Dealing with an unexpected pregnancy

Coping with an Unplanned Pregnancy | Hopeline PRC

You weren’t expecting this; the pregnancy test is positive. You’re feeling so many emotions all at once. Where should you go from here?

Did you know, half of all pregnancies are unexpected, so it is natural for many women to wonder how to cope with an unplanned pregnancy. Like any big decision, it’s important to take time to process, accept, and decide what to do next.

Here are six steps that can help you cope with an unplanned pregnancy:

1. Acknowledge that you are in shock, and that’s okay

Unplanned pregnancy is shocking. It is not something you expected, planned for, or likely even thought about. It might take a few days for you to accept it, and that is okay. Give yourself time to process and take it in.

2. Allow yourself to be emotional

Let yourself feel the emotions as they come: anger, excitement, frustration, confusion, and all the others. Write down the emotions you experience, so that in a few days when the intensity has subsided, you can review them and figure out what you still feel about the pregnancy.

3. Face your doubts

Most women, whether their pregnancies are planned or unplanned, experience doubts about themselves and their ability to make a healthy pregnancy decision. It can be easy to let fears and doubts overwhelm you, but it is important to realize that those initial feelings are not enough to base your decision on. Acknowledge those feelings, but don’t let fear make your choice for you. Remember, you do not have to make a decision right away. 

4. Visualize the different options

Take a step beyond fear and visualize each of the options you have. Imagine yourself at home with your baby. Picture grocery shopping and the routine parts of each day.

If you choose abortion, what emotions do you think you’ll feel a week after the abortion, a month after, when you hold your first child? If you’re considering adoption, can you picture yourself going through the process? How would that make you feel? Each of these decisions are difficult in their own way. Reaching out to a trained options counselor may help you navigate through this process.

5. Don’t let finances be your top concern

Finances are important, but they shouldn’t be the only factor you base your pregnancy decision on. There is a lot of help available to you. Hopeline offers resources and referrals to help women and men facing pregnancy decisions.

6. Find non-judgmental support

People have many thoughts and feelings about an unplanned pregnancy. It’s important that you find people who will offer encouragement and help if you need it. If you aren’t sure where to start, Hopeline can help you with free and confidential support throughout your pregnancy.

Hopeline has been serving pregnant women with no-cost and confidential care for over 30 years. Our staff is experienced in helping each woman who walks through our doors to cope with an unplanned pregnancy. Schedule an appointment at Hopeline and let us help you through your next steps.

Dealing with Unplanned Pregnancy: 7 Tips to Cope

An unplanned pregnancy can be an emotional ride, but with the proper support, you may be able to cope and make a decision that best supports what you desire.

The reality of an unplanned pregnancy is that you weren’t expecting it and now may be dealing with the anxiety and trepidation related to what having a baby could mean for you right now.

Maybe it’s bad timing. Or maybe you were done having kids or weren’t ready to consider becoming a parent.

Take a deep breath. Then consider trying to figure out how you’re going to move forward, be it choosing to continue the pregnancy or not. And consider navigating the changes to your relationships or emotional challenges.

When dealing with an unplanned pregnancy, it may help to know you aren’t alone.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in 2008 over 50% of folks reported having an unwanted pregnancy. By 2011, the overall percentage dropped to 45%, but unwanted teen pregnancy remained at about 75%.

Unplanned pregnancy is common in partnered women. A study from 2017 broke down pregnancy intention into “planned,” “unplanned/happy,” “unplanned/ambivalent,” and “unplanned/unhappy.

At 9 months postpartum, the study reports that people who had “unplanned/unhappy” pregnancy experienced psychological distress at nearly double the rate of those who had a “planned” pregnancy.

There are several strategies available that may help you feel calm in the face of uncertainty, stress, and anxiety.

1. Get confirmation

It may not hurt to confirm you’re pregnant with a doctor. While home pregnancy tests are generally very reliable, a doctor can confirm the pregnancy with a blood test and do an ultrasound to see how far along the pregnancy is.

