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What To Do With an Unplanned Pregnancy

Steps to Take When Pregnant and Considering Your Options

After finding out about an unplanned pregnancy, there are likely countless thoughts running through your head at once: I’m pregnant and don’t know what to do. What are my options? How will I ever decide what to do with an unplanned pregnancy? What are the first steps to take after finding out you’re pregnant? What happens now?

Fortunately, you have a wide variety of resources to help you answer these questions, move forward and determine which of your unplanned pregnancy options is right for you. What to do if you’re pregnant will ultimately always be up to you; you are the only person who can decide how to handle an unexpected pregnancy and decide which of your options is best for you and your baby.

But this is a big decision, and you don’t have to face it alone. If you’re wondering who to talk to or where to go when you find out you’re pregnant, you can always start by contacting American Adoptions at 1-800-ADOPTION. Your call is free, confidential and does not obligate you to pursue adoption. Our unbiased counselors will never tell you how to handle your unplanned pregnancy or which decision to make; instead, we are here to provide guidance, support and resources for any woman who is pregnant and not sure what to do next.

How to handle an unplanned pregnancy may be different for each individual woman based on her unique circumstances, so it’s important to talk to a professional for guidance in your specific situation. In the meantime, we’ve outlined some of the general steps to take when pregnant for you here. As you navigate this time in your life, these are some of the things you may need to consider to move forward with your unplanned pregnancy.

The First Steps When Finding Out You’re Pregnant

So, the results are in — and now you’re thinking, “I’m pregnant; now what?” Unplanned pregnancy can affect women in many different ways, so some of your first steps after finding out you’re pregnant should be to work through your own feelings and come to terms with this unexpected situation. In general, here are some of the first steps to take when pregnant unexpectedly:

Step 1: Confirm your pregnancy with a doctor.

The first step of pregnancy, whether planned or unplanned, should always be to consult with a doctor. Your doctor can confirm your pregnancy and determine how far along you are, which could impact the options that are available to you. He or she can also help you make a plan for prenatal care until you decide which pregnancy option is right for you.

Your doctor will be able to answer any questions you might have about pregnancy, childbirth or abortion and refer you to additional resources as needed. From there, you can determine what your pregnancy next steps are.

Step 2: Sort through your feelings.

When faced with an unplanned pregnancy, what to do will depend largely on how you feel about the pregnancy. For example, what to do with an unplanned pregnancy you feel excited and hopeful about will obviously be different from what to do if you don’t want to be pregnant. But determining exactly how you feel about your unplanned pregnancy isn’t always that simple.

Know that feelings of shock, anger, denial and depression are common; an unexpected pregnancy can bring on a wide range of emotions, all of which are normal at this stage. As you cope with this sudden life change, give yourself time to process all of your thoughts and feelings. You can always reach out to an unplanned pregnancy counselor for help determining how you feel about this pregnancy and, therefore, how to handle the pregnancy going forward.

Step 3: Explore your options.

Women wondering what to do if pregnant generally have three options: raise the child, end the pregnancy, or place the child for adoption. It’s important to learn as much as you can about all of these options so you can make an informed decision you feel good about; you can read more about each of them below.

What to do if you accidentally get pregnant is a choice only you can make; this is your decision, and no one knows you, your baby or your situation like you do. However, if you need help deciding how to handle an unwanted pregnancy or unplanned pregnancy, there are many options counselors available to provide guidance and support. You can always contact an adoption specialist or reach out to an options counselor for more information about your choices.

Step 4: Build a support system.

When you’re facing an unplanned pregnancy, what to do and who to tell will always be up to you. Telling loved ones about your unexpected pregnancy can be intimidating, and it’s understandable why you may want to decide what to do with an unwanted pregnancy before you share your news.

But, while keeping your unwanted pregnancy a secret is an option, it is usually recommended that you share the information with those close to you when you feel comfortable. By hiding your pregnancy, you may deprive yourself of much-needed support from family or close friends. Having even one close friend or family member to walk with you through your first steps after getting pregnant can be incredibly helpful.

Step 5: Get professional support.

