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Making decisions about unplanned pregnancies

5-minute read

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 as they 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 be in conflict with each other, it’s important to take the time to process them.

What options are available?

There are 3 options to consider with an unplanned pregnancy:

  • Continuing with your pregnancy and raising your child.
  • Continuing with your pregnancy followed by adoption or alternative care (for example, with extended family or foster care).
  • Terminating your pregnancy, known as an 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 your 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. The counsellors at Pregnancy, Birth and Baby are available for all members of your family to talk to.

Where can I get help?

Decision making tools

Support services

Where to get help

The Pregnancy, Birth and Baby maternal child health nurses are there to support and guide you. The service is available 7 days a week.

If you would like to talk to our nurses about your pregnancy or find out more about your pregnancy options, call 1800 882 436.

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

Last reviewed: June 2022


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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 NSW 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

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 NSW website

Counselling before and after an abortion

Counselling before and after an abortion can help you to feel supported and empowered to make the right decision for you.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby 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

Information for Parents and Carers RFFADA

Information for Parents and Carers Drug and alcohol referral Sometimes drug and alcohol issues for people with FASD can not only take on a life of their own but can also create many other issues

Read more on rffada – Russell Family Fetal Alcohol Disorders Association 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?

This information is for your general information and use only and is not intended to be used as medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes.

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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