When you have your life planned out to go a certain way, it can be derailing to learn about an unplanned pregnancy in your life. Not everything in life goes according to plan. However, this life-changing event can completely change the path you had laid out for yourself.
An unplanned pregnancy can initiate a mix of emotions. Nothing can prepare you for the moment when you learn of an unplanned pregnancy. Oftentimes, you get a sense of “life flashing before your eyes” when you read that pregnancy test result. Some women also feel a dull sense and don’t know how to react.
When you come to the realization that your life has changed due to an unplanned pregnancy, it’s important to know what your next steps will be. What do you do now? Who can help you?
Here you can find resources to help you plan for that unplanned pregnancy.
What is an unplanned pregnancy?
An unplanned pregnancy, otherwise known as an unintended pregnancy, is a pregnancy that was not planned for previously.
In 2011, the percentage of unplanned pregnancies reported was 45%. Many women are at different stages in their lives when they find out they are pregnant. I share this statistic with you to show how many other women face the challenges associated with an unplanned pregnancy. While it may feel like you are alone in this, you are far from it!
What should I do if I’m pregnant unexpectedly?
The first step in finding out you are pregnant is to have a conversation with your doctor. They will want to know when the date of your last period occurred so they can determine how far along you are and if you need to be seen soon.
You can schedule an appointment at your doctor’s office to confirm your pregnancy just as you would any other appointment. They will do either a urine test or a blood test, which is up to your doctor.
If they determine you are indeed pregnant, they will then refer you to an OBGYN for your prenatal care. An OBGYN typically will not see you until you are approximately eight weeks along or more. This gives the fertilized egg the opportunity to implant properly before a vaginal ultrasound can take place.
In the event that you do not have health insurance and/or cannot afford a trip to your doctor’s office, consider visiting a pregnancy center.
A pregnancy center will assist you in confirming your pregnancy, will help establish your due date, and will provide you with resources you will need to find affordable prenatal care. Oftentimes, a pregnancy center can provide you with free supplies such as prenatal vitamins and diapers as well.
Additionally, a pregnancy center can answer questions you might have and can be a guide to you during your unplanned pregnancy.
Who can I turn to in an unplanned pregnancy?
Facing an unplanned pregnancy alone can be terrifying. The feeling of uncertainty, the thoughts of being judged, and the many emotions that come along with an unplanned pregnancy can be overwhelming. It is important for your health to find someone you can confide in.
Oftentimes, people find themselves confiding in friends before family members. Friends are people you have chosen to be in your life because you trust them and have established your own bond with them.
Friends are the people you turn to when you need support. Your experience of an unplanned pregnancy is most definitely a time when you need the support of others.
Consider asking a friend to be there while you accept your new reality. Crying it out on a friend’s shoulder can be helpful if you are feeling sad. Being able to share your thoughts and fears about this unplanned pregnancy with a friend can also be beneficial.
Also, your friend can accompany you to the doctor’s office or the pregnancy center to support you as you take the next step in this journey.
Our family members are people who love and support us through various stages of life. Sometimes, you may fear their disappointment or rejection. In the instance of an unplanned pregnancy, it is normal to feel hesitant to disclose this information to family. Especially if your beliefs are different from theirs.
However difficult it may be, a supportive person can make all the difference for you during this life-changing event. Family support is one of the biggest support systems people have.
Ask a family member whom you trust and can rely on to be present with you at your appointment.
In times of hardship, many people often find themselves seeking guidance from above. When life alters your plans, finding solace in God through prayer can bring you great comfort. Therefore, many women will seek spiritual help at a local church when they are expecting.
Churches offer a variety of support that can range from prayers to financial assistance to group emotional support. In a time when you feel you would rather not involve your friends or family, turn to a church support group to help you during this challenging time.
You may be surprised to find other women who have been or who are currently in the same situation as you are. Their experience and ability to listen to you without a biased opinion can be comforting.
Additionally, church support can go even further than the church doors. Asking for additional support as you navigate your journey is something you can do. There is nothing saying they can only support you when inside of the church building. If you feel comfortable, ask for a church member to accompany you to a pregnancy center or to your doctor’s appointment.