Finally, know that you don’t have to go through any of pregnancy’s first steps alone. There are many places to go for support — you can find a variety of support groups and professionals to help you decide what to do if you have an unwanted pregnancy, including those at American Adoptions. You can contact our adoption specialists any time at 1-800-ADOPTION for free, unbiased counseling and support.

In the meantime, read on for some things to know about each of your options for unplanned or unwanted pregnancy and what to do to move forward.

Your Unplanned Pregnancy Options:


  • Women choose adoption out of love for their babies – An unfortunately common misconception is that women who place their babies for adoption are selfish or irresponsible. Rather than “giving up” their babies, these women make a difficult, loving decision in the best interests of their children.

  • There are a variety of adoption professionals – Many women choose to work with adoption agencies because they provide all of the necessary adoption services and more. Others may only need certain services and choose to work with an adoption attorney, facilitator, or law center.

  • You are in charge of your baby’s adoption – Adoption is your decision, and you will be in control of the process from beginning to end.

  • You get to choose and meet the baby’s family – Agencies like American Adoptions have adoptive family profiles to help you find the perfect family for your baby. Over the course of your pregnancy, you will be able to get to know them and ask them questions.

  • Adoption does not cost any money for birth mothers – In many cases, you may be eligible for compensation for pregnancy-related expenses.

  • Feelings of grief after an adoption are normal – Even in a perfect adoption experience, it is impossible not to wonder what life raising your baby would have been like. These feelings are not a sign that you have made the wrong decision — only that you love your baby.

  • You can have a lifelong relationship with your baby and the family – Because of open and semi-open adoptions, adoption is no longer a permanent goodbye. You can see your child grow up, know how he or she is doing, and even talk to him or her about adoption.


  • Women choose abortion for various reasons – Some of the more common reasons a woman in your position might choose abortion include a desire to maintain privacy about a pregnancy or avoid the risks of pregnancy and childbirth.

  • There are two ways to obtain an abortion – Medical and surgical abortions are two different processes, each with advantages and disadvantages. Both must be done early in a pregnancy.

  • Each state has abortion laws – You may have to take specific measures to obtain an abortion, especially if you are under 18 years of age. Visit Planned Parenthood for more information.

  • The cost of abortion can vary – Abortion costs will depend on where you live, the facility you go to, the type of abortion you have and more.

  • While generally safe, there are some medical risks – There are some common, mild side effects of abortion, as well as rare, more severe ones. However, serious complications arise in less than one percent of abortions. Generally, neither type of abortion affects your future chances of getting pregnant.

  • There are also emotional risks of abortion – Some women may feel grief and loss after an abortion. There are many things you can do to prepare for this beforehand and recover afterward.

  • Not all information you will find is reliable – There are “crisis pregnancy centers” all around the country that are actually run by anti-abortion advocates. These places provide biased, misleading, and sometimes plain false information to vulnerable women.


  • If you are considering parenting, ask these questions:

    • Am I in a stable financial situation?

    • Can I provide a healthy home environment for a child?

    • Do I want to be a parent?

    • Do I want to be a parent now?

  • Education or career goals may be put on hold – When you decide to parent, raising your child becomes your first priority. The emotional and financial responsibilities of parenting might mean that school or certain jobs need to wait.

  • The outlook on single parenting is changing every day – The stigma surrounding unplanned pregnancy and single parenting has decreased immensely in recent years. Today, single parents are raising families more successfully than ever.

  • It costs over $245,000 to raise a child – From birth to age 18, the costs of raising a child include expenses like housing, education, food, and healthcare.

  • You have resources available to help you – Visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway and Parents Without Partners for information, education, and more.

Wondering what to do if you’re pregnant is not only normal, but it also demonstrates extreme selflessness and maturity by putting your child’s needs first. For more information about what to do if you accidentally get pregnant, you may contact an adoption specialist today confidentially and with no obligation at 1-800-ADOPTION.

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.

Additional Resources

Teen Pregnancy - Information for Young Women

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Do adoption terms and phrases leave you feeling confused? Learn the meaning to key adoption words and phrases with our comprehensive adoption glossary.

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