Unplanned Pregnancy: Calming the Shock & Finding Optimism
You pause your daily routine to take a trip to the drugstore to buy a pregnancy test. You’re probably not pregnant, you think; you just want to be sure. Later that day, you take the test, wait a few minutes, and to your surprise, your entire world seems turned upside down.
It must be wrong, you think. You and your partner aren’t ready. But surely, the test is right and you are a mother-to-be.
If you’ve made the decision to keep your baby, it can be difficult to be positive. You’re shocked and worried and your entire life is changing.
In this guide, we will give you some tips on how to deal with unplanned pregnancies and how to change your perspective and find optimism.
Calming the Shock of an Unplanned Pregnancy
If you’ve just found out you’re pregnant and weren’t trying to conceive, the first thing to know is that you’re not alone. Almost 50% of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned. That equals out to about 3 million women each year who are going through the same surprise.
Feeling confused is okay and normal. When most women discover they are pregnant, they have an array of emotions: From happiness to sadness. You may even cry, wondering how you will deal with this. You may flip back and forth between excitement for keeping your baby and dread, worrying that you’re not ready.
Be gentle with yourself. Every woman feels different during this time, and the emotions and anxieties you have are to be expected. Think about it: Without any warning, a big life decision has just dropped on your lap; one that could possibly require at least 18 years of commitment. Of course, you are going to feel emotional and overwhelmed!
Some women who have unplanned pregnancies may feel that they cannot connect or bond with their fetus right away. Just remember that it can take time to come to terms with this change. If a woman plans to become pregnant, she is likely already in that mindset for months prior to conception. You can’t expect yourself to switch to this mindset within a few days. Give yourself time to feel your feelings and think through your future.
Tips for Dealing with Unexpected Pregnancies
- Talk to Other Couples— It may help to talk with other couples who have experienced unplanned pregnancies. Not only will having someone to relate to be helpful, but you can also learn how others dealt with the surprise.
- Talk to Other Mothers— Whether it’s your own mother or a friend that has children, talking to them about their pregnancy experiences may help. Even if their pregnancies were planned, you will notice that every mother will say they had anxieties about becoming a parent. Seeing that your worries are normal can help you feel a little less alone.
- Make a Budget— One of the reasons you may be shocked is because you don’t know how you will be able to support a baby financially. If this is the case, develop a budget and decide where sacrifices can be made. Seek help from free financial planning services and research about how to save money during pregnancy.
- Read— Another reason you may be in shock is because you don’t feel prepared to have a baby or start a family. Reading pregnancy and parenting books and magazines will give you the knowledge you need to feel a bit readier. The more you know, the more confident you will feel entering this new phase of your life.
- What Can You Do Right Now?— Instead of focusing on the unknown, focus on what you can do right now. Cut out alcohol, cigarettes