Seeing a doctor may also help you figure out a plan for the pregnancy. This may help you in making decisions about what you are going to do and may help you feel a bit more at ease.

2. Acknowledge you are in shock

It’s OK to be in shock. Shock can happen with any sudden, traumatic changes that may affect your life, like an unplanned pregnancy. You can – and probably should – give yourself some time to process before figuring out how you want to respond.

3. Let your emotions flow

You may feel a range of emotions following a positive pregnancy test as you process what’s going on. They may include:

  • fear
  • excitement
  • anger
  • confusion

It may help you to write them down and then try to process them at a later point in time. Reviewing the emotions felt may help you determine what you are currently feeling about the pregnancy.

4. Allow your thoughts to flow too

Along with your emotions, try to let your thoughts flow without judgment, no matter what you may be thinking. Your thoughts – even dark ones – won’t affect the pregnancy, don’t reflect on you as a person, or in any way reflect how you may be as a parent.

You may want to hold off on action until you’ve had a chance to fully process what you’re thinking and feeling. And again, that’s OK.

5. Consider support options

Now may be a good time for you to figure out who you can lean on for support. Your partner? Close friends? Family members? Or maybe you feel better speaking to a counselor about what you’re thinking and feeling.

No matter who you lean on, support should be unbiased and non-judgmental. You deserve that. No one should judge you, your feelings, or whatever choices you make regarding the pregnancy going forward.

You may also consider seeking a doula or midwife near you that can help you during this time.

6. Visualize your options

As you process your emotions, you may find really considering your options beneficial. You can try to visualize the following:

  • what will life with a new baby at home be like, changes to routine, and so on, acknowledging both the good and the bad
  • what will the adoption process be like should you decide to go down that path, and how will you feel
  • how will ending the pregnancy affect how you feel following the procedure, both in the short and long term

Like with other processes, you should try to go easy on yourself. You’re just considering the options you have and trying to figure out how you will feel about each choice.

You may also want to consider how each decision will affect any underlying condition you may be living with, such as depression and anxiety.

7. Don’t be afraid to accept help

Friends, family, and even some community members may be willing to help during your initial shock through the pregnancy. Support doesn’t always look the same, but it could include the following:

  • offering a friendly shoulder to cry on
  • financial support
  • offerings of food
  • help around the house

You can accept their help and still keep your decisions your own. Providing help doesn’t give permission to another person to dictate how you feel or the decisions you make.

In many parts of the United States, you have three options following an unplanned pregnancy. They include:

Become a parent

Assuming the pregnancy is healthy, you can follow it through to the end and bring home a new baby at the end. You should consider working with a doctor or other medical professional throughout the pregnancy to help ensure the health of the baby.

If you are worried about how to pay for the pregnancy, you can contact the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services at 1-800-311-BABY (1-800-311-2229) for help with finding reduced cost or free medical care or visit their website for other options.


Adoption allows you to connect your baby with a family that will provide care for your unborn child. The adoption process involves several legal processes, and working with a reputable agency can help guide you through it. You can start your search for agencies here.


Abortion is a complicated legal option depending on your location, but it’s still available in different areas of the country and may be the right answer for you.

If you’re considering abortion, you can use this finder to help you find abortion centers in your state or nearby states, as well as up-to-date information on the legality in each state.

Pregnancy is big news that can affect both you and your partner no matter where you are in your relationship. You can take steps to maintain a healthy relationship. Here are some tips:

  • Give them space: Give your partner space to process their emotions, too, so you can discuss them together at a later point.
  • Discuss the options: Take time to discuss your options with your partner, letting them know how you feel about each option and listening without judgment about what they are thinking about each option.
  • Develop a plan together: Once you’ve discussed your options, you can start to develop a plan to move ahead. If you do this together, it may help strengthen your bond and help each other cope.
  • Consider counseling: If you find you’re drifting apart or not seeing eye to eye, you may find that counseling may help. Counseling can help you and your partner communicate more effectively and possibly better understand where they are coming from.

