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Making decisions about unplanned pregnancies

8-minute read

What are the signs I might be pregnant?

The first signs that you might be pregnant are that:

  • you miss a period
  • you feel very tired
  • your breasts are sore or swollen
  • you need to urinate a lot
  • you feel nauseous

How do I confirm I am pregnant?

There are different ways to confirm you are pregnant. One way is to buy a home pregnancy test from a pharmacy or supermarket. This will test your urine for a hormone that is produced during pregnancy. You can do this test from the first day your period is due. Make sure you follow the instructions on the test kit carefully.

The next step is to see your doctor for a urine test or blood test. The blood test can pick up an early pregnancy a few days earlier than the urine test. If you are pregnant, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible.

Reactions to an unplanned pregnancy

An unplanned pregnancy can raise different and sometimes confusing feelings and thoughts — this is very normal. Even if a pregnancy is unplanned, it may still be wanted.

A number of things might affect how you feel about an unplanned pregnancy. If you are unsure of what to do, you are not alone. While you might know what you want from the outset, you might also find the decision-making process difficult.

Your feelings can seem confusing since they can often conflict with each other. For example, you may feel:

  • anxious, as you consider having a baby (or another baby)
  • scared, because you don’t know how to be a parent
  • concerned, if your current relationship is not stable
  • joy, because this is something you have always dreamed about
  • excited, as this may be a new opportunity for you

Even if your feelings seem to conflict with each other, it’s important to take the time to process them.

If you are a victim of sexual assault, you may wish to report the sexual assault to police.

What options are available?

If you are pregnant, you have a few options:

Keep the baby

You can have the baby either with a partner or as a single parent. See your doctor as soon as you can for information about what to do next.

Read more about maternity care option in Australia, pregnancy check-ups, screening and scans and how to tell people you are pregnant.

Have the baby and have them adopted

Adoption permanently transfers all legal rights and responsibilities for the baby to their adoptive parents.

Read more about adoption.

Have the baby and put them in foster care or kinship care

If you are not sure about adoption, but you are also not sure whether you can look after a baby, foster care or kinship could be a temporary solution.

  • Foster care — another person or family care for your child while you work towards looking after them permanently.
  • Kinship care — your child is raised by extended family.

In both cases, you can still see the baby while they are in care (sometimes called out-of-home care).

Read more about foster care or kinship care.

Have an abortion

An abortion ends the pregnancy so the baby is not born. Depending on how many weeks pregnant you are, you could have an abortion by taking medication or by having a surgical procedure. Abortion, sometimes called termination, is safe and does not affect your ability to have children in future. The first step is to see your doctor or family planning clinic as soon as possible.

Read more about abortion.

It can be helpful to talk to someone you know and trust. Many people find it is useful to speak to a professional, like a doctor or a counsellor. Counsellors can help you work through the emotional, financial and practical issues involved with all of the options available to you. It might also be helpful to talk to someone who has been through a similar experience.

How do I make this decision?

As well as your feelings, there are many things to consider when making a decision. This can often add to this stressful time.

It might help you to:

  • Sleep on it — don’t rush your decision (but remember that some options are influenced by how many weeks pregnant you are).
  • Give yourself permission to explore and think about all your options.
  • Be kind to yourself — you may feel differently about your options on different days, and that’s OK.
  • Find as much information about what you need to support your decision (such as what support networks are available to you).
  • Look after yourself physically and emotionally.
  • Remember that the best person to make this decision is you.

It is important that you take the time you need to make the best decision for you at this point in your life.

What role will my partner have?

It is up to you how you will involve your partner when making this decision. The circumstances of your relationship may affect how you feel about involving your partner.

You are the only person who can refuse or consent to an abortion. No one else can force you to have an abortion or continue with your pregnancy.

If you are considering adoption, it’s important to remember that both birth parents must consent to a child’s adoption. How partners make this decision will differ depending on the circumstances of the relationship.

You may want to attend counselling together, or you or your partner may want to discuss your feelings alone.

Resources and support

Decision making tools

Support services

Your doctor or local family planning clinic can be a good place to start.

Other places that offer non-biased counselling and support include:

The Pregnancy, Birth and Baby maternal child health nurses are there to support and guide you, and help you find out more about your pregnancy options.

Speak to a maternal child health nurse

Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: September 2023

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Need more information?

Yarning About Pregnancy Options | Family Planning NSW

This resource was designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who have an unplanned pregnancy and are unsure of what to do. This culturally safe booklet uses a friendly conversational style and includes information about the options available, issues to consider, where to go for support and tools to assist decision-making.

Read more on Family Planning Australia website

Unplanned Pregnancy | I don't want to be pregnant | Adoption | Abortion | Other pregnancy options - Sexual Health Victoria

If you are pregnant and do not want to be it is your choice what you would like to do. Unplanned pregnancy is very common and there are many support services av

Read more on Sexual Health Victoria website

Family planning and unplanned pregnancy | Health and wellbeing | Queensland Government

An unplanned pregnancy may trigger different emotions, and you will need to make important decisions. Support and advice is available.

Read more on Queensland Health website

Pregnancy Options | 1800 My Options

If you have an unplanned pregnancy, you can choose to either have an abortion, or continue the pregnancy and parent, or choose alternative care arrangements.

Read more on 1800 My Options website

Pregnant? Working through your options | Family Planning NSW

A booklet for people who have an unintended pregnancy (or those who work with them) and are unsure of what to do.

Read more on Family Planning Australia website

Pregnancy Options - Sexual Health Victoria

Sexual Health Victoria (formally Family Planning Victoria) focuses on reproductive and sexual health care, education and advocacy. Our vision is to improve ever

Read more on Sexual Health Victoria website

Pregnancy Options - Sexual Health Victoria

Sexual Health Victoria (formally Family Planning Victoria) focuses on reproductive and sexual health care, education and advocacy. Our vision is to improve ever

Read more on Sexual Health Victoria website

MS-2 Step (medical abortion medicine)

MS-2 Step is taken for medical abortion. It includes 2 medicines: mifepristone and misoprostol, which terminate (end) the pregnancy.

Read more on healthdirect website


There are many reasons someone might choose to terminate a pregnancy. Counselling can help you understand your options. Learn about the process.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Brave FoundationDirectory of Services - Brave Foundation

Find services for young parents or you can request to add or update a listing on the Directory of Services at any time.

Read more on Brave Foundation website

Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

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The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

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