6 Ways To Cope With an Unplanned Pregnancy
If you are in the midst of facing an unplanned pregnancy, let me be the one to assure you that I know exactly how you feel.
Twice, to be exact.
The feelings of fear, of disbelief, of guilt, of even a little shame for “letting” this happen. As women, we are expected to be the one with the plan in place, the birth control under, well, control, and still, when life persists on making its presence known even when we weren't expecting it (or even welcoming it), our carefully laid-out plans are put into complete disarray.
Women today have the choice of when they want to say “yes” to life, but what if that choice isn't so easy? What if the path to continuing the pregnancy seems murky and filled with fear? Is it possible cope with an unplanned pregnancy and to not only survive it, but to thrive in the role of unexpected motherhood?
A hundred times, over, I say yes!
Even after experiencing my first unplanned pregnancy during college, when I once again saw those two tiny blue lines pop up almost six years later, I doubted myself and the life I was carrying. I can't do this, it won't be ok, the timing is all off, I thought.
And yet, in the back of my mind, I knew that it would be ok. I just needed some help to get there. Here are 6 ways I've used to cope with an unplanned pregnancy.
Give yourself time. Honestly, it really is ok if you aren't in love with the idea of being pregnant and another baby right away. It is a lot to take in and it does change your life forever. It's ok to give yourself time to grieve the life you thought you were heading for and to give yourself time to adjust to your new life. In my first pregnancy, I didn't fall head over heels in love with my daughter until I held her in my arms. Every woman is different and you may need more time, so give yourself a break!
Focus on the positives. In the midst of an unplanned pregnancy, fear and misgivings can threaten to completely overwhelm you and your thoughts. In my own experience, I tend to have negative thoughts like, I can't do this, our house is too small, I'm not a good mom, I'll gain too much weight.
But, if I can focus on the positives instead, my fears can calm and I can start to think of the pregnancy and our new addition with a little bit more perspective. Instead of focusing on everything that seems wrong about the situation, how about naming a few positives? For me, that has meant focusing on the fun of watching a new baby grow, the joy it will bring to our family, how nice it will be for our kids to grow up close in age, and the beauty of a “completed” family.
Surround yourself with support. The issue of unplanned pregnancy is not one that you have to face alone. You may be surprised to know that more than half of all pregnancies in the United States are actually unplanned. Many women face unplanned pregnancy, and those that decide to continue their pregnancies deserve to know that they are not alone and that motherhood is not a dead end. I set out to do exactly that in my book (pictured above!), now available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, which is filled with stories of women who have gone on to combine unplanned motherhood and living their dreams. I needed to hear that other women had been through what I had, and not only made it through, but created wonderful lives for themselves and their children.
Advocate for other mothers. I think one of the biggest reasons people fear unplanned pregnancy is that so often, is is associated with mothers who don't have a lot of support, whether that be financial or in the form of a supportive partner. It is very difficult to succeed as a young mom with an unplanned pregnancy without support, as it would be for any mother to succeed without help. One of the ways I coped with my own unplanned pregnancy was helping other women like me. I got involved on my college campus to help serve student mothers, started a support group, and sought out blogs written by other young moms to connect with women who could inspire me. By making a difference in the life of another mother, you may find your own strength as well.
Don't give up your own dreams. Want to know the secret to success as a mother, unplanned or not? Don't give up on your own dreams. I can't tell you that nothing about your life will change with children, of course, but there is simply no reason that you can't still lead the life you dreamed about. It may take longer to get there, there might be some long nights in the process, but I firmly believe that mothers can–and more importantly, should–chase all their dreams, sidekicks in tow if need be.
Look for resources. If you are a young mom, or in school, look for resources that will help you to succeed as both a parent and a professional. From help with tuition to housing and financial assistance, there are a lot of resources and support for young mothers and single mothers–it's just about knowing where to look. I've included some of the resources I've come across in years as an advocate for young mothers on my blog and a more complete listing in my book as well.
What tips can you share that helped you when coping with an unplanned pregnancy?Read More