Unplanned pregnancies are common in Australia. About half of all pregnancies were not planned. Research shows that most women who have an unplanned pregnancy want the baby. But in at least 1 in 4 unplanned pregnancies, the baby is not wanted.
If you find out you have an unplanned pregnancy, it is normal to feel a range of emotions. You might be feeling shocked, delighted, anxious or sad — all are normal. This article will help you decide what to do next
How do I confirm I am 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
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.
You can find out more about the early signs of pregnancy, pregnancy tests and working out your due date at Pregnancy Birth and Baby.
What are my options when pregnant?
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 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: If you are not sure about adoption, but you are also not sure whether you can look after a baby, foster care could be a temporary solution. Foster parents can care for the baby while you work towards looking after them permanently. You can still see the baby while they are in foster care (sometimes called out-of-home care). Read more about foster 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 it is very unlikely to affect your ability to have children in future. The states and territories have different laws about abortion. The first step is to see your doctor or family planning clinic as soon as possible. Read more about abortion.
Your decision will depend on your feelings and your personal circumstances. If you are not sure, it is important to talk to someone you can trust. This could be someone in your family, a friend, a health professional like a doctor or nurse, or a pregnancy counsellor. Read more about making decisions about your pregnancy.
How do I make a decision?
When you are making a decision about what to do, look at all the options. Do not rush, and make sure you find as much information as you can to help you decide what to do. Think about how you feel and what your decision might mean for your life. Above all, look after yourself.
Some questions to think about are:
- How do you feel about being a parent and about children?
- How would having a baby affect your relationships?
- What are your goals, short-term and into the future? How would having a baby change things for you?
- What is your financial situation?
- Do your moral or religious beliefs affect your decision?
- How would having a baby affect your own health and wellbeing?
How can I look after myself when pregnant?
If you are pregnant, it is important to look after both your own health and that of your unborn baby.
You will need to eat a healthy diet and avoid things that can harm the baby. Read more about having a healthy pregnancy.
Drinking alcohol and smoking can harm your unborn baby. If you drank or smoked before you knew you were pregnant, it is not too late to stop. If you have smoked or drunk alcohol around the time of conception and then stopped, it is unlikely to have caused any harm to your baby. For advice on quitting, read more about alcohol and pregnancy and smoking and pregnancy.
Read more about your baby's development in the first trimester and how to look after yourself and the baby's wellbeing.
Where can I find help?
For support and advice on unplanned pregnancy, visit:
- Family Planning Alliance Australia
- Family Planning NSW – and their Working through your options booklet
- Children by Choice – and their making a decision online tool
- MSI Australia
- The Young, Pregnant and Parenting Network
- My Options (Victoria)
- Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436 to talk to a maternal child health nurse
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Last reviewed: May 2021