Dealing with an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy will be one of the biggest challenges you (and your partner) will face. You may be concerned about your increased sense of responsibility or grieve the loss of your current independent lifestyle.
If you are in a stable relationship, you and your partner may not have the resources to accommodate a new baby. For example, you may be in school, or unemployed. You may also be concerned that your career will be compromised.
An unwanted pregnancy can also be challenging if you are a single woman or in a relationship that you fear may not continue.
Even if you have been actively trying to have a child and perhaps going through fertility treatment, you may be shocked if to find out that you are going to have twins or triplets.
Emotions You May Experience with an Unplanned Pregnancy:
- Shocked and overwhelmed
- Confused, anxious and sad
- Guilty and regretting you were not more careful
- Critical of yourself and feeling responsible
- Isolated and alone
- Worried about not feeling an attachment towards your unborn baby
- Anxious because your life feels out of control
Steps to Take in the Event of an Unplanned Pregnancy
Trying to wrap your mind around an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy can be a big task. Making significant decisions about your pregnancy when you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed is not a good idea. Instead, take your time and think through your situation prior to taking action. Here are some helpful tips for you as you are going through this process:
Talk to your partner, if you have one
Explore how each of you thinks and feels about becoming a parent- respect each other’s rights and responsibilities. You may be surprised to discover that each of you feels differently than what you expected. Discuss how pregnancy is going to influence your life- together and individually. If you feel your partner is being disrespectful or pressuring you one way or the other, take it as a sign of what your future relationship co-parenting a child will be like, should you decide to go through with the pregnancy.
Make an appointment with your doctor or midwife to learn what your options are.
Meet with your religious leader
If you decide not to have the child and your religious or moral beliefs do not agree with abortion, meet with religious leaders to see how they can support you. You may also meet with adoption agencies and see what they have to offer.
Seek the support of friends
Talk to friends and family who can support you during this time. Find friends who can keep your news confidential until you decide what to do. Ensure those you choose to talk to will not judge you and will allow you space to think as you make a decision. Ask them to listen to you without giving unsolicited advice or sharing their own stories, unless you ask them to do so.
If you and your partner disagree about your options, or if you feel stuck and have difficulty making a decision, counseling can help. It will provide space for you and your partner to think and help avoid conflict. You may even discover that the problem is not the pregnancy, but some issues in the relationship that need to be addressed. Even if you are clear about your decision, it may be useful to meet with a counselor to reflect upon your options and avoid later regrets.After the initial shock of discovering you are pregnant, you may find that you do not feel an emotional connection to your baby. If this is the case, counseling can help. If you feel obliged to continue with the pregnancy for religious or moral reasons, doing what is “right” may cause problems for you, your baby, and your partner later on. It is not uncommon to feel resentment and ambivalence toward the baby if this should happen. Counseling can help you sort out these mixed feelings.
Being able to have an emotional connection and bond with your baby is key to creating a healthy family for your child’s development. While it is true that an unwanted pregnancy will not necessarily lead to an unwanted birth, it is likely that you, as the mother, will be the most affected by the consequences of the decision since you may be the primary caregiver for your child.
Research shows that when women say they do not feel they can adequately care for a child, it is important to listen to them. According to studies, unintended and unwanted pregnancies can have negative physical health and psychological outcomes. These include higher illness and mortality for both mother and child, as well as poor academic performance and poor social adjustment for children. These negative outcomes persist even when children are born to adult women with intact marriages and adequate economic resources.
If you are faced with an unwanted pregnancy and are having a hard time adjusting to the idea of being a mother, or if you feel lonely and unsupported, you may benefit from professional help. Having a therapist can help you clear your mind and figure out what would be the best solution for you or you and your family.
Call for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation at (281)267-1742
Dr. Irena Milentijevic is a licensed psychologist who specializes in helping mothers and those hoping to be mothers overcome stress, loss, and depression. Her offices are located in Houston and the Woodlands, Texas. Visit her website, www.DrIrena.com to get her free report, “Moms and Mom Wannabes: 10 Ways to Overcome Depression and Reclaim Your Sanity.”