Are you expecting? Are you unsure of what the next step will be?
It is natural to feel anxious and uncertain when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. The main thing we thirst for in a crisis is support. You need the arms, ears, and compassion of someone who can listen to your concerns and open the doors to a future that you are prepared for.
A pregnancy center is designed to provide compassionate support to men and women facing difficult pregnancy decisions.
Here is what you can expect.
What Will I Get from a Pregnancy Center?
Pregnancy centers are nonprofit organizations and provide people with millions of dollars of free services. These may include counseling, free pregnancy tests, information about pregnancy options, and post-decision support that may include parent education and post-abortion counseling. Some may also provide testing and treatment for STDs.
Your center may also include medical services such as ultrasounds, testing, and consultations with medical professionals.
Some centers may provide material support in the form of diapers, wipes, clothes, and formula for up to two or three years after the baby is born. Many will also provide referrals for housing, food, medical care, counseling, and utility assistance.
Pregnancy centers may provide information on abortion, parenting, and adoption. You can get information on types of abortion procedures as well as the risks associated with them. You can learn about closed and open adoptions, and how you can make an adoption plan for your child. In rare cases, an expectant mother may be in danger and can get information on where safe havens are for newborns in her area. A pregnancy center can also provide a judgment-free zone to discuss planning for parenting and any questions you may have.
You may also want to learn about co-parenting with an ex, money management, or healthy relationship roles.
Oftentimes, qualified doctors and nurses can educate patients on pregnancy basics, nutrition, and give birth planning consultations. You can learn about breastfeeding and infant CPR. There are even classes available for pregnant women who have survived abuse.
How Much Does a Pregnancy Center Cost?
Pregnancy centers will often provide ultrasound or STD testing at little to no cost. They are nonprofit organizations designed to provide compassion and help. If you are uninsured or have insurance that does not cover these basic services, you will likely get a lot of free support from a pregnancy center.
How Do Pregnancy Centers Raise Money?
Pregnancy centers may receive some federal funding or raise money through fundraisers. They may also have showers where individual citizens purchase gifts for moms-to-be. Many pregnancy centers also receive grants from donors.
What Is the First Step in Contacting a Pregnancy Center?
You can call up your local pregnancy center to get a free pregnancy test and ultrasound. Your initial appointment will probably last for about an hour. It is confidential, and you are welcome to bring someone with you for support.
Will My Information Be Confidential?
Pregnancy centers will treat your health and personal information with the utmost confidentiality. They understand that your decisions are emotional, private choices. They will not discriminate based on age, race, nationality, religious affiliation, disability, or other circumstances.
How Do People Feel About Leaving a Pregnancy Center?
According to Care Net, 97% of clients said they had an overall positive experience at their pregnancy center. Clients were met with warmth and understanding and felt that they were given a clear understanding of all of their options. For many, it was a source of strength and guidance in a dark place. If you are looking for a place where you will be welcomed and not judged, pregnancy centers are a wonderful place to start.
Who Works at a Pregnancy Center?
All pregnancy centers offering medical services must operate under the authority and direction of a licensed physician who is in good standing with the state’s licensing board. Only trained and licensed medical professionals can perform medical procedures, including ultrasound. Pregnancy centers are also required to carry medical liability coverage for the center and all personnel.
What Are Some Popular Pregnancy Centers?
New York has popular pregnancy centers like Visitation Center Pregnancy Support. They offer help to those who are in school and even have centers available at city colleges.
Los Angeles Pregnancy Services has several locations. The Parenting Center in Washington, D.C. offers childbirth classes, parenting classes, and support groups.
Pregnancy centers are available in almost every part of the country. You should not have to look far to locate one. A pregnancy center within driving distance from your home will give you a convenient place you can go when you need counseling, support, and supplies.
How Can I Choose a Pregnancy Center?
Choosing a pregnancy center is a personal decision. Before visiting, take note of how you feel when you speak to the center on the phone.
Is communication clear? Were receptionists compassionate and professional? Did you feel that your concerns were listened to? Did you feel supported?
Take a look around your pregnancy center when you first visit. It should appear clean, comfortable, and inviting.
Don’t be afraid to ask any pregnancy center you are considering for references before you begin working with them. Call up former guests and ask them about their experiences. Was their overall experience positive? Were their needs provided for? Were all medical experiences professional?
Try to find someone whose story resembles yours and see if you can find similarities between your experiences. You may have even found someone who can support you and give you hope along your journey!
Online support groups are another wonderful way to get the comfort you are looking for. You can find success stories as well as an understanding of your situation. The most important thing is that you know you are not facing your situation alone!
