy — and you may be ashamed of how you acted. Rather than looking at the situation rationally, you may have jumped to emotional conclusions and said things you didn’t mean.

Think about how your reaction may have affected her. She is probably just as frightened as you, and if you responded negatively, it likely didn’t help the circumstances. If this is the case, take responsibility for your actions, apologize and give yourselves another chance to discuss what to do about your unplanned pregnancy.

2. Don’t Make it All About You.

When you first learn about accidentally getting a girl pregnant, your thoughts will first go to how this will affect your life: I need to get a job, I’m going to have to quit school, I’m going to have to cancel my traveling plans.

While it’s perfectly normal to focus on how this pregnancy will affect you, remember that it will affect the expectant mother, too — even more so, as she is the one to physically experience the pregnancy. If you choose to focus on yourself, she will understandably feel abandoned and unimportant in this situation.

This news of an unexpected pregnancy can be devastating, but remember that you are both affected by this situation — and you should approach it as a united front.

3. Ask Her How She’s Feeling.

On the same note, taking the mother’s feelings into account can be done by simply starting with a simple question: How are you feeling?

This question opens up the conversation for her to lead moving forward. It’s an empathetic query that allows her to express her complicated emotions, her initial thoughts and ask for your opinion, too. This will give you the chance to collect your own thoughts (as long as you listen to her answer at the same time!) and understand better where she is at in her decision process and what she desires from you as the man in her unplanned pregnancy.

Starting with a non-judgmental, open-ended question will help inspire a positive conversation, rather than one that points blame at each other and results in no productive solutions.

4. Understand What Your Options Are.

Whether a woman has indicated she has made a choice about her unplanned pregnancy or she is still deciding, it’s crucial that you understand your unplanned pregnancy options, too. Men dealing with unplanned pregnancy have just as much input in the decision as the woman but, keep in mind that because a woman will be the one carrying the child, she will have the ultimate decision.

If you’re looking for unexpected pregnancy advice for men, consider these questions about each of your options moving forward:

Parenting:

  • Can you afford to raise a child? Are you ready to take on a new job or extra shifts to afford this new member of your family?
  • Are you ready to put aside some of your personal dreams for the best interest of your child?
  • Are you prepared to marry this woman? Or to co-parent this child without getting married?
  • Are you willing to take parenting classes to learn more about raising a child?

Abortion:

Adoption:

  • Do you understand how adoption works today?
  • Are you prepared to legally sign away your parental rights to your child?
  • How involved do you want to be in the process: in helping to choose a family, having a relationship with your child as they grow up, supporting the mother through her pregnancy, etc.?
  • Are you willing to speak with the expectant mother to an adoption counselor?

Only after you fully understand your options can you have a productive conversation about what to do after accidentally getting a girl pregnant.

5. Create a Plan Together.

It takes two to cause an unplanned pregnancy — and you two should both be involved in the situation moving forward. As tempting as it can be to walk away, it’s important that you man up, take responsibility for your actions and work with the expectant mother to create a plan that’s best for you both.

You both should answer these questions:

  • Where do you see yourself in five years? Will raising a baby interfere with those plans?
  • Do you see this relationship lasting? Are you ready to commit to a long-term connection by having a baby together?
  • What are your gut reactions to finding out about this unplanned pregnancy? Is there room for reconsideration?
  • What can you do to help each other through this process?

It’s crucial you answer these questions and have an open conversation before creating a plan. That way, you can ensure that both your and the woman’s needs and wants are addressed — creating a more positive, cooperative path moving forward.

It can be a difficult situation for men dealing with an unplanned pregnancy if the woman chooses a path they do not agree with. If this is your situation, honestly try to see the situation from her perspective. Explain why you would prefer she choose other paths — and offer up support. For example, if you are against abortion but do not wish to support her through her pregnancy or childbirth, you can see where she might not take your opinion into account.

Remember this: The decision is ultimately up to the woman who will carry the pregnancy for nine months. It is your duty to support her, whatever she chooses.

6. Give Her the Support She Wants.

Once a woman has made her choice, move forward by asking her what support she needs from you. Whether she wants you intimately involved in her abortion, adoption, pregnancy or parenting (or not), offer your support and respect her wishes.

She may wish for you to be there during her doctor’s appointments or have you be involved in the adoption process. If she chooses to parent, she may want you to have a presence in your child’s life. Keep in mind, as a biological father, you will likely be legally required to pay child support if you do not wish to be involved in your child’s life.

It can be difficult to overcome your personal wishes in an unplanned pregnancy, but take responsibility and be there to assist the expectant mother however you can.

7. Learn from Your Experience.

Whatever else results from you accidentally getting a girl pregnant, you will learn life lessons. Take these to heart to avoid another concerning situation like this.

Always use multiple forms of birth control to avoid unwanted pregnancy, and maybe think more about the potential ramifications of sex before you engage in this action. We’re not here to encourage you to abandon all casual sex; just take more precautions before doing so.

This experience may also teach you a bit about yourself and what you want in your life. Do you really wish to be a parent? When do you want to have a child? What do you want to accomplish before another pregnancy?

For more unexpected pregnancy advice for men and to find more resources, consider speaking with an unplanned pregnancy counselor.