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Unplanned pregnancy

5-minute read

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. You have options, however, and this article will help you decide what to do next.

How to confirm you are 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’s 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.

Deciding about your pregnancy

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're not sure about adoption, but you're also not sure whether you can look after a baby, foster care could be a temporary solution. Foster parents can look after 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're not sure, it's 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 you might feel if your pregnancy is unplanned

Unplanned pregnancies are common in Australia. About half of all pregnancies weren't 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 isn't wanted.

When you're making a decision about what to do, look at all the options. Think about how you feel and what your decision might mean for your life.

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?

Looking after yourself

If you are pregnant, it's 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's 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 yours and the baby's wellbeing.

Where to seek help

For support and advice on unplanned pregnancy, visit:

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

Last reviewed: June 2019


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Need more information?

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Top results

Unplanned Pregnancy: Abortion | Family Planning NSW

This fact sheet is for women who are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and want information about abortion. Abortion is when a pregnancy is terminated (ended).

Read more on Family Planning NSW website

Unplanned pregnancy | Marie Stopes Australia

What are your options?

Read more on Marie Stopes Australia website

Pregnancy - Pregnancy Topics - Termination of pregnancy (abortion)

Among women of reproductive age, recent Australian research shows that approximately half will have experienced an unplanned pregnancy making it a normal part of women's reproductive experience

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Making decisions about pregnancy

Having an unplanned pregnancy can be an overwhelming experience. There will be decisions you will need to make, but there are services available to help you through this time.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

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

I think I might be pregnant | Sex | ReachOut Australia

There are a few signs that may indicate pregnancy, but the only sure-fire way to know is to visit a doctor and have a pregnancy test. Check out ReachOut.com for more information.

Read more on ReachOut.com website

Pregnancy - Pregnancy Topics - Confirming your pregnancy

There are several ways to find out if you are in fact pregnant: a blood test; a home pregnancy urinetest; a urine test or internal examination by your doctor

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Folate for pregnant women - Better Health Channel

Even women who aren't planning to have a baby should increase their folate intake in case of unplanned pregnancy.

Read more on Better Health Channel 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

Contraception choices | Family Planning NSW

Contraception is necessary if you wish to avoid an unintended pregnancy. Several methods of contraception are available - check out this factsheet to find out more information.

Read more on Family Planning NSW website

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