An unplanned pregnancy is not always discovered under the best circumstances. For some women, a one-night-stand turns into a nine-month commitment. For others, a slip-up with birth control is all it takes to incite a positive pregnancy test. Maybe you gave up on getting pregnant after years of struggling with infertility and now life has taken you in a direction that doesn’t exactly align with parenthood. Not all unplanned pregnancies revolve around a stereotypical high school fling that resulted in a crisis pregnancy. Unplanned pregnancies are more common than you’d think—so you shouldn’t feel alone. If you find yourself in this position, look into these 12 pieces of unplanned pregnancy advice.
1. Take a Day
You aren’t the first and you surely won’t be the last person to stare down at those two pink lines and have a little (or big) panic attack. It’s okay. You’re okay. Your baby will be okay. Take a day to process how your entire life was just changed. If you need to call out of work, take a day off from school, or cancel some plans—give yourself permission right now to take a day for yourself. An unplanned pregnancy is nothing to back down from physically, mentally, or emotionally. Start learning what it means to embrace your unplanned pregnancy and don’t worry about tomorrow yet. Just take a day. This may be the most important piece of unplanned pregnancy advice you need.
2. Start a Journal
Pregnancy journals have become more and more popular. Imagine reading nine-months-worth of experiences your mother had when she was pregnant with you. Wouldn’t you love to know how she felt, when she first felt you kick, what kinds of cravings she had, and what funny pregnant stories she had to share about you? You can do that for your child by starting a daily or weekly journal. Maybe you’re not the writing type. Don’t you worry. I’m sure you have a phone or camera within arms reach to start journaling with a weekly picture of your pregnancy progress. Some mothers will put together a video of their progress pictures from a not-so-pregnant-looking to oh-my-gosh-I’m-about-to-pop. This could be a sweet gift for your child to watch one day; for them to be a part of your journey.
3. Confide in Someone Trustworthy
You may feel the instinct to hide when you discover an unplanned pregnancy. Believe it or not, even expected pregnancies are usually kept private for a couple of months after conception. While this is typically to avoid announcing a pregnancy that could still be at risk of ending in a miscarriage, you too have the right to your privacy. This probably isn’t something you want to splash across social media right away. At the same time, don’t shy away from sharing your news with someone. Perhaps a parent, partner, roommate, or friend can be a resource of support in the early days of your pregnancy. Be weary of telling just anyone. You will probably want some time to process your pregnancy and find your footing before making an announcement about your pregnancy.
4. Don’t Procrastinate Medical Care
Your doctor should be one of your first phone calls after learning you are pregnant. A doctor can confirm your pregnancy, identify any potential health risks that may be of concern throughout your pregnancy, and get you started with healthy practices for your pregnancy. You will meet with your doctor regularly throughout your pregnancy to check on your health and the health of your baby. Don’t procrastinate this step. Although your health appointments will be spaced further apart early on, you will want to know of any health risks for yourself or your baby as soon as possible. If insurance or financing is a concern, you can work with an adoption agency to make a financial plan. They may point you in the direction of applying for government assistance or even help fund your medical care. Never let a fear of finances stop you from going to the doctor as soon as possible.
5. Start Tracking
Your doctor can help you determine a due date once you’ve gone in for your first check-up. After that, you’ll want to start tracking your pregnancy. Apps are very helpful in doing this. You can see what your body is doing, how big your baby has grown, and what is typical behavior for how far along you are. Even though the start of your pregnancy was unplanned, it doesn’t mean you can’t make a plan for the rest of your pregnancy. Schedule out your doctors appointments, baby shower, pregnancy classes, and any other appointments you need to make ahead of time. The next nine months will probably be the fastest and slowest of your life, so keep track of your pregnancy so as to not lose track of time.
6. Make a Budget
Your doctor’s appointments will not be the only thing draining your bank account throughout your pregnancy. Clothes, groceries, and other maternity expenses like pillows, massages, and medicines will likely also contribute to your expenses every month. Even if you don’t anticipate expenses causing you unnecessary stress throughout your pregnancy, you might consider creating a budget to manage these expenses. If you are an expectant mother considering adoption, this is another area that an adoption agency can help you in managing. If you are anticipating affording the different expenses that a pregnancy can accrue, many adoption agencies will be able to compensate you for those expenses. They may even be able to provide transportation to and from appointments.
