How to Discuss an Unplanned Pregnancy
Whether you’re married with kids, dating, or a teenager, telling the people you love that you are pregnant and that it was unplanned can be a difficult conversation to have. No matter how you feel about the pregnancy – excited, scared, unhappy, thrilled – you’re trying to process your own emotions and may have to face someone else’s emotions – emotions that may be similar or very different than yours – as well. While every woman in the situation needs to do what is right for her, we’ve compiled this list of tips to help you start a conversation about an unplanned pregnancy if you’re looking for a little guidance.
Confirm the Pregnancy
If you are emotionally close with your partner, you may feel comfortable telling him that you think you may be pregnant, before you confirm whether or not that’s true. But, many women prefer to know for sure before getting into that conversation. You can take an at-home pregnancy test, but the best way to be totally sure is to see a doctor.
Examine Your Feelings
First of all, you need to know that you’re not alone. Did you know that roughly half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned? That’s right: HALF. Unfortunately, our society often looks down on women who get pregnant accidentally. But that’s baloney because – chances are –women who have more than one child have probably became pregnant accidentally at least once.
But an unplanned pregnancy can involve emotions far more complex than “how did this happen?!” If you are not in the right place personally, financially, or in your relationship to have a child, an unplanned pregnancy may bring up negative emotions. Even if you are perfectly able to support a child in your life, financially and emotionally, you may still have mixed emotions. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge those emotions. If you need help sorting it out, talk to a counselor, a therapist or a close friend.
Practice What You’re Going to Say
Next, give some thought as to how you are going to tell your partner or your parents. Again, you might want to bounce ideas off a counselor or a close friend. Practice what you are going to say. Plan to be straightforward and clear.
Plan When You Are Going to Have the Talk
Do yourself and your partner or parents a favor and don’t broach the subject when one of you is about to rush out the door for work or in a public place or busy doing something else. Your partner or your parents may have immediate reactions that require time and privacy, even if they welcome the news. Make sure they will have time to discuss with you your feelings, as well as theirs.
Try not to use negative words like “bad news” or “I hope you’re not angry.” This will only set your partner or parents on edge before you tell them. Give them the information as clearly as possible and let them respond organically.
If you are discussing this with a partner, you may want to incorporate pronouns that emphasize that it was both of you who did this together. For instance, “we’re pregnant” or “we’re having a baby” may remind your partner that it takes two to tango and you didn’t do this all on your own.
Keep Your Cool
Sometimes, when a pregnancy is unplanned, your partner or your parents’ first reaction may be negative. Be prepared for this mentally and if they are angry or upset, try your best to stay calm, even if they say hurtful things. Remember that you have had some time to process the shock of an unplanned pregnancy: now it’s their turn to go through a radical mental shift. Sometimes even when eventually people are happy, their initial reaction may take the form of a less position emotion, so give them the time and space to work through it. But if the conversation starts becoming very negative, if you feel like you can’t stay calm, or if you feel threatened in anyway, leave.
Decide Whether to Discuss Further Now or Later
Once the news is out there, decide together whether your partner or parents need sometime to think about their feelings alone or if they want to discuss things further right then. They may want to know how you feel and what options you are considering, but they may need to process their own emotions first. Be prepared to give them some space, but ask that you decide together when you will revisit the topic – and make it within 48 hours.
Be Able to Express Your Feelings Openly and Honestly
Are you excited and happy? Are you worried about the financial burden of a child? Are you scared? Are you considering abortion or adoption? These are likely questions that your partner or parents will have for you and hopefully you will be ready to answer them. Don’t be afraid to admit that your feelings are conflicted – that is very common. Remember, whether it’s your partner or your parents, optimally, they want to see you happy and healthy and will be there to help you.
If you feel you are not getting the support you need from them, find a counselor to speak to. If you are a teenager and you cannot talk openly with your parents about your feelings and your wishes, there are teen pregnancy hotlines, doctors, and, for some people, older relatives, friends, or even teachers, who may be able to emotionally support you.
If Possible, Make a Decision Together
Whether or not you are going to have a baby impacts everyone in your life – your partner, your other children, your parents (even if you’re an adult and especially if you’re a teenager). You and your partner should discuss your feelings and options and together may a decision about whether to have the baby, have an abortion, or consider adoption.
If you are a teenager, this conversation will likely be even more complicated because your parents may have to take financial responsibility for your child if you are still in school or do not have substantial help from the baby’s father. Your parents’ wishes may conflict with yours: perhaps you want to keep the baby while your parents want you to end the pregnancy. Or maybe it’s the other way around. While it’s best if you all agree, that may not be possible. In the end, it will be your decision.
The doctors and staff at Women’s Aid Center are here to support your throughout this process. Whether you need to make an appointment to determine whether or not you are pregnant, need to know more about your options, need support while making your decision, or have decided to terminate your pregnancy, we are here for you. Please call 800-998-4751 to make an appointment.