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Tips for Coping with an Unplanned Pregnancy [How to Move Forward]

If you were surprised by the results of your pregnancy test or worried because you don’t feel that you are ready to become a parent, we’re here to help you cope with your unplanned pregnancy. You can get free support and personalized guidance at any time by calling 1-800-ADOPTION.

Dealing with an unwanted pregnancy is going to be an emotional journey, and American Adoptions is here to guide you through it as best as we can. Below, we'll outline the 5 steps you can start taking right now to cope with this unexpected surprise, including:

  • Practice self-care

  • Take your time

  • Get support

  • Consider your options

  • Talk to a counselor

To get more support as you try to cope with your unplanned pregnancy, reach out to us today or call 1-800-ADOPTION. When you contact us, you will experience the empathetic guidance and support you deserve. Many of our staff members are adoptive parents and birth parents themselves, so we understand what you’re going through. You don’t have to go through it alone.

How to Accept an Unplanned Pregnancy

Coping with an unwanted pregnancy is a highly personal process. While this article can’t tell you exactly how to accept pregnancy in your specific circumstances, we have outlined some tips for coping with an unplanned pregnancy and moving forward with a decision you feel good about. 

Step 1: Practice self-care [Make healthy lifestyle changes]

The first step in dealing with an unplanned pregnancy is to confirm that you are indeed pregnant. Once it’s confirmed that you are, it’s important that you begin taking care of yourself and your baby as best you can — even if you don’t ultimately decide to keep your baby.

While you are in the initial phases of wondering how to deal with an unplanned pregnancy, taking care of yourself is a healthy way to move forward in the coping process:

  • If possible, schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider for your first prenatal visit to be screened for any issues that could lead to complications

  • If you use alcohol or drugs, stop doing so, as this could harm your baby

  • Begin watching what you eat and taking prenatal supplements

  • Be sure to get plenty of rest

  • Maintain a safe exercise regimen to help your body prepare for this journey

Step 2: Take your time to come to terms with being pregnant.

Dealing with unplanned pregnancy means dealing with all of the complicated emotions that come with it. Coping with an unplanned pregnancy will be a different process for everyone, but it’s likely to involve a gamut of emotions. If you are feeling shock, anger or depression, this is normal and to be expected.

  • Maybe you’re scared to tell the baby’s father.

  • Maybe you’re afraid of what people will think.

  • Maybe you thought you were being safe and are confused about how this could’ve happened.

  • Maybe you're feeling something completely different that isn't included in this list.

It is completely acceptable to acknowledge and process all of these thoughts and feelings. In fact, taking some time to work through these feelings will bring you much closer to ultimately accepting an unplanned pregnancy.

Even if you are sure you’re ready to be a mom (we’ll address this more later), it’s okay to be alarmed at the prospect of going through pregnancy and birth when you weren’t expecting to. These feelings may increase tenfold if you aren’t sure you wish to become a parent. There is no right way when it comes to how to deal with an unexpected pregnancy.

Step 3: Build a support system.

Dealing with pregnancy, especially when it is unplanned or even unwanted, can feel lonely. During this emotional time in your life, it’s important to have people in your corner. Your support system might be comprised of:

  • Your child’s father

  • Family members

  • Close friends 

  • A professional counselor

  • Anyone you trust and feel safe talking to

Anyone who will support your decisions as you move forward and work to help you in whatever ways you need can be an excellent person to have around when dealing with unexpected pregnancy.

However, it’s important to remember that no one else can tell you how to deal with being pregnant or what choice to make for yourself and your baby. Know that should someone be unsupportive of your wishes — whether that’s the father of your baby, a parent, a sibling, or a friend — that person does not have to be involved with your decision-making process. You and you alone know what’s right for you and your baby; everyone else must respect your right to deal with an unwanted pregnancy as you see fit.

Step 4: Learn everything you can about your unplanned pregnancy options.

Once you start making progress in coming to terms with being pregnant and feel ready to sit down and make a decision about how to move forward, it’s important to research all three of your unplanned pregnancy options. Every pregnant woman ultimately has three: parenting, abortion and adoption. As you try to decide how to deal with your unwanted pregnancy, there are certain questions you should ask yourself about each.

  1. Parenting: Am I ready to become a mother? Can I financially afford to raise a child? Am I mentally prepared to provide my baby with everything he or she needs? Will I have help raising this child?

  2. Abortion: Is abortion really a “quick fix” to this problem? How much will it cost? Does my state have any laws that may make this choice more difficult?

  3. Adoption: Do I want to choose an adoptive family for my baby? Will I get to see my baby again? Would adoption financial assistance make my pregnancy easier to handle?

You can speak with doctors, options counselors, and even adoption professionals to learn more about each of your options and how to deal with your pregnancy in the way that’s best for you. You may find that, after working through how to accept being pregnant and overcoming the initial shock of your unplanned pregnancy, you are actually hopeful and excited about the opportunity to raise your baby.

Or, as you are researching your options and coping with an unplanned pregnancy, you may find that adoption or abortion is a better way of dealing with your unwanted pregnancy right now — and that’s perfectly okay.   

Step 5: Speak with a counselor about how to cope with being pregnant unexpectedly.

At American Adoptions, we offer 24/7 counseling to pregnant women wondering how to deal with unplanned pregnancies. This is always an option for you if you want to speak with a licensed social worker about how to cope with an unexpected pregnancy, whether you ultimately end up choosing adoption or not.

A social worker can help you to process your emotions, determine which people in your life should be let in on your decision, learn more about each of your unplanned pregnancy options, and connect you with any and all resources to pursue adoption, in addition to simply providing a listening ear. Knowing how to accept an unplanned pregnancy isn’t easy, but it is the first step toward making the best possible decision for yourself and your pregnancy moving forward, and we are here to help. To get more information, contact American Adoptions at 1-800-ADOPTION today.

Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. American Adoptions provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is American Adoptions the right adoption agency choice for many birth mothers?

American Adoptions is one of the largest licensed adoption agencies in the United States. Each year, we work with thousands of women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy and offer assistance to these women. Our large, caring staff is able to assist you seven days a week and provide you with one-on-one counseling about your pregnancy and available options.

You should choose an adoption agency where you feel completely comfortable with their services and staff. With American Adoptions, you will work with an Adoption Specialist who is on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Adoption Specialist will be your advocate and will provide support and guidance as you create an adoption plan that is right for you.

How will the family tell my child about me and the adoption when my child is older?

Each family has their own style of introducing adoption to the child. When you are matched with an adoptive family, you can ask them this question. If you would like your Adoption Specialist to discuss it for you, just let her know. He or she can share your wishes or provide good ideas from other adoptive families.

You will also be able to share what you want your baby to know about you. You can complete a keepsake booklet to share hobbies, stories, photos of you and your family and a letter to your baby. The adoptive family can provide this to your child as he or she grows older. Be as creative as you like! Some birth mothers have even knitted a special blanket as a gift to their baby or given a similar symbol of their love.

The father of your baby can fill out the birth father's keepsake booklet or write a letter too. You may have other family members who would also like to share photos or a letter to the baby. This is your opportunity to pass on your and your family's love and to share your personality, history and reasons for choosing adoption. The adoptive family will treasure whatever information you provide and will share it with the baby at an appropriate age. In most adoptive homes, the word adoption is in the child's vocabulary early on, and adoption is celebrated in their lives.

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