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.


References:
  • Paternity and Partner Leave

    Since early 2011, Australia has had a Paid Parental Leave scheme. This allows eligible working parents to get paid for up to 18 weeks when they take time off work to care for a new baby or recently adopted child.

  • Driving and Seatbelt Safety During Pregnancy

    Driving during pregnancy can present a unique set of risks - it pays to be as informed as possible about the facts.

    Currently in Australia, there is no recommendation for pregnant women to stop driving. And it’s not illegal in any Australian State or Territory to drive during pregnancy.  The same road rules apply to all drivers, pregnant or otherwise. But pregnancy itself is not a reason to stop driving.

  • Is it Really Safe to Exercise in Pregnancy?

    Our understanding of exercise in pregnancy + postpartum has come a long way in the recent years, and we are much more likely to treat the “normal” pregnancy as a normal physiological process – not a disability.

  • Postpartum Exercise: How to Return Safely after Pregnancy and Childbirth

    Exercise in the postpartum period is helpful to regain your shape, increase your energy levels, lift your mood and give you the strength required for your new job of mothering. 

    Your new role will involve a lot of lifting, carrying, pushing, getting up from chairs and the floor, and holding for feeding. 

  • Recovering from Pregnancy and Birth

    After the birth of your baby there is a period of healing and physical adjustment from the effects of pregnancy as well as from your labour or delivery. 

    During pregnancy, there is increased pressure on the pelvic floor from your growing baby, placenta and extra fluid.

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