For many people, finding out they are pregnant is news to excitedly share with all of their loved ones. However, when you unexpectedly become pregnant, you may fear any “congratulations” will actually be harsher words, simply because you didn’t plan for this pregnancy.

Announcing an unexpected pregnancy can be nerve-wracking, and it’s not unusual to feel like you’ll “get in trouble,” no matter how old or independent you are. Your loved ones may have certain ideas about pregnancy and parenting that your situation doesn’t fit. You may be unmarried, younger than they’d like you to be, or simply not in the right place for an unplanned pregnancy at this time in your life.

You may be tempted to forgo announcing an unexpected pregnancy as long as possible, but having the support of your friends and family during this unanticipated time will be invaluable. Find a few tips for these difficult conversations below.

Preparing to Tell Others About Your Unplanned Pregnancy

First, when you are preparing for announcing an unexpected pregnancy, take all the time you need. This can be an uncomfortable conversation, no matter what your situation. Take the time to prepare what you are going to say (even practicing this conversation with yourself or a counselor) to ensure you are truly ready for the complexities that will come from telling parents and others about an unplanned pregnancy.

The most important thing to do is not to worry. At the end of the day, what to do about this pregnancy is your decision to make, and no one else’s opinion should make that decision for you. Stay strong and always do what’s right for you.

If you are anticipating negative reactions when announcing your unexpected pregnancy, prepare by thinking about the positives of the unplanned pregnancy option you have chosen. For example, if you are planning to raise your baby, think about why a child is a good thing for you. That way, you can explain these positives when someone questions your unplanned pregnancy and your decision.

Believe in yourself and remain calm during this discussion. You want to show your loved ones that you have maturely made the decision that is best for you.

Telling the Father About an Unplanned Pregnancy

One of the first people to inform of an unplanned pregnancy is the father of the baby. The father will not only have legal rights to the baby if you plan on parenting or choosing adoption, but he can also provide support and understanding through your unplanned pregnancy.

How you tell the father about your pregnancy will depend upon your relationship with him. Remember that your safety and well-being should always come first. Only have this conversation if you are comfortable that his reaction will not put you in danger.

Be ready for the possibility of an initial negative response from him. Just as you likely took time to accept your unplanned pregnancy, he will also need time to adjust to this unexpected news. If you have already chosen what to do next, lay out your decision-making process for him and ask him to be a part of it, if he can be supportive. Whether or not he chooses to be involved, remember that this is ultimately your choice.

For more guidance on telling the father, please contact an unplanned pregnancy counselor or similar professional.

Telling Parents About an Unplanned Pregnancy

Telling parents about an unplanned pregnancy can be one of the hardest conversations to have, especially if you are a woman who is still in high school or college. You may depend upon your parents — maybe even live at home — and the news of an unplanned pregnancy can make you feel like you’ve let them down.

Remember this: Your parents will always love you, no matter what you do. They may become upset at your news and even yell at you or question you, but they only want what is best for you. They will need time to process your news like everyone else. Only after they have done that will they be able to support you through whatever path you choose.

It can be tempting to try to hide your pregnancy from your parents, but they will get suspicious and likely find out in due time. Having their support as early as possible will be helpful. However, keep in mind that they may have their own ideas about what is best for you. It’s a good idea to identify which path is best for you before talking to them — and to be prepared to defend your decision. Although you may be dependent on them, this is your decision to make.

If you are older but perhaps not in the ideal situation to be pregnant, consider the same things. You are an adult, this is your decision, and even if your parents wished you were married or in a more stable position before being pregnant, they should support you in whatever way you want them to.

Telling Your Friends and Family About an Unplanned Pregnancy

When it comes to telling others about your unplanned pregnancy, who you do (and don’t) tell will be entirely up to you. Try to think about the friends and family who will be most supportive of your pregnancy and reach out to them, first.

You never have to give the details about an unplanned pregnancy unless you feel comfortable doing so. Friends and family who may not take the news well do not have to know about your pregnancy, especially if you are considering adoption or an abortion. The only people who should be included in your personal support team are those you trust.

Similar to when telling the father and your parents, understand that people may need time to react to and accept your unplanned pregnancy. They may ask insensitive questions or make ignorant comments, so prepare yourself for these. However, when you find the right friends and family to share your pregnancy with, these people can often be the most supportive during your unexpected journey.

For more guidance on announcing an unexpected pregnancy and finding a support system during this time, you can always reach out to a pregnancy center or an unplanned pregnancy counselor.