Whatever stage you are at in your life, discovering that you are pregnant changes everything. An unplanned pregnancy can leave you feeling shocked, overwhelmed, confused, and even scared. If this describes your situation, you should know that these feelings are completely normal and understandable, and regardless of your situation, you have options.
This page will provide you with the information you need to know about unplanned pregnancy, as well as what you need to do as you move forward at this time in your life.
Unplanned Pregnancy Statistics
As you cope with your unplanned pregnancy, one of the most important things to remember is that you are not alone. Unexpected pregnancy is not an uncommon occurrence, and it is not limited to any specific type of woman. Below, you can read some facts and statistics about women who have found themselves in your same position:
- Over than half of all pregnancies are unplanned.
- In 2008, the most unintended pregnancies occurred in women between the ages of 20 and 24.
- About 31% of pregnancies were considered “mistimed,” while 20% of pregnancies were deemed as “unwanted.”
- About 54% of unplanned pregnancies occurred with women who did not use contraception. Only 5% of cases appeared in women who consistently used contraception.
Women from all stages of life can find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy, and every woman in your position must ultimately make a decision about her pregnancy.
What to Do
An unplanned pregnancy is a life-altering event, and it’s perfectly natural for you to be overwhelmed and unsure of what to do next. Along with planning for the long-term, you must determine your course of action for the immediate future.
Before you make any major decisions, there are a few things you need to do as soon as you learn you are pregnant:
Confirm Your Pregnancy with a Doctor
If you believe you are pregnant, the first person you should consult is a doctor. Your doctor will perform a test to verify that you are indeed pregnant, and from there you can discuss the kind of prenatal care you should receive. You may also need to give a review of your health history prior to the pregnancy.
At your first doctor’s visit, you can also work out your baby’s due date and make plans for when you will have your next appointment. If you are considering terminating the pregnancy, now is the time to let your doctor know, and he or she will talk with you about your options.
Decide Who to Tell about your Pregnancy
When your pregnancy has been confirmed, you must decide who else should know about your situation. You may also be wondering if it is possible for your pregnancy to remain a secret.
Hiding your pregnancy is discouraged for several reasons. First and foremost, secrecy can negatively affect you and your pregnancy; not only will you lack the support you need during this time, but you will have the added emotional burden of keeping your secret. Also, if you don’t disclose your pregnancy, it could potentially cause legal issues if you choose to pursue adoption or abortion. If your safety is a concern, there are ways for you to hide your pregnancy and even find new living arrangements, but you should try to be honest if at all possible.
The first people you will probably want to tell about your pregnancy are your closest family members. If possible, you should also tell the father of your child about your pregnancy. By letting these people know about your situation, you can get a better idea of the support you will have as you take your next steps.
Ideally, once you have told your loved ones about your unplanned pregnancy, then they will become the foundation of your support system. Family and friends can be a great source of comfort and strength as you work through this stage of your life, so don’t be afraid to lean on them when you need to.
Unfortunately, not everyone has the support of their family members after an unexpected pregnancy. If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy on your own or with insufficient support, you can reach out to other resources who can help you determine what to do. Some of the options that may work for you include:
- Maternity homes – If you are in a situation where you are in need of living arrangements for the length of your pregnancy, maternity homes provide you with a safe place to stay.
- Adoption agencies – Contacting an adoption agency does not obligate you in any way to begin the adoption process. You can speak with a specialist about adoption and other options at no cost to you.
- Planned Parenthood – Your local Planned Parenthood can consult you about what to expect during your pregnancy, how to care for yourself, and how to figure out your next steps.
Explore Your Options
Once you are sure you are pregnant and you have involved a support system, it is time for you to think about your next steps. Women in your position have three primary options: parenting their child, placing the child for adoption, or terminating the pregnancy.
This decision is by no means an easy one, and no one should make it but you. If you are currently weighing your options, here are just a few of the things you should know:
If you choose to parent your child: Whether you are parenting alone or with other support, you have resources available to you if you need them. See these parenting resources and visit Single Parent Advocate if it applies to you.
If you choose to have an abortion: Depending on your age and the state you live in, there may be limitations on when and if you can obtain an abortion. You can learn more about these laws at Planned Parenthood to see if abortion is an option for you.
If you choose to place your child for adoption: You and the father of your baby will both need to legally terminate your parental rights when you place your child for adoption. Learn more about the legal process of adoption and your rights at the Child Welfare Information Gateway.
As you move forward after an unplanned pregnancy, it is important to remember that the decision you make is up to you. You can learn more about your options at our Adoption vs. Abortion and Adoption vs. Parenting pages.