When you get a positive home pregnancy test or find out at a routine medical appointment, try to take some time to process the news. Nothing is going to change immediately, so you do have some time to process what you’re thinking and feeling.

As you start to process the news, you can work with your partner or with friends and family if you’d like to determine what you’re going to do. No matter what you choose, you should feel confident in your decision.

How to accept an unplanned pregnancy - Burning hut

Yulia Shubina works as an editor in a large company, writes a blog about freelancing and receives 100-150 thousand per month. She was preparing a business plan for her new project when she found out she was expecting a baby. We asked Yulia to tell us how she decided to accept her pregnancy, not to be shy about a wedding "on the fly" and completely restructure her plans for life.

We have a telegram channel! Subscribe to be the first to read the most interesting articles and participate in discussions. nine0003

This article has an audio version. If you feel more comfortable listening, turn on the podcast.

I am not the kind of heroine who is usually invited to write articles about her life. My story is very ordinary. And that's probably why it can be useful. I am writing it to remind you that any feelings of a pregnant girl are normal. Like any balanced decision about the fate of this pregnancy.


What is happening in my life at the moment when I became pregnant can hardly be called ideal introductory in order to give birth. nine0003

  • I just started working with a psychologist who told me: “It's good that you don't have a husband and children yet. So your problems will be solved much faster and easier.

  • Relations with the child's father were at an impasse. This was one of the reasons why I went to a psychologist.

  • I came back from a startup program for young Jews and was preparing a business plan for implementation in Israel. The idea was grandiose: to go to the Promised Land, to save all the repatriates ( is what they call emigrants who return to their historical homeland - ed.) from unemployment ... Of course, doing this with a small person in your arms would not be easy at all.

  • The year before, I had a serious failure in my body. Within a day I was covered with bruises from head to toe, and blood began to flow from my gums, cheeks and tongue. It turned out that my platelet count dropped sharply. I was diagnosed with Werlhof's disease. Then, in August 2018, I was strongly advised not to get pregnant for at least a year. And it happened just in August 2019. Waited!

  • At work, she was registered as an individual entrepreneur. So, I was not entitled to a decree in the usual sense.

  • My boyfriend and I were not legally married. Although they called their relationship "civil marriage."

Two strips

I have always been in order with women's health. Therefore, I am not one of those who find out about their pregnancy only in the fourth month. Yes, it turned out that there are such girls. Therefore, if you find yourself pregnant before 12 weeks and register with the antenatal clinic, then the state will even pay you for such consciousness. nine0003

I made an unexpected discovery already in the fifth week. As soon as the delay was three days, I began to panic. After buying the test, I called my best friend. So live we waited for the result of a chemical reaction. Thoughts in my head were in a heap. And then, finally, one strip appeared on the test. I laughed, apologized to my friend and began to say goodbye to her, when suddenly the second strip hatched. And here is where I broke down.

There was sadness, confusion, and horror in those tears. But most importantly, they were tears of joy. Joy from the fact that “a little man lives in you”, that “now one mother has been born in the world” ... In general, everything that is written on women's forums. This joy really was in me. But it was mixed with a million other emotions, and for some reason no one ever warns about this. nine0003

This is what a baby looks like at the beginning of the second month. I plan to sell this picture on REN-TV and say that it is a UFO.

Checklist for adequacy

Realizing the delight and other necessary, as it seemed to me, emotions, I decided to turn to my rational part, until I was flooded with hormones. And I couldn't think of anything better than making a checklist. He was needed to understand that I was really 100% ready to have a baby now.

The checklist looked like this:

  • I discuss everything that worries me, even the most unpleasant, with the father of the child. Our relationship ended up in an impasse just because I didn't do it.

  • I hypothetically put myself in circumstances where no one will help me. Yes, now my parents are young and they have the financial means to help me. And the father of my child is next to me and ready to help 24/7. But what happens if everything changes? Am I ready to hypothetically become a single mother? nine0003

  • I go to a psychologist and ask her to objectively judge whether my head has gone crazy. My request to a specialist was that she would help me understand how adequate I am in decision making. And can I trust myself.

