Let’s face it: Discovering an unplanned pregnancy can be an unwelcome surprise. This discovery can feel overwhelming, with some women reporting feelings of shock, fear, sadness and anxiety. Some women describe feeling as if their world has gone black, all they can see is a wall in front of them, unable to see through it or get around it. Thoughts can feel hazy, and decision-making skills are reduced, as the fight-flight-freeze response kicks in. It can seem like an impossible situation.
If you have experienced this, or are experiencing this, you are not alone. Being uncertain about your feelings and what to do is not uncommon, with research suggesting around 40% of pregnancies are unexpected. Initially, it is good to consider these three truths before you rush into the decision-making process; feel, take time and talk to someone you trust. The next step is to seek out a safe place to talk through your situation and to help you make an informed and considered decision. A place where you can carefully examine each brick in that wall, taking it down brick by brick until you can see a way forward.
Research shows that women who experience an unplanned pregnancy and take the time to make an informed choice, are less likely to feel regret about their decision. The following guide may assist you in beginning to unpack the decision-making process.
- Acknowledge the options
When in shock, it is common to seek a way out of the situation. Often in the shock of an unexpected pregnancy, abortion presents itself as a way out. However, it is important to recognise that abortion is not the only option. Recognising and exploring the option of continuing the pregnancy is a vital part of informed decision-making.
2. Seek out accurate information
Take some time to find out information about your options and what support is available. Speaking with a Pregnancy Consultant at Eva’s Place will provide you with a safe place to gather accurate information and ask questions. What happens in an abortion? What are the risks and side effects? What about the developing fetus? What does the pregnancy journey look like? What support is available to new parents? Exploring the answers to these questions is a good step toward becoming informed. This might sound scary, but you are courageous, and with the right support and in time, you will be able to make the best decision for you because you have taken the time to seek accurate information.
3. Exploring personal fears and values
Every woman’s situation and life experience are unique, and these lived experiences inform her values and beliefs, her needs and desires. Turning your attention to what is going on in your heart can help you identify more areas to explore, to help you find your way forward. Acknowledging fear can be the first step in finding a way to alleviate it. It is important to recognize your fears, as fear can cause us to make decisions we never thought we would make. It is also worth considering how you felt about parenting and abortion prior to becoming unexpectedly pregnant and comparing that to what you feel now. Sometimes experiences can alter what we believe, but sometimes we discover what we truly value.
4. Putting it all together
Now that you have explored the options, gathered accurate information, and tuned in to your heart, it can be helpful to picture what walking through each option could
look like. Stepping through each scenario and considering the practical and emotional aspects, the impact on your health, the impact on your relationships, the supports and structures you might need, and the way your heart responds, can be a good guide toward seeing past that black brick wall. Weigh up the highs and lows and work through what is important to you. Unfortunately, there won’t be an easy option, but there might be an option that seems more right… or less right. With good support, you can do hard things.
You may get to this stage and still feel the situation is impossible. That’s OK. Take some more time. Talk it through, again. Seek the support of people who love you. This unexpected pregnancy is meaningful and will have an impact on your heart, body and mind into the future one way or another. But time will move you forward, and you will come to know your own heart soon and have the courage to step into your future.