You’re pregnant. You are in the bathroom, hiding from your parents or boyfriend. It’s the third test and that stick is showing a positive sign, two parallel red lines or two crossing lines. Whichever, you feel it in your stomach, that weight that is like a stone, mixed with panic and nausea. What are you going to do?
Here are the first 5 things you should do:
1.) TAKE YOUR TIME
Breathe. A positive pregnancy test can be overwhelming, especially when you are not expecting it. You thought you had been careful, you thought using protection or being on birth control would prevent this situation. Or maybe there was that one night with too many drinks and a reckless abandonment. Either way, the consequences are facing you now. It can be easy to panic. Don’t. Take a deep breath and realize that you have time. Do not rush into making any quick decisions that you may regret later. Remember, what you do with this pregnancy will have an impact on your future. Take your time to consider your unplanned pregnancy and what it could mean for you. Take a few days or a week (heck, two!) just to consider your options and what steps would be best for YOU to take. Remember, time allows you to make an informed decision. This is also an ideal time to recognize the pressures in your life, whether it be a significant other, disapproving parents, a church, your friends, a college scholarship, a new career, etc. You do NOT have to conform to the expectations of those around you. This is that time to really decide for yourself and your pregnancy what your next step is. Make it your decision because it is yours to make. No one else’s. (Read 5 Rights Every Woman Seeking Abortion Needs to Know)
2.) GET INFORMED/RECEIVE CONFIRMATION
One in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage in the first 7 weeks. There is also the chance that you received a false positive on your pregnancy test, even if you took more than one. First, it is important that you receive confirmation of your pregnancy. Many pregnancy and women’s clinics offer pregnancy tests for free (Schedule an appointment with White Oak Women’s Center to receive your free pregnancy test). Second, finding out how far along you are is critical to what options and choices you have. If you are considering terminating your pregnancy, most states allow up an abortion procedure up to 20 weeks. In most cases, a woman discovers she is pregnant at 5-8 weeks, following a missed period and symptoms. Third, discover as much as you can about your current reproductive health. Do you have an STD? This may impact a termination or a pregnancy. STD’s should be treated before a woman continues in her pregnancy or chooses to terminate. Are there other concerns about your pregnancy that could pose a risk to your health or the child’s? A gynecological examination can help you discover the state of your reproductive health… in other words, make sure everything is working as it should before making a decision about an unintended pregnancy.
3.) SHARE THE NEWS
You have confirmed the pregnancy. Now what? Perhaps you are still undecided about your pregnancy. That’s okay. However, during this time, having the support from friends and family closest to you will help you not feel alone. Family and friends may react in different ways, some ecstatic and supportive, others negative, maybe even judgmental. Remember, you are still in control of your decision. Breaking the news to a significant other or your parents or your friends is about freeing yourself from dealing with this revelation alone. Furthermore, other people who have gone through the same thing can often provide valuable support and advice. You may be facing the biggest obstacle in your life – you shouldn’t have to do it alone.
4.) PREPARE YOURSELF FOR REACTIONS
Understand that people may not respond to the news the way you had expected. Some may pressure you into making a decision about abortion, adoption or parenting. If they try to pressure you, remember that it is your decision to make and remind them that you would like their support in this time. People may come off as judgmental or close-minded, using condemning words or mean actions. Distance yourself from that negativity and allow yourself to rely on the people that show you love and support, providing you the resources, encouragement, information and time that you need to make an informed decision. This is also the time to examine yourself and evaluate your own expectations. Ask yourself these questions:
- Who in my life cares about me?
- How do I really feel about each of my options -abortion, adoption, parenting?
- How did I feel about each of my options before I found out I was pregnant?
- How will my choice affect my health? My body? My future?
- How will I feel about my decision one year from now? Ten years from now?1
Find a piece of scrap paper and jot down the first thoughts that come in your mind with these questions. Be honest with yourself. And then, find someone with whom you are comfortable to share your thoughts, such as your significant other, a parent, a friend, a nurse or a patient advocate. Let them help you work through your thoughts, give advice and support you in this decision.
5.) SEEK RESOURCES
Whether you choose to abort, adopt or parent, you should seek the appropriate resources. Consult a women’s clinic, like White Oak Women’s Center, or a medical facility, like a your local hospital or gynecologist. Your most important resource is information. Go to the experts on pregnancy (click here for a list of clinics). Abortion is expensive and you will need financial support. Abortion also carries the high possibility of emotional and physical stress on the body. It is an intrusive procedure that impacts your normal reproductive processes. It does have an impact and so you should be in constant contact with a medical professional before and after the procedure, whether medical or surgical. If adoption, learn about your options, whether you want an open adoption or a closed adoption. Learn about the families that are seeking to adopt and what it will mean for you to carry-to term. Many pregnancy clinics offer programs and referrals to organizations that can walk you through the process of adoption. And finally, if your decision is to parent, you will need material resources for your child and income as you approach your expected due date. Pregnancy clinics often offer parenting classes for free or offer “earn while you learn” programs, where material goods are provided in exchange for time in parenting class.
If you think you may be pregnant and want more information on your options, call (815)408-0793 to schedule your free and confidential appointment. Our staff is trained to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information that is relevant to you so that you can find out your options for your future.
- This information was excerpted from the booklet, “I’m Pregnant. Now What?” by Holly M. Duncan, M.Ed., LPC. ↩