“Tell me, why do people give birth to children?”

During our consultations with the psychologist, I managed to ask her the strangest questions. This time, in order to better understand myself, I asked her why people want to have children in general. It was, of course, only about adequate and "healthy" reasons. nine0003

This is what the psychologist answered:

  • You enjoy the feeling of family. You love to spend time with your family and get energized by loved ones. Or maybe you lack this feeling, because the relationship with relatives is not very good.

  • You need a close person. You want to bring into the world a creature that will be like you and be related to you. Not to be confused with "create a personal slave who will solve your problems all your life." nine0003

  • You want to leave a mark on history.

These answers fit me perfectly. I calmed down and realized that the decision was balanced, as much as possible. There were more material questions.

Career and bureaucratic subtleties

To understand how much I am a person “about work”, you need to know me personally. One of my main clients is For them, I write almost daily articles about work, correct resumes, and job searches. After a year of such bombing, one could get tired of this topic, and I also started a blog on Instagram*. Also about work. And I started writing every day. nine0003

In short, life without a job is simply unrealistic for me. But I already said that it is framed as an IP.

This means that the Labor Code does not protect me. I can be fired "one day", without two weeks of work and payments. And I'm not officially entitled to sick leave or maternity leave.

So I had to not only think about how I would work on maternity leave, but also how I would notify my clients about the pregnancy and what they would say to me. nine0003

It wasn't as dramatic as I thought. My manager at congratulated me and we agreed that I would stay. I’ll just take my usual vacation for a month right before the birth, and then I’ll go to work and combine it with raising a baby. Thankfully I'm away. And in early January, the boss announced that she was giving me one more paid month: she and other colleagues would replace me if possible. It was very human of her, and I am extremely grateful and touched by her. nine0003

This is me giving a lecture about remote work in the Business Space of the Government of Moscow

In addition, I learned that there is a decree for entrepreneurs. But you'll only get the minimum wage, so it's not profitable at all.

Am I sad that I am not expected to have three years of maternity leave at home, like all “normal people” with an employment contract? A little. But, on the other hand, as a career expert, I myself always advise my subscribers to maintain their qualifications while on parental leave. nine0003

“After a flight” wedding

We have been together for four years now, and the question of marriage has arisen from time to time, but we have always dismissed it. It was not up to that, there was no money for a wedding, and it seemed to us that it was stupid to get married without our living space. When I got pregnant, this issue was resolved automatically. We decided that it would be more convenient to get married, and we could protect ourselves from unnecessary bureaucratic hemorrhoids. Of course, you could just sign, but I really love the holidays. So we arranged a small wedding for 25 people. nine0003

On principle, I did not hide from the guests that I was pregnant, and did not try to hide my stomach. It was even important for me that everyone knew that we would have a child.

I'm fed up with the historical burden of "stray marriage". The wedding following the pregnancy is still associated by the majority with a broken fate and a bad combination of circumstances. In this case, the bride seems to everyone to be a loser who could not “clamp the man” in any other way. And the groom is a sucker who was swindled. nine0003

I chose my wedding dress in two tries. And this is very fast, given the limited belly, which could grow at any moment and on an unknown scale.

The only person I decided not to tell a little was my 85-year-old grandmother. I know that all the stereotypes in us are not because we are bad or limited. And from the fact that it happened historically. Stereotypes and traditions, in fact, hold society and culture. And the older we get, the more difficult it is for us to accept the new orders and the increasing degree of freedom with which people open up to each other. I didn't want to test how hard it would be for my grandmother. nine0003

My coming-out didn't end there. I wrote a post on Instagram*, where I honestly talked about my ambiguous reaction to the two stripes and that we decided to get married after we found out about the pregnancy. I have a very small blog, and there is almost no negativity there. But it was scary. However, I knew that I had to do it. I want girls to be prepared for the fact that two stripes is not always a clear wow.

