Unplanned Pregnancy? Here’s What to Do First
An unplanned pregnancy can be one of life’s most disruptive surprises. If you’re experiencing an unplanned pregnancy right now, you most likely feel overwhelmed, anxious and maybe even a little scared. If this is an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy, well, those emotions become even more difficult. It’s understandable — even expected — to have a lot of questions.
- What can I do with an unwanted pregnancy?
- How is my unplanned pregnancy going to disrupt my life?
- What options do I have?
- How do I decide what to do with an unplanned pregnancy?
- What’s my next step?
What to Do with Unplanned PregnancyAt this point, you’ve probably taken a pregnancy test at home and gone through the immediate response to such surprising news. You’re reading this, so you’re trying to figure out what to do when you have an unexpected pregnancy. There are unplanned pregnancy options for you if parenting isn’t a realistic choice right now. We’ll get to those in just a moment. But, first, there are some things you should considering doing. These four steps are all about protecting you — your health, your emotions and your wellbeing.
Step 1: Schedule an Appointment with your DoctorRegardless of the unexpected pregnancy option you ultimately choose, you’ll need to begin the medical process of pregnancy. The first step is to schedule an appointment and confirm your pregnancy with a doctor. Your doctor will be able to determine how far along you are and talk over next steps with you. Remember to take the necessary steps to protect your body as you figure out what to do when you have an unplanned pregnancy. If you have questions — about what to expect, how to exercise, nutrition while pregnant, or anything else — your doctor is a great person to ask.
Step 2: Process Your FeelingsOnce you’ve taken care of your body’s physical needs, you can turn to the emotional ones. Learning you are pregnant might be difficult news to hear. If you weren’t expecting or wanting to be pregnant, then you might feel overwhelmed and afraid. Other feelings — anger, shame, anxiety, doubt — may also be piling up inside of you. Give yourself time to work through everything you are feeling, and grace for the emotions that can be more challenging. Whatever you are feeling, it’s okay to feel.
Step 3: Reach Out to Trusted PeopleDo you have a support network of friends and family? If your partner is a part of your life and someone you can trust, they are also an important piece of your network. Going through an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy on your own will make the whole process more difficult. If you have trustworthy people in your life who you can rely on, reach out to them. Explain your news. Let them know that things may get challenging, and you could really use their support.
Step 4: Explore Your OptionsYou’ve taken care of your body, your mental health and your emotional wellbeing by following the first three steps. That means you are ready to begin the process of making a massive decision: what to do when you have an unplanned pregnancy. There are three ways to respond to an unexpected pregnancy: parenting, abortion and adoption. Let’s take a look at all three in greater detail.
Options for Unplanned and Unwanted PregnancyResearching your options for an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy is a good place to start. Don’t forget that you can speak to a helpful professional by contacting us at any time. In the meantime, here’s what you need to know about your options when facing an unplanned pregnancy.
ParentingOf the millions of women in the U.S. who experience an unplanned pregnancy each year, parenting is far and away the most common choice. If your pregnancy is unplanned, but not necessarily unwanted, then it could turn out to be a wonderful surprise. The parenting journey is challenging. There are practical issues, like the cost of raising a child and potential disruption to work and schooling. Then, there are emotional difficulties, like the new and often unexpected feelings that came with giving birth and raising a child. Are you ready to embrace this journey — both the good and the bad? Parenting can be an amazing response to an unexpected pregnancy. But, it’s not possible for everyone, which brings us to the next two options.
AbortionWhat can I do with an unwanted pregnancy? If this is both an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy, then you may already know that parenting isn’t a choice. Abortion could be an option for you. Abortion is a medical procedure that removes pregnancy tissue (before eight weeks of pregnancy) or the fetus and placenta (after eight weeks of pregnancy) in order to end a pregnancy. There are, generally speaking, two “types” of abortion. First, an “elective” abortion is when a woman chooses to end her unplanned and unwanted pregnancy. On the other hand, a “therapeutic” abortion is when a pregnancy needs to end because of the medical risk it poses to the mother. The abortion process will involve several steps, and will be different depending on how far along your unplanned pregnancy is. Depending on how far along you are and the state you live in, abortion services may be more challenging (or impossible) to access.
AdoptionThe third option for what to do when you have an unplanned pregnancy is adoption. Adoption can be a great choice for women who know that parenting isn’t an option but still feel a desire for their baby to have a wonderful life. The adoption process has changed drastically over the last few decades. If you’ve seen movies about adoption, you may have a regressive image in your mind — a helpless woman leaving a baby on the doorstep of an orphanage or fire station, never to be seen again. This isn’t at all how it works today. When you choose adoption as a response to your unintended pregnancy, you are in charge of the process. A private agency will provide support (at no cost) all the way. You choose the adoptive parents for your baby, and you can still have a lasting relationship after placement thanks to open adoption. One other aspect of the adoption process is an important consideration for anyone in the decision making unplanned pregnancy process: adoption financial assistance. While it is illegal to receive any form of payment for adoption, most prospective birth mothers are eligible to receive adoption financial assistance for living and pregnancy-related expenses during the process. This can make the idea of carrying a pregnancy to term much easier to handle from a practical perspective. All of these changes to the process — which aim to respect the dignity or prospective birth mothers — have made adoption a more appealing option for many women wondering what to do if you have an unexpected pregnancy.
My Unplanned Pregnancy ChoiceYou now know the steps to take and the options available to any women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. But, you may be asking, “What should I do if I get an unwanted pregnancy?” Choosing your unplanned pregnancy option is an incredibly personal decision. It’s challenging, and it will have a long-lasting effect on your future. Making the choice to go with parenting, abortion or adoption is one of the biggest decisions anyone will have to make. While we can’t tell you exactly what to do, we can provide some additional resources, as well as questions to consider that could point you in the right direction. When wondering what to do if you have an unwanted pregnancy, ask yourself:
- Is parenting a possibility for me?
- Will carrying a pregnancy to term put me in danger from a medical perspective?
- Will carrying a pregnancy to term cause massive disruption to my career, education, etc.?
- Would carrying a pregnancy to term be more realistic is my medical costs and living expenses were taken care of?
- If I don’t think parenting is possible, do I still feel a desire to give birth to my baby?
- Does the thought of my baby having a loving family appeal to me?
- Is an open adoption relationship, and a lasting connection to my child, something that I want for my life?
- Should I Be a Parent?: On the fence about whether or not parenting is a realistic option for your unexpected pregnancy? Take a deeper dive into the subject with facts and statistics, as well as personal considerations to think about.
- How Abortion Works: You know it brings an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy to an end. But, how does it actually work? Understanding the process could sway your decision.
- How to Place Your Baby for Adoption: The adoption process can be confusing. Understanding how it works may make you more comfortable with this response to your unintended pregnancy.
- Adoption Laws in Your State: Part of choosing what to do with an unexpected pregnancy is understanding what is legally possible in your state. Each state has its own adoption laws. Learn more about the adoption laws in your state to get a better idea of how this process could work for you.
- Abortion Laws in Your State: Many states have enacted laws that create barriers to abortion services. Depending on where you live, it may be difficult to choose this procedure as your response to an undesired pregnancy.
- Professional Adoption Services: Choosing an adoption agency is one of the first (and most important) steps in the adoption process. Your agency provides the support and services that make sure your interests are protected and your adoption placement is completed successfully.
- Professional Abortion Services: Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in the U.S. This guide will provide you with more information on clinics, state laws, and how you could potentially use their services.
- Social Support in Your Area: If you need practical support for any reason, check in with your local social services office. There could be resources in your area to make your unplanned pregnancy easier to handle.