7. Plan an Announcement
At some point, your pregnant belly is going to give away the big secret. If you’re hoping to keep your unplanned pregnancy under wraps, there are different options for you. But keep in mind, unplanned pregnancies are much more socially acceptable now than ever before. If you feel stress or shame about the reception of your unplanned pregnancy, perhaps seek out a counselor who can help you recognize and cope with those feelings. That being said, start to consider how you’d like to announce your pregnancy. If you do choose to make a public announcement, there are many fun ideas all over the internet of creative announcements. If you do choose to keep your news more private, consider how you’ll tell your loved ones and those who will be directly affected by your unplanned pregnancy. If the child’s father is a part of the picture, he may be one of the first people you will tell about your unplanned pregnancy. Remember how you felt when you learned of your unplanned pregnancy and be sensitive to your partner’s need to process the news himself.
8. Adjust to Pregnant Life
You may already be feeling the less-than-luxurious side effects of pregnant life. You may be nauseous, you’ll eventually feel swollen, maybe you’ll experience some unique symptoms. An adjustment to pregnant life is more than just dealing with physical changes. You’ll also notice major changes in your diet, exercise routine, and wardrobe. It might be some time before you grow out of your clothes, but you’ll definitely want to start making some necessary changes to your diet as soon as possible. Certain foods like deli meat and fish can be dangerous for your pregnancy. Talk to your doctor more about your diet and what types of changes you need to make for a healthy pregnancy. Another aspect of pregnant life is exercise. It is often recommended to stay moderately active throughout your pregnancy. Sometimes a daily walk is all it takes to get your heart rate up. As time goes on, you’ll notice the need for a shopping spree. Progressively fill your closet with maternity clothes on an as-needed basis. You may only be wearing most of these pieces for a few more months, but your comfort should be a priority moving forward.
9. Take Care of Yourself
You know yourself better than anyone else. You know your limits, your triggers, and your standards. Moving forward, you are going to face a great deal of stress. Take care of yourself in whatever way you need to: mentally, emotionally, physically, and maybe even spiritually. If you need to make an appointment with a counselor, pick up the phone. If you need to join a gym, strap on your running shoes. If you need to find some inner peace, contact your religious or spiritual leader. Becoming pregnant turns your life around. You start considering how each of your choices will affect your baby and how that in turn will affect your futures. Do not let this time pass without taking care of yourself. You can only do your best for your baby if you are giving yourself your best as well.
10. Gather Your Resources
It takes a village to raise a baby. It takes a tribe to bring it into the world. Find your tribe and gather your resources as soon as possible. You’ll want a solid support system of family, friends, and agency workers if you are considering adoption. These people can be your sounding board as you face some difficult decisions that come with an unplanned pregnancy. Are you ready to parent? Are you ready to parent again if you already have children? Will you consider adoption? Does a child align with your lifestyle? While you will be the ultimate decision-maker in this process, it is important to remember that you have social resources to help you through the tough times.
11. Educate Yourself
Learn about your options. Unplanned pregnancies take various different paths. Depending on your situation, you could be faced with a difficult decision. You essentially have three options. Your first option is to parent your child. You may see that your lifestyle and goals will not be interrupted by a child, and if they are, you are willing to make the necessary changes to combat those challenges. If an unplanned pregnancy turns out to be an unwanted pregnancy, you have two other options: termination and adoption. Terminating your pregnancy is a very difficult decision that you should consider carefully. The long-term emotional and physical consequences of a terminated pregnancy may not be worth it to you. Speak with an unbiased professional before you make any hasty decisions. The last option is adoption. Adoption is your solution if you’d like to both carry your baby to term, but also choose not to parent once your baby is born. Adoptions can be arranged within a family, through an adoption agency, or through the state in cases of a delayed adoption plan. No matter what your next step is, an essential is an education. Learn as much as you can about each option before you commit because it is that—a commitment.
12. Consider Adoption
Adoption is not for everyone. If you find yourself facing an unplanned pregnancy and feel like this might be your path, don’t shy away from it. Adoption is a wonderful alternative to parenting and abortion. Although it can be painfully tragic to carry a child to term, hold him or her, and then place that child with another family, for some, it is the best decision. Adoption allows a child to be raised by a family or individual who is prepared and often unable to start a family themselves. For an expectant parent, adoption allows someone to have the experience of pregnancy and birth-parenthood without the lifelong commitment of parenthood. There are different types of adoption that can cater to your needs. These options can dictate how much contact you will have with the adoptive family after placement. If adoption is something that you are considering, reach out to an adoption agency like The Gladney Center for Adoption to learn more about your options.
Unplanned pregnancy advice is not that different than planned pregnancy advice. An unplanned pregnancy is not the end of the world. Can it rock your world? Absolutely. But you will manage. Follow this unplanned pregnancy advice to ease the pressure off of the initial shock you may feel. Take one step at a time and don’t shy away from your resources. There are people and organizations ready to help you as you go down this new road that may have been unplanned, but it is not untraveled. Take this unplanned pregnancy advice and the next step today.