Anyone experiencing an unplanned pregnancy will have many thoughts and questions about how to make the right choice for them — but if you are facing an unexpected second or third pregnancy, you will also have to think about your other children. Should you tell them about your pregnancy? What will you say?

Your children can benefit greatly from open and honest conversation about your situation, whether it’s an unwanted second pregnancy, unplanned third pregnancy or even an unplanned fourth pregnancy. Remember, your choice will affect their lives, as well.

This page will provide you with advice for talking about your unplanned pregnancy and options when you already have kids — and to determine how to move forward from here.

Talking Over Time

The news of your pregnancy will affect your children, but exactly how will depend on their age, maturity level and your own feelings about the pregnancy. Children are more perceptive than we give them credit for; your own excitement (or lack of) about your unwanted second pregnancy or third pregnancy will shape their own feelings about this situation.

The conversation about your pregnancy is not a one-and-done. Your children will have questions about pregnancy that may take time to arise. You may find your initial announcement is accepted readily, only to be approached by your children weeks after wanting more details.

As you begin talking to your children about an unplanned second or third pregnancy that you are facing, consider the following:

  • Keep it age-appropriate – Be careful not to give your children more information than they can comprehend at their age. As they grow, they will come to understand more and more about your pregnancy.
  • Let your child come to you – Some children will have a lot of questions for you about your pregnancy, while others may not be as interested in talking. Be open to conversation without forcing it.
  • Be accurate – While you don’t want to give your child too much information, it is important to talk to them in the correct terms. By using the proper language from the beginning, you and your children will not have to feel embarrassed when talking about sex and pregnancy.
  • Wait until you are ready – You need time to process your pregnancy and understand your feelings before you can have a conversation with your children about it.

How your conversation with your children will proceed will also depend on what option you are planning to pursue.

If You Are Considering Abortion

It is up to you to decide if you should talk to your children about abortion as the path for your unexpected second or third pregnancy. How you address this issue will depend on your personal values, your child’s age, and how much you feel comfortable sharing.

If you do decide to talk to your children about an abortion, make sure you first take the time to cope with any feelings of grief you may have. When you give the news to your children, you want to be ready and available to help them with whatever feelings they have. Answer their questions openly and honestly, but don’t give them more information than they can handle.

More and more women are talking with their children about abortion starting at a young age, which can help to decrease the stigma surrounding it. Additionally, beginning the conversation at a young age can help children understand the complex issues of family-building and family-planning.

If You Are Considering Adoption

I’m pregnant with my second child, and I don’t want it.

I’m pregnant with a second child and I’m not excited.

These are very normal thoughts for any mother facing an unplanned (or even planned) pregnancy to have. If these phrases have crossed your mind, you may consider placing your new baby for adoption.

When thinking about adoption, it’s easy to imagine the stereotype of the teenage mother — but the truth is that many birth mothers are older and have other children. Here are some of the things you might want to consider when talking about adoption:

  • Explain how adoption works – Adoption can be a very confusing concept for younger children. It won’t all make sense right away, but you can give them more information over time.
  • Address your child’s insecurities – Sometimes, the adoption of a birth sibling can make a young child unsure of his or her place in the family. Assure your children you love them as well as the baby you are placing for adoption.
  • Be open to talking about the child you are placing – Even though your adopted child will not live with you, he or she will play a role in your family. By talking freely about adoption, your children will grow to be comfortable talking about it early on.

If you choose adoption as a path for your unexpected second or third pregnancy, understand what kind of open adoption communication you are comfortable with. Many times, giving your children the chance to say goodbye to their sibling or get to know their sibling as they grow up can make the separation and grief of the process easier.

If You Are Considering Parenting

An unplanned second pregnancy (or third or fourth pregnancy) doesn’t always mean it is an unwanted second pregnancy. You may decide that, despite the inconvenience of the timing, you want to raise this child, too.

Once you find out that your children are going to have a brother or sister, it is time to start preparing for the new addition to the family. Here are some of the ways you can help your kids adjust, and know what to expect yourself:

  • Let them know how things will change – A new baby will add a completely different dynamic to the family, and even before the baby arrives, your pregnancy will bring some changes with it. Explain that while you are pregnant, you may feel sick sometimes, and you might not be able to do all of the things you could do when you weren’t pregnant. You should also explain who will take care of those duties, whether it’s their father or another close relative.
  • Involve them in the pregnancy – Whether you bring your kids to an ultrasound or let them feel the baby kick, you can help them bond with the new baby before he or she is even born.
  • Explain what newborns need – Newborns require a tremendous amount of care and attention. Your children should know that you may not have as much time to spend with just them, but that you are always there if they need you. Loving a second baby on top of caring for your first child may take some attention away from your firstborn, but emphasize that you will love your older child just as much after you bring home the new baby.

As you prepare for the new baby to arrive, it is equally important that you help your children prepare for the changes to come from this unexpected second, third or fourth pregnancy.

Resources for Children

There are many books and other materials for younger children who are learning about pregnancy. Below, you will find some suggestions for resources to share with your children:

If you are still unsure about talking to your children about an unplanned pregnancy or which path to take moving forward, consider reaching out to trusted family members and friends or an unplanned pregnancy counselor for support.