At first I had doubts about whether it was worth it at all. But then I got a few thanks from the readers. They wrote that I helped them a lot. And some honestly admitted that they once got into the same situation and would like to read something similar. nine0003

They say that our brain is designed in such a way that any change is stressful for it. That's why news editors are so nervous. So there is nothing surprising in the fact that the news of pregnancy sometimes confuses a woman. Sometimes even those girls who have been treated for infertility for a long time feel negative. So I think it's important to tell each other the truth. At least within the female community. Since we are lucky enough to live in the era of feminism, it's time to legalize all our feelings. Accept: whatever you feel is normal. The only question is what conclusions you will draw from these feelings and what you will do. nine0003

I would like to dedicate the last paragraph of this rather dry text to the child in my stomach. After all, in the five months that he was with me, he changed me more than any other person I have ever met. And we haven't even met yet!

*Activities of Meta Platforms Inc. and its social networks Facebook and Instagram are prohibited in the territory of the Russian Federation.

Unwanted pregnancy trap | PSYCHOLOGIES



It's great when families take a conscious approach to planning pregnancy and having children. But it also happens differently. Many women are trapped in an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy. And, despite the reluctance, many decide to give birth. This is my story too. My pregnancy was neither wanted nor planned. But very sudden.

Perhaps you did not want it, but the pregnancy has come. What to do?

Scolding and blaming yourself is a bad option. What happened, no doubt, is a lesson for the future, but right now it is pointless to lecture yourself, as well as listen to them from others. All these “should have…” and “if” only mask the feelings of a woman who finds herself in a difficult situation. nine0003

The first and most important thing that any woman feels when she finds out about her situation is fear, and its intensity (from slight fright to chilling horror) is directly related to life circumstances. The strength of fear is influenced by different factors:

  • whether a woman wants children in principle,
  • is there a father of the child nearby, is he a suitable partner,
  • how are things with education, career, finances, housing,
  • is there a family children, how many.

Pregnancy and childbirth are generally associated with many fears. It is important to notice them in time and ask yourself what exactly you are afraid of. This will allow you to solve problems gradually. nine0003

Often a woman's first idea when she finds out about her situation is to have an abortion. However, emergency termination of pregnancy is not always possible. In addition to the moral and ethical component, there are also physiological limitations and potential risks.

“I always planned to have an abortion in such a situation, but I only considered the medical option. When I found out about the pregnancy, it turned out that the period for taking the pills was already running out. There was a high probability that after that, curettage would still be required, and I was scared of the possible health risks. And I made a decision to carry…”

Well, if the question of what to do in such a situation, a woman asks herself in advance. But this is not always the case, and talking about abortion is usually easy only for those who have never faced such a choice. Despite not wanting to become a mother now or ever in the future, a woman may decide to continue the pregnancy.

“I told my family and friends the truth: I got pregnant, I didn't want a child, I went for an abortion and… I couldn't. "That's lovely! Kids are great! they admired. Well done for deciding to leave! This is not what I would like to hear, but in response I received only: “You can’t think like that! Set yourself up for good!..”

Enthusiastic exclamations of encouragement are the last thing a woman wants to hear in this state. It's one thing when you don't want some abstract children, and it's quite another when you don't want a child that continues to grow in your womb, and now with your direct consent.

“How will my unwillingness to be pregnant affect the child's psyche? Does he feel that I don't want him? How am I ever going to raise a child I don't want?"

The bargaining stage is a natural stage in living through grief. And an unwanted pregnancy for a woman who does not want children is unconditional grief

It's not customary to talk about it. About children, either good or nothing. But the decision to keep the pregnancy, unfortunately, does not make it desirable. There is no such magic button, by clicking on which, you immediately begin to wait with tenderness for the unborn child.

“For the first few months, I sometimes mentally turned to my stomach: “Get out of me, please, I don’t want you…” With tears, disgust and pity for myself, for the one who develops inside me, and for our common future… »

The stage of bargaining is a natural stage in living through grief. And an unwanted pregnancy for a woman who does not want children is unconditional grief. And it would be nice during this period to find a suitable psychologist who will support and help to “legalize” and live difficult feelings without judgment.

