Half of all pregnancies are unintended. Finding out that you are pregnant can be a shock even if you were trying – but even more so if you weren’t. If you have become pregnant without intending to, you have three basic options, but first take some time to let the news sink in and think about your choices. If you haven’t already, see your doctor as soon as possible to confirm the pregnancy. Then talk to him or her – or a counselor – to make sure you understand your options and are equipped to make the best decision for you. The choices you have are:
1. The Decision to Become a Parent
Parenting is both challenging and rewarding. The experience of growing a baby inside of you is unlike any other, and then you get to raise a child to be a unique individual with his or her own talents, interests, and personality.
If you choose this option, keep in mind that a good support system is essential. There are seemingly endless decisions to make: if you are single, will you marry the father? If not, what type of financial and parental support is he able to provide? Will you have the financial support you’ll need otherwise? How can you make raising a child fit in with continuing to strive for your personal long-term goals?
In addition to making choices about your future lifestyle and choices about parenting, there are even more immediate concerns, and those include the fact that you have gotten pregnant without first preparing your body and ensuring that you were doing everything you could to be as healthy as possible. Prenatal care is especially important, and be sure to discuss with your doctor any medications you have been taking, including herbal or “natural” supplements. You’ll need to start taking care of yourself and your baby immediately, but don’t worry – your chances of delivering a healthy baby are excellent.
2. The Decision to Place Your Baby for Adoption
Adoption has come a long way, so if raising a child isn’t a good option for you and abortion isn’t right for you either, you should be aware of the wide range of options available to mothers looking to place their babies for adoption today.
Benefits of adoption include being able to choose the adoptive family, having considerable control over many of the details that will affect your child’s future. You can also choose what type of relationship, if any, you would like to have with your child over the coming years. Remember that you can change your mind at any point in the process, up until the child is six months old in many states. Support groups and other counseling services can help you work through your feelings and feel good about your choice – whatever that choice turns out to be.
3. The Decision to Have an Abortion
The decision to have an abortion is never an easy one, but sometimes it is the right one. Learning about the different types of procedures and the risks they carry can help you make an informed decision.
Every woman’s situation is unique, and women choose abortion for many reasons, including not being ready to be a parent, not being financially able to support a baby, feeling that having a baby would make school, work, or caring for other children too difficult, being too young to be an effective parent, feeling that her family is already complete, having health problems, and having a pregnancy that is the result of incest or rape.
Talking to someone you trust who has had an abortion can be helpful, as can learning as much as you can about the laws in your state regarding abortion. Think about your values and your views on abortion, as well as your reasons for choosing this option. Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have about how an abortion might affect your health, relationships, or future fertility.
Unintended pregnancy is never easy, but getting as much information as you can about your choices, talking to someone who can help you through the process, and being honest with yourself about your individual situation can help you make the right decision for you.
– Yvonne S. Thornton, M. D., M. P. H