Unplanned Pregnancy: What Are My Options?

If you think you may be pregnant and you didn’t plan to be, try not to feel alone.  Unplanned pregnancy accounts for around half of all pregnancies in Australia. Since the human race began, babies have been conceived even though they may not have meant to be.  There are all sorts of reasons why an unplanned pregnancy may occur.

No contraception method is 100% effective – the only absolute protection against pregnancy is to abstain from sex and for most young, fertile couples this is simply not an option. Apart from contraception failure, conception can happen even when individuals or couples may have thought they were infertile.

Quick!

If you think you are at risk of conceiving and don’t want to, you could consider using the emergency contraceptive pill otherwise known as “the morning after pill”. This needs to be taken within 4-5 days after having unprotected sex, but ideally within the first 24 hours. This is the window of time when the emergency contraceptive pill works most effectively.

In Australia, the morning after pill is only available from a pharmacy but does not need a prescription.

If You Think You May Be Pregnant

First things first

  • Do a home pregnancy test. Supermarkets and pharmacies sell urine testing kits for around $10.00 - $20.00.
  • Go to your GP and ask for a urine pregnancy test or a blood test.
  • Go to a women’s health centre, Family Planning Centre or community health centre. Arrange an appointment with a nurse or a doctor who can organize a pregnancy test.
  • Speak with your partner, family member or a trusted friend. It’s important you have support and don’t feel alone.

Remember

It is important to follow the recommendations on a home pregnancy test to get the most accurate results. It is possible to have a false negative test very early on when the levels of pregnancy hormone are too low to detect. But it is virtually impossible to have a false positive pregnancy test.

A false negative result can happen when

  • A woman has been drinking a lot of water and her urine is too dilute (weak).
  • The testing kit is out of its expiry date.
  • The recommendations of the manufacturer are not followed.
  • Before a period is missed and there’s not enough pregnancy hormone present in the urine.
  • The recommended time isn’t followed to get an accurate result.

But I Don’t Know What to Do!

Only you, and perhaps your partner as well, can make the decision about what is right for you. This could be a time of infinite uncertainty for you and it may seem almost impossible to feel 100% confident about what to do. Speak with a healthcare professional who will give you impartial support. They may also refer you to a counsellor who has expertise and training in early pregnancy options.

Pregnancy Options

If you have confirmed that you are pregnant and haven’t planned to be, allow yourself some time to become used to the idea. You do have choices but, ideally, they are best considered with a clear head.

You may choose to:

  • Continue with the pregnancy and have the baby. Depending on your circumstances this may or may not be with a partner.
  • Choose to terminate the pregnancy and have an abortion. Ideally this is done in the first trimester, but in specific circumstances can be done up until 22 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Continuing with the pregnancy and adopting out the baby when it is born. Alternatively, you may choose to make a private arrangement for the child to be raised with a family member or relative.

You may not feel you need to think about all the options very much at all and from the moment your pregnancy is confirmed you have made a decision about what to do. If this is the case, it will still be useful to think about all of your alternatives. Even if the benefits of taking some time are not immediately clear, in the long term you may be glad that you did.

About the Author:

Jane Barry has qualifications in general, paediatric, immunisation, midwifery and child health nursing. She holds a Bachelor Degree in Applied Science (Nursing) and has almost 30 years specialist experience in child health nursing. She is a member of a number of professionally affiliated organisations including AHPRA, The Australasian Medical Writer’s Association, Health Writer Hub and Australian College of Children and Young People’s Nurses.


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