Depending on your situation with the biological father, consider asking him for support as you try to establish an outcome for you and your baby. Contrary to popular belief, not all fathers want to walk away from their babies. You might be surprised to find out the biological father may want to help you and guide you to have a healthy life. He additionally may need support during this time as well.
Including the biological father’s opinion in the next steps of your pregnancy is equally as important as it is when considering your own feelings.
Yes, you are the one who is pregnant and experiencing firsthand how this unplanned pregnancy is altering your life physically. However, the father’s life is also being altered. After all, he is half of the baby’s DNA.
A supportive partner in this situation can make all the difference in determining what your next steps will be. Ask him to take you to the pregnancy center or doctor’s appointment—if you feel comfortable doing so—so that you can both ask questions and learn about your options.
This will help to put you both on the same page and assist you with the emotional journey that is pregnancy.
What if I’m not ready?
There are many things to consider when you learn of your unplanned pregnancy. Things like your age, your current living situation, your life plans, your financial situation, and more come flashing through your mind as you read that result window.
So what happens if you are not ready for a baby? Many moms-to-be ask themselves this very same question, even if they are living a life others would consider to be lavish. Having a baby is life-altering and absolutely requires deep consideration and planning.
However, if you are in a position where you have to make a decision quickly, consider how you can place your baby for adoption.
One of the first things you can do is jot down all the questions you have about adoption. There is some false information out there about adoption. Therefore, making sure to have clarity when speaking to an adoption agency will be key. A good adoption agency wants what is best for you and the baby. They are prepared to answer any questions you may have.
There are also laws to consider depending on which state you live in as well as out-of-country adoption rules. An adoption professional is the best person to speak to in order to gain insight into your rights and the laws that protect all parties involved in an adoption.
As far as options go, there are a few ways an adoption can happen. There are open adoptions, closed adoptions, and even semi-open adoptions. The choice is yours on how you wish to proceed with an adoption.
An open adoption is a way for the child and birth parents to still have a chance at building a relationship. Additionally, an open adoption helps the child to become more secure in herself as she grows older. This gives the child the opportunity to learn who she is in terms of DNA and about her biological background.
Many people consider an open adoption because it gives them a chance to continue to be in their birth child’s life, even though they are not the ones making the choices and decisions about how the child is raised. Being able to watch your child grow and know you made a good decision for him or her is all the reassurance some people need.
Additionally, an open adoption can help the adoptive parents in raising the child. They are able to understand the child on a deeper level based on a relationship that forms with the birth parents. They are also able to help the child understand the circumstances surrounding his or her adoption.
If there is a worry about the child’s safety, a closed adoption might be the best option. A closed adoption allows the child to live a life without fear that he will be found by someone who could hurt him.
Additionally, adoption can be extremely emotional and difficult on one or both of the birth parents. Therefore, the birth parents may not want to keep in contact with the child or the adoptive family.
A closed adoption can be chosen by the birth parents or the adoptive parents. This would mean no personal information such as names and addresses that are shared with either party once the adoption has taken place.
A semi-open adoption is a combination of both open and closed adoptions. In this option, the birth parent may still be able to watch her child grow up from a distance. This usually includes getting updated pictures through the adoption agency and knowing how the child is doing.
However, contact such as visits, phone calls, and/or video chats are not involved in a semi-open adoption. The birth parent may know the name and location of the child, but there is still the barrier of contact between the birth parent and the child.
Once you’ve considered how best to proceed in your unplanned pregnancy, it is important that you make a decision based on knowledge and information. There will be an emotional part that will come into play as well. And there is nothing wrong with that!
Unplanned pregnancies have a way of changing your life. Regardless of your choice to raise your baby or not, your life is forever transformed. Making a decision about your unplanned pregnancy should not be done lightly. The information and resources here are provided to guide you in your journey and help educate you.
Life is a journey; it is important to carefully determine which path you want to take in this journey.
If you are unexpectedly pregnant, please consider adoption. Visit Adoption.com to view adoption profiles from hopeful adoptive parents. Visit Adoption.com/unplanned-pregnancy to find guidance with your unplanned pregnancy.
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.