Making decisions about unplanned pregnancies
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 more information and support?
Decision making tools
- Family Planning — Pregnancy: Working through your options booklet.
- Children By Choice — Making a decision online tool.
- Contact a family planning clinic in your state or territory.
- Information for men — call MensLine Australia on 1300 78 99 78.
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.
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Last reviewed: June 2022