When You’re Just Not Sure: What To Do About an Unexpected Pregnancy

For many women, finding out that they’re pregnant is an emotional moment. For women who’ve been trying and waiting for a baby for quite some time, the excitement and joy can feel overwhelming. For others though, the overwhelming feelings might have less to do with excitement about their positive test and more to do with the worry, dread, and fear that can come with an unexpected or unplanned pregnancy.

If you’ve recently found yourself staring down at a positive test that you just weren’t expecting, take a few minutes to breathe and then consider following the steps below.

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Take a few days to breathe

Finding out that you’re pregnant can feel life-shattering. Whether the timing isn’t right, the partner you conceived with isn’t ideal, your finances are beyond tight, or a baby just doesn’t fit within the vision you have for your life, staring down at that plus sign can be seriously disappointing or anxiety-inducing. It also might feel like you need to act right away, no matter what you want to do.

The reality is, while time does matter when making a choice about your pregnancy, if you’ve found out within a few weeks of missing your period, you don’t have to rush into any action. As the news sinks in, think about your life, and what you want out of it, before you start to think about your unexpected pregnancy.  

Recognize that you have options

Sometimes, when women see the positive test, they automatically assume it means they’ll be parenting in nine months time. The reality is, you have options. For as long as women have been getting pregnant, some have chosen to parent, some have chosen to place their baby for adoption, and some have chosen to terminate their pregnancy. The decision of how to proceed with any pregnancy is intensely personal. Whatever choice a woman makes, she has the right to be respected and supported by the people in her life.

Find your support people

While every woman has the right to be supported, the unfortunate reality is that not all women have the support they need from the people that are most important to them. If there are people in your life who are sometimes awesome but who you can’t count on to support you unconditionally, this might not be the time to confide in them. As you’re trying to make a decision the only people you should confide in, if at all possible, are people who would support you no matter what choice you make.

Consult the experts

When you’re trying to make a decision about what you want to do, it can be important or helpful to consult a professional who helps women makes choices like this and can share details about what each pathway might look like. As you chose who you want to consult, you might have to be cautious; some pregnancy crisis centers (a lot in fact) provide misinformation regarding birth control options and abortion, even if that was something they were considering or seeking information about. If you want accurate, bias-free information, seek out a health professional through your local health department or visit your local Planned Parenthood.

Make a choice and follow through

Once you’ve gathered the information you need and had time to think about what you want, you’ll need to make a choice. While making a big choice like this can feel scary, it’s important to trust yourself and know that whatever feels best for you is the right choice. Once you make your choice you’ll want to either schedule your termination, start researching adoption agencies, or schedule your first prenatal appointment.

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Get the support you need

Once your choice is made, seeking out support is a vital next step. Reach out to local agencies who help women who are making the choice you are, ask supportive friends and family for advice and love, and make a plan. No matter the choice you make, getting support will make the road easier and less scary.

Good luck!

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When You’re Just Not Sure: What To Do About an Unexpected Pregnancy

Julia Pelly has a master's degree in public health and works full time in the field of positive youth development. Julia loves hiking after work, swimming during the summer and taking long, cuddly afternoon naps with her two sons on the weekends. Julia lives in North Carolina, with her husband and two young boys. You can find more of her work at JuliaPelly.com ... More

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