Can Men Visit a Pregnancy Center?
Men can visit a pregnancy center with their wives or girlfriends if they wish. They also may receive a lot of assurance. You can watch the ultrasound together and make a decision at the same time.
Be sure to listen to her feelings and provide lots of comfort and support. Let her know she is important to you and don’t make her feel pressured. Remember that you are both feeling fear right now, but you are not in a hopeless situation. Making the right plan can lead to great relief and comfort as you face the future.
What Will I Learn About Parenting?
You may not have planned on getting pregnant and therefore have never thought through your parenting philosophy or plan. Pregnancy centers can supply you with courses in pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. You will also learn childcare basics such as how to give a child a bath or change a diaper.
There are lots of books and podcasts that are affordable or free that can also help you develop a parenting philosophy. There are no perfect parents, but you will want to have a little information before you start parenting.
You may not, for example, have thought about how you will discipline your children. You may agree with some of the ways your parents approached discipline and disagree with others. The right parenting philosophy can help you think about how you will teach your children to listen and what moral foundation you will give them.
What Will I Learn About My Options?
Lots of research and soul-searching is critical when you are faced with an unplanned pregnancy. You will need a clear head and lots of understanding about what you want for your future.
Cost is a factor that many young moms need to deal with. Adoption, for example, comes at no cost to the birth mother. You may also have your medical care and living expenses paid for by the adoptive family while you are pregnant. These may include rent, utilities, clothing, food, and vitamins not covered by your insurance and Medicaid.
If you consider adoption, you will need to put your baby’s health and safety first while you are pregnant. You may experience feelings of loss and confusion while leaving a hospital without a child if you make an adoption plan. Counseling can help you to overcome these feelings and look forward to your future.
Abortion may cost you around $500 to $1,000 for the procedure. There may also be additional costs for the ultrasound and morning-after pills. There are some risks such as bleeding, scarring, and perforation of the uterus. Eating disorders, guilt, and depression may also follow abortion even if there is no immediate regret.
Parenting is an expensive option because you will be providing for your child’s needs each year. These may include diapers, baby bottles, and clothing at the beginning and car seats and preschool later on. Parenting is a journey filled with lots of ups and downs, and you will need the support of other moms and dads, family, and spiritual communities. It is important to keep a clear head and take time for yourself. You will need definitive goals and careful financial planning and budgeting. Parenting can make you stronger than you thought you could be as you carefully navigate your goals for yourself, your child, and your future.
There are many great single moms and dads who have committed their lives to their children. They are working, taking night classes, and trusting in a divine plan for their lives.
You will need support whatever you end up choosing for yourself and your child. Single parenting, however, may require some favors and support from your friends and family.
If—for example—you have a job, you will need to figure out childcare arrangements until your child is old enough to go to school. Once your child is school-aged, you will need to figure out how your child will get to and from school.
Many single parents enjoy being the only one who makes decisions for their child and not having their authority undermined by the other parent. They may also enjoy the increased bonding time and lack of fighting between parents.
Single parents have a unique opportunity to model strong, ethical adult behavior for their children. It does, however, require a lot of work on one parent’s part both financially and emotionally.
Making the decision to parent alone should not be done lightly, and you should begin planning now for whatever the future holds.
Facing an Unplanned Pregnancy
It is important to acknowledge your feelings when facing an unplanned pregnancy. You may be in shock, and your feelings may range from excitement to confusion. The best way to cope with overwhelming feelings is to get them out in the open where they can be sorted out and supported.
It is critical to talk to others who can accept your feelings without judgment. You may also wish to begin a journal. Search for some online support groups. Your usual circle of family and friends may be able to give you a degree of support, but you will want to talk to those who have faced the same circumstances and found some resolve and closure.
You will need to eat healthily and drink lots of water to keep your energy up. Make sure that you take your vitamins and avoid eating things that could harm your child, including raw meat and seafood with high levels of mercury.
It is easy to panic when faced with the unknown. Lots of compassionate support is critical. When you feel overwhelmed, call up a friend, go for a walk, or read a book that inspires you. Go for pregnancy yoga or get a prenatal massage. Prioritizing self-care can help you to keep this time in your life in perspective, and help you feel more confident and hopeful.
Pregnancy Centers and You
Pregnancy centers can provide the basic prenatal care, counseling, and referrals you need to start you on your journey. The right one can help you turn a scary situation into a plan and motivation for the future.
Are you considering placing a child for adoption? Not sure what to do next? First, know that you are not alone. Visit PregnancyHotline.org or call 1-800-GLADNEY and speak to one of our Options Counselors to get compassionate, nonjudgmental support. We are here to assist you in any way we can.