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How to Tell the Father About an Unplanned Pregnancy

Sharing the Surprise with Your Partner

An unplanned pregnancy is one of the most disruptive surprises possible. You probably have plans for your life — dreams you want to see realized and goals you hope to accomplish. Then this news comes crashing in, completely uninvited. The range of emotions you may be feeling is totally normal and expected.

After you’ve begun to work through some of these initial reactions, you can move on to some of the more practical considerations. One of the first items on your list could be figuring out how to tell the father about an unplanned pregnancy.

You probably have a lot of questions, and you may feel nervous. No matter what your situation is, this can be a difficult thing to do. Whether you’re preparing for telling a husband about an unplanned pregnancy or wondering how to tell a boyfriend about an unplanned pregnancy, this can be a hard conversation to have.

Every relationship is different, which means this conversation is going to look different for each person. Below, find a few pieces of advice to help you share the news in the best way possible.

How to Tell the Father: Unplanned Pregnancy

Did you know the nearly half of all pregnancies in the U.S. each year are unplanned? There are nearly two million women each year who ask the same question as you. You’re not alone in trying to figure this situation out.

First things first: Confirm you are pregnant. It’s a good idea to wait to tell the father about a pregnancy until you are 100 percent sure. While at-home pregnancy tests are generally reliable, it’s always good to check with a doctor to verify.

Once you are sure of your pregnancy, you can start considering how to tell the father. Unplanned pregnancy news can be hard to handle, so you’ll want to prepare for this conversation as much as possible. Don’t just wait for the moment and wing it; have a solid plan before you begin.

When you are ready to tell the father about the pregnancy, you should:

  • Be Direct and Honest: This isn’t a situation for subtlety. While it can be difficult and awkward, it’s best to come out with what you need to say in a direct way.

  • Choose the Right Setting: This is a conversation best held in person and in private. Even though it is much easier to send a text or break the news in a public setting with plenty of distractions, that usually isn’t the best way to have this talk. Choose a safe, private setting when telling a husband or boyfriend about an unplanned pregnancy. If you are worried about how he may react, have a trusted friend waiting nearby just in case.

  • Give Space for His Reaction: You’ve had time to process this surprise, but he hasn’t. Try to remember all of the emotions you felt when you discovered your pregnancy. There may have been anger, confusion, happiness, fear and other emotions. Give him the space to have these emotions, too. It’s okay if the immediate reaction isn’t totally positive; he may just need time to process your announcement. (Of course, it's not okay if he becomes violently angry. If you are worried about the father reacting in a potentially harmful way, consider contacting a counselor for advice before approaching him with your news.) 

Types of Relationship with the Father

All of this advice is contingent on your relationship with the birth father. When you’re facing an unplanned pregnancy, how to tell a husband may look different than how to tell a boyfriend or man you have only a casual relationship with. If you don’t want to tell the father about the pregnancy, or you feel unsafe telling the father, then the situation may be completely different. That’s why you need to clearly understand which type of relationship you have and how it may affect the way you share your news.

  • Husband: An unplanned pregnancy in a healthy marriage is a common occurrence. That doesn’t necessarily mean it will be easy; just because you are married doesn’t mean you are always ready for children. But, it does mean this is a respectful conversation you should be able to have, and hopefully you and your husband can support each other through this surprise.

  • Boyfriend: There’s a wide range of circumstances in this category. Obviously, how to tell a boyfriend about an unplanned pregnancy is going to be easier if you have been together for years rather than just dating for a few months. Either way, if you feel safe doing so, it is good to have this talk early on and give your boyfriend a chance to be supportive and involved.

  • Casual or Unknown: If the father of the baby is from a casual relationship or is unknown, how you announce your news will be handled on a case-by-case basis. Ultimately, this is your body and your baby, so you get to make the decision about what to do next. Keep your safety in mind first; you should never have this conversation if it could be dangerous for you. There are always support hotlines you can call to speak with a professional about your relationship, unplanned pregnancy and possible next steps.

How Do Men React to Unplanned Pregnancy?

When you’re facing an unplanned pregnancy, telling your boyfriend or husband can be intimidating — especially when you’re not sure how he will react.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to predict exactly how someone will respond to the news of your pregnancy. Every situation is different, and not every man’s reaction will be the same. How your partner reacts will depend on his personal situation and views on unplanned pregnancy.

However, there are some common feelings a man might experience when you tell him of your unintended pregnancy:

  • Shock: Unplanned pregnancies are just that — unplanned. Your husband’s or boyfriend’s initial reaction will likely be one of surprise. Remember your own feelings when you first took that pregnancy test, and try to give your baby’s father time for that initial shock to wear off.

  • Joy and Excitement: Many men want to be fathers. Even if this pregnancy was unintended, a man might respond with pure happiness. If you think he is prepared to step up and support you as the father of your baby, and if you agree that you feel ready to parent, this might be the response that you were hoping for! However, it’s important to consider your own feelings about this pregnancy, and to be realistic about your and the father’s ability to care for this child before you make any big decisions.

  • Anger or Denial: Think about your own feelings when you learned of your unplanned pregnancy. You might have had a negative reaction at first. Maybe you were disappointed or even angry that you found yourself in this difficult situation. Maybe you didn’t even want to believe it was true. These feelings of disappointment, anger and denial are common for men as well. Sometimes, when a man is upset at the news of an unplanned pregnancy, it’s best to give him some space to process his feelings. If you are worried that the father may become violent if he learns of an unplanned pregnancy, do not talk to him alone; reach out for help first.

  • Fear: Finally, some feelings of fear and nervousness are common among all expectant parents — and maybe especially when a pregnancy is unplanned. These feelings can be amplified if you or the father are facing other challenges in your lives. An unplanned pregnancy is overwhelming, and not knowing what to do next can be scary. If this describes your situation, you can always call 1-800-ADOPTION for the support you both need.

Most commonly, a man will respond with a complicated mix of these and many other emotions. Hopefully, no matter what his personal feelings are about the pregnancy, his response is a mature and supportive one. When you tell the father of an unplanned pregnancy, you deserve encouragement and to be treated with respect. Remember that regardless of how the father reacts to your unplanned pregnancy, this is your body, your baby, your life and your choice.

Unplanned Pregnancy Options

Regardless of your situation with the father, you have several unplanned pregnancy options. When thinking about how to tell the father of an unplanned pregnancy, it may be good to have these in mind. Going into the conversation with an idea of how you would like to move forward can be helpful.

  • Parenting: Most unplanned pregnancies end in parenting. If you are in a position where you and your partner can successfully raise a baby, this may be your first choice. In this case, you can even have some fun with the reveal. Embrace the exciting part of this surprise!

  • Abortion: For many women, parenting isn’t an option. In these cases, you do have a right to terminate your pregnancy. Abortion laws are different in every state, and some states are very restrictive. Find out what the laws are in your state to see if abortion is an option for you, and weigh the pros and cons of abortion carefully before making a decision.

  • Adoption: Alternatively, you could choose adoption for your baby. If raising a child is impossible but you still want to give your baby the opportunity to have a fulfilling life, adoption can be the best choice you’ll ever make. There are also many benefits of adoption for birth mothers and birth fathers along the way.

Ultimately, when you are facing an unplanned pregnancy, how to tell your husband or boyfriend is up to you — and so is the decision of what to do next. For professional counseling and support during this process, you can always call 1-800-ADOPTION to speak with an unbiased adoption specialist, or start by requesting free information here. These specialists will help you understand all of your options — not just adoption — so that you can make the best choice for your life.

Disclaimer
Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. America Adoptions, Inc. 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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