“I went to a psychologist in a antenatal clinic for group classes to prepare for childbirth. I managed to work with many of my fears, and everything was fine until the leader of the group gave us homework: to write a letter to the unborn baby for the next lesson. About how we wanted it, how we look forward to it. Although by the end of my pregnancy I was already, in general, ready to become a mother, I did not go to the next class. It was unbearably bitter that someone wants and waits, but everything is like this with me ... Well, what will I write to my future daughter in this letter? How did I not want it? How did you expect a miscarriage? How will I read this letter in a group surrounded by happy mothers-to-be? I didn’t want to lie either to myself or to others.” nine0003

Society seems to deprive a pregnant woman of the right to say that she did not want or still does not want a child. Firstly, such recognition can cause condemnation and misunderstanding. Second, it's unbearably embarrassing. It is customary to want, love and wait for children. And if you can’t, then at least pretend, because otherwise it’s indecent and abnormal. The taboo on discussing these difficult experiences leaves the woman alone and in doubt. In this state, it is very difficult to find a resource to move on. nine0003

Decree is a difficult time, when fatigue, loneliness and “Groundhog Day” make you want to either climb a wall, or “run up and jump off a cliff”

“It was a shame. For their cowardice, fears, irresponsibility, for their thoughts at that moment. And it was not clear how it was - at first she didn’t want to, and then she wanted to? What do I really want? And why is it all so changeable?

“They don't feel sorry for children,” I once heard from a friend who also accidentally became pregnant and gave birth in a not the most prosperous situation. They may not regret the children, but they do regret the inevitable changes in their lives, and how. And they are ashamed of these regrets, and blame themselves, and drive these feelings away ...

Decree is a difficult time, when fatigue, loneliness and Groundhog Day make you want to either climb a wall or “run up and jump off a cliff”. But once upon a time there was another life, and at such moments I terribly want to return it. I want all these diapers, snot, cereals and rattles to disappear in an instant and everything becomes as before.

“After the birth of my daughter, I was covered with guilt for a long time. How could I not want her? How could I not love her, not wait? But do I love her enough now, if I never wanted to? .. "0003

The question “Am I a good enough mother?” occurs in many women, but in a situation where the child was not initially desired, he gets up especially sharply. And all the so-called negative emotions that arise in the process - anger, impotence, longing - each time return the woman to the thoughts that, perhaps, it is so difficult for her precisely because she did not want to give birth.

Envy arises towards other abstract women who wanted, and waited, and steadfastly endure the hardships of motherhood, and enjoy it. And also shame that a woman herself cannot do this. And resentment that other children have "normal" mothers. And again shame, and again guilt ...

An unwanted pregnancy has one indisputable advantage. They usually don't expect anything good from her and prepare in advance for difficulties. On the contrary, the older the daughter gets, the further I go into my own interests, my work, my life.

And this may also raise doubts: why do I pay so little attention to the child? Why don't I like to play with him? Maybe it's because I didn't want it? Despite all the progressiveness of thinking, we are all, of course, hostages of social stereotypes. nine0003

On the one hand, a modern woman should be both a Swiss and a reaper. On the other hand, what kind of mother is this, who puts her own interests above the child? It can take a long time to believe in your good enough motherhood.

“I wasn't expecting a baby. I was waiting for a cat in a poke.

However, an unwanted pregnancy has one indisputable advantage. They usually do not expect anything good from her and prepare in advance for difficulties. And the less expectations, the less disappointments and more amazing discoveries. Especially when the worst assumptions are not justified. nine0003

Especially when you manage to accept and love this new life, which you didn't want so much from the beginning. And, perhaps, this is much more pleasant than being in a situation where you can’t accept and love what you so passionately desired.

The opinion of the author may not coincide with the opinion of the editors.

About the author

Olga Zaretskaya — psychologist.

Photo source: Getty Images

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