Introduction

A crisis is a time when a difficult or important decision must be made. Is this you? Have you found yourself in a crisis situation? Are you faced with having to make a life-changing decision? Now is the time to seek out a crisis pregnancy center for help.

When it feels like the world is closing in on you, know that you are not alone. Nearly 1 in 2 pregnancies in America are unplanned. That is half of the population of pregnant American women! Not every pregnancy is planned, but not every unplanned pregnancy is a crisis. What are your options?

If your unplanned pregnancy has put you in crisis mode, there are several options for you to consider in order to make the best decision possible. The first option is to visit a crisis pregnancy center.

What is a crisis pregnancy center?

A crisis pregnancy center (or CPC) offers many services. They are a nonprofit community center and/or clinic that can assist you in a time of need. They offer the following:

- Care primarily to pregnant women and mothers of infants;

- Resources and referrals to specialists;

- They do not offer abortion services.

A crisis pregnancy center is designed to help pregnant mothers seeking direction in this life-altering time. The staff members who assist in the day-to-day operation of a crisis pregnancy center are volunteers. If any services require medical treatment, the volunteering nurse or doctor is a credentialed professional.

History of crisis pregnancy centers

Modern-day CPCs began to appear in the late 1960s. However, there is historical evidence showing that CPCs were around as far back as the 1880s.

What started as a place for unwed mothers to seek shelter and assistance has grown into thousands of CPCs spread all across the U.S. offering a variety of services. In 2010, over a million new patients in the U.S. visited a crisis pregnancy center, thus confirming you are not alone. As isolated as you may feel, there are many others in the same boat with you.

Expectations when visiting a crisis pregnancy center

When visiting a crisis pregnancy center, you will be greeted by staff members who are willing to provide you with information about your pregnancy and options. These options may include adoption if you do not wish to raise your baby.

During your visit, you will be provided with information about what to expect in an unexpected pregnancy. The resources provided are not used to coerce you into making a decision. They are simply that: information.

You will be seen by a volunteer that will have a title somewhat similar to a patient advocate. This person is your point-person in the appointment, and she will do her best to get to know you and your desires for this pregnancy.

Additionally, she is a liaison between you and the medical professionals there. If you have any questions or concerns, she can relay those on your behalf. If you are seeking additional support during the ultrasound or any other part of the appointment, the patient advocate is there to help support you.

Common misconceptions about a crisis pregnancy center

There will be many sites that come across in an Internet search with various claims about unethical practices in a crisis pregnancy center. Some sources also claim that crisis pregnancy centers provide false information. Before taking to one side of the argument or the other, consider the information.

Top 5 misconceptions:

1. CPCs are fake clinics

2. Only have a mission to prevent abortions

3. Are staffed by unqualified volunteers

4. All are religious and affiliated with a religious group

5. Pressure women into adoption

To reiterate, these top five misconceptions are what is most often seen or discussed when referring to a crisis pregnancy center. There may be additional misconceptions out there. For now, it is important to discuss these five misconceptions.

1. Fake Clinic

There can be a mix-up of information regarding if a CPC is a clinic or not. In order to determine the best choice, let’s look at the differences in the two types of CPCs.

Some CPCs are pregnancy resource centers where you are able to obtain information such as financial assistance, baby supplies, social services, etc. There are some centers that can provide pregnancy tests and prenatal vitamins. However, these centers are NOT clinics as noted in their name.

The second type of CPC is a pregnancy help clinic that can provide you with more medical treatments such as an ultrasound and prenatal care. This type of clinic is run under the direction of a licensed medical professional. Keep in mind that a clinic does not offer services usually found inside of a hospital.

It is understandable how people can mix-up the two types and try to portray that a CPC is a “fake clinic.” However, simple research shows there is a difference in CPCs, and it is important to know which center you are in need of visiting.

2. Prevent Abortions

Anyone can have an opinion on pro-life or pro-choice. Just because someone disagrees with your opinion doesn’t mean you will automatically change your opinion to match theirs, right? The same goes for this scenario.

While CPCs do not offer services or referrals for abortions, they do care about the mother and baby. Their services show their desire to help women in need who find themselves in a crisis situation. Regardless of your choice for your pregnancy, CPCs offer valuable information and support.

3. Unqualified Volunteers

Any volunteer of any organization, business, or group has to have some sort of training behind the materials and/or services that are offered. That is no different for a CPC. Volunteers who donate their time to offer assistance to support pregnant women do need to complete training for their position within the organization.

Additionally, the medical professionals who perform prenatal exams or ultrasound scans must be medically trained in order to protect the health and safety of you and your baby.

4. Religious Affiliations

A large number of CPCs across the country are affiliated with a religious group. That is not to say you will be turned away because of your own beliefs. If a CPC is affiliated with a religious group, this is not something that should turn you away from seeking assistance if you need it.

Additionally, the religious affiliation is not always obvious when visiting a CPC. This means they are not attempting to push their agenda onto you. They are doing the work they feel called to do, and that is to help women like you.

5. Pressure Women into Adoption

A CPC’s mission is to educate women on their choices and their rights. They strive to help you make the best possible decision by giving you all the facts and resources. They understand the difficulty and pressure that you feel when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. Therefore, they desire to support you in making life-impacting plans.

You will receive information regarding adoption choices. This does not mean they are pressuring you to choose adoption only. However, it is resourceful for you to consider all of your options. Knowing this ahead of time will help you make an informed decision.

Services offered by a crisis pregnancy center

Depending on the CPC you visit, make sure you understand their title and what they offer beforehand. Again, there are two types of CPCs: A pregnancy resource center or a pregnancy help clinic.

Services offered by a pregnancy resource center:

Some pregnancy resources centers can offer you free urine pregnancy tests. It is the same process as going to the store and picking one up yourself. Therefore, you don’t need a medical license to take one and read the results.

Additionally, there are various items that can be offered at a resource center that are worth the visit such as free prenatal vitamins. Some resource centers even provide a free pack of diapers and/or wipes plus other baby supplies for you to take home.

Furthermore, pregnancy resource centers are just as they sound: a resource. They have information that you may have not considered or maybe had no knowledge of before. Their mission is to guide you in your journey by providing you with the most accurate information.

You may also find a resource center offering various classes such as birthing classes, parenting classes, breastfeeding classes, etc.

Services offered by a pregnancy help clinic:

A pregnancy help clinic is a health clinic, not a hospital. You can find services such as ultrasounds, STD/STI testing and treatment, prenatal exams, and more at a help clinic.

The best part? Their services are free! The financial burden you may feel when seeking help could impact your decision-making process. Therefore, pregnancy help clinics take that burden away and assist you with the next steps in your unplanned pregnancy.

Pregnancy help clinics also provide emotional support and nursing consultations by registered nurses. Keep in touch with the pregnancy help clinic you visit even after birth because they offer assistance with infants as well.

How to locate a crisis pregnancy center

Across the United States, there are more than 2,200 CPCs. In order to find a CPC near you, a simple search on the Internet will show you where you can go. You can Google “crisis pregnancy center near me” and results should populate.

Due to the controversy over CPCs and misleading information, you won’t find large, attention-drawing advertisements in the public’s eye regarding the location of a CPC. This is to protect the staff, volunteers, and the women and children who visit CPCs.

Additionally, CPCs don’t usually label their doors with signs saying “crisis pregnancy center.” Their location is usually known through the medical community or by word of mouth. Again, this is to protect all who enter their doors and prevent any level of confrontation or protests at their doors where patients are seeking assistance.

When should I visit a crisis pregnancy center?

Coming to terms with your unplanned pregnancy can take some time. It is not easy when life-altering information like this happens, and you’re left wondering how your life is going to pan out. Take as much time as you need to adjust to this information.

When you’re ready, visiting a crisis pregnancy center should be one of the first things you do if you do not have health insurance or the ability to afford health care expenses. The visit will establish the accuracy of your pregnancy by conducting a pregnancy test and then will determine your estimated due date. This information is crucial when planning what your next steps will be.

If you are eight weeks pregnant or more, you may also elect to have an ultrasound of your baby if the CPC you visit offers this service. An ultrasound can help determine your baby’s growth and size. This is important information to compare to your estimated due date as it will show if the fetus is growing normally.

After your appointment, someone from the CPC will likely follow-up with you by phone to ask how you are doing, provide you with any new resources, and see if you have any additional questions he or she might be able to answer.

Will you visit a crisis pregnancy center?

To recap…

1. There are two types of crisis pregnancy centers;

2. CPCs are designed to help you make informed decisions;

3. The services provided by a CPC are free;

4. Not everything you hear about CPCs is accurate;

5. Do your research to determine which CPC you need to visit and find its location.

Now that you know what a crisis pregnancy center is, what will be your next steps in your pregnancy? How can a crisis pregnancy center help you during this time in your life? Have you visited a CPC before? What was your experience?

Are you considering adoption and want to give your child the best life possible? Let us help you find an adoptive family that you love. Visit PregnancyHotline.org or call 1-800-GLADNEY.