If you're unexpectedly pregnant ...
Finding out that you are pregnant unexpectedly can be an anxious and confusing time, especially if you are faced with circumstances that seem challenging or scary. The first, most effective thing you can do at this point is not to panic. Take a deep breath…. and know that there are options available to you… and people available to support you. There are lots of reasons why women feel upset or panicked when they find out they are pregnant. These include:
- being young and scared to tell your parents
- not having a job or enough money
- feeling pressure from a partner, friend or family to not have a baby
- being single and feeling unsupported
- being older and already having enough children
Your situation may be like one of these, or completely different. The good thing to remember is that women in these, and worse circumstances have faced your dilemma in the past and have got through it! They do so most successfully by taking the time to really explore all their circumstances and options, becoming fully informed about their options and not rushing blindly into a promised ‘quick fix’. You have time to work out what YOU really want. This is your decision to make. It is your life and the life of your child that will be most affected. Do not allow others to pressure you into making a rushed or regretted decision.
Identify the problem
Many people treat being pregnant as the ‘problem’. If you are doing this, it can cloud your own judgement about how you truly feel about being pregnant and becoming a parent. Imagine if you were in different circumstances, married or with a supportive partner, enough money, family and friends to encourage and support you… Would being pregnant be the ‘problem’ that it is now? This may indicate that being pregnant is not the ‘problem’ at all, but the circumstances you find yourself in or the lack of support or encouragement you are experiencing.
Remember that the circumstances around you can change rapidly and often unexpectedly. Whatever your circumstances, ask yourself ‘if things were different, would I still be so worried or anxious about being pregnant?’ If the answer is no, you now have the opportunity to really explore your thoughts and feelings about being pregnant.
What are my options?
You have three options regarding the outcome of your pregnancy.
- continue with the pregnancy and parent the child
- continue with the pregnancy and consider adoption
- end your pregnancy through termination
Each of these options has its challenges and short and long term difficulties. You will live with the consequences of each decision for the rest of your life. It is important that you have all the information you need to make an informed decision and that you know how and where to access support to help you.
Continuing your pregnancy and parenting
Choosing to be a parent is a big decision and most people don’t feel fully prepared for it no matter how well timed the pregnancy is, however most people find the rewards of parenting far outweigh the challenges. There are many ways in which you can be assisted with parenting your child, whether alone or with a partner. Identifying what your needs may be, practically and emotionally is the first step in determining how they might be met. It is important that you understand any financial assistance that you may be entitled to as well as other supportive services particular to your community that may be available. These include antenatal classes, support groups, play groups and pregnancy support services.
Continue your pregnancy and placing your child for adoption
Adoption means the legal severing of any ties you have to your child and is not a decision that is taken lightly, or by many parents in Australia.
Adoption is quite a different prospect than it was years ago, with many people now opting for an open arrangement whereby they are able to make decisions about keeping in touch with adoptive parents, having access to information about their child, and in some cases even see their child.
Even though many things have changed, adoption is a lifelong decision and it can be a very difficult journey for you, and even for your child as they grow. It is not a decision that you can genuinely make until you have had your child and then you need to make sure you have enough time to properly consider how you feel not only then, but how you may feel in the future if your circumstances change.
There are many services throughout Australia that can help you with adoption information.
Ending your pregnancy
Abortion is a decision made by many women in Australia every year. There are women who say that they experienced abortion as an appropriate option for their circumstances. There are a growing number of women who say that their decision was made because they felt they had ‘no other choice’.
There are also large numbers of women who feel that their decision was not a fully informed one and that they wish they had more information about how abortion would impact them, or about the services they could have accessed to support them. Even many of those who say they experience no regret, have also commented that.. ‘I wholeheartedly agree that most women who undergo abortions suffer long term emotional trauma as a result.’
Because of the very personal and emotional significance of this decision, it is important that you feel in control and do not allow anyone to push you into making a decision you may not truly want. It is vital that you find out about all the services that could assist you through your pregnancy and during parenting if that is what you choose, so that you too don’t end up in a situation of feeling as though there is no choice but abortion available to you.
If you decide on abortion it is important to understand that this is a medical or surgical procedure for which you are entitled full disclosure of all the potential physical and psychological consequences. Make sure you ask the doctor performing your procedure for written information about what you might expect and find out what kind, if any, of ongoing support they offer you should you experience any short term or long term problems.
Some important questions to ask yourself include:
Is this MY decision or am I feeling pressured in any way by any other person or circumstance?
Have I explored all the other options, including checking out the ways in which I can be supported or assisted to continue my pregnancy?
What would I need in order to be able to continue my pregnancy? Who could I ask to help me?
Have I considered how I might feel about this decision in 1 month, 9 months, years from now?
Do I have any risk factors for adverse effects after abortion?
Risk factors include:
- feeling unsure about my decision
- having a history of mental health problems including depression or anxiety
- acting against my moral or religious beliefs
- being a teenager
- feeling pressured or coerced in any way
Some questions to ask your abortion provider…
- What is the name of the doctor who will perform the procedure?
- Will I be able to speak privately with the doctor about my personal circumstances?
- Does the doctor have admitting rights to my local hospital in case I have any complications?
- Who will I call if I have a problem after the procedure?
- Does the doctor provide independent counselling so that I can discuss my options? If so, does this counselling cost money? How much?
- Do I have to pay any money up front, before I have counselling to make my decision?
- Can I change my mind at any time and get a full refund of any money I paid?
- Will you provide an ultrasound? If so, how much will it cost?
- Will I be allowed to view the ultrasound if I choose?
- Will you tell me exactly how many weeks pregnant I am?
- Can you give me information on the development of the foetus?
- What possible physical complications might I experience?
- What possible psychological complications might I experience?
- If having a medical abortion: Where can I go for help if I change my mind after taking mifepristone?
- Can you provide me with information about any services in my community that may help me if I decide to proceed with my pregnancy?
If you are uncomfortable or unhappy with any of the answers, you do not need to make an appointment, or you can leave if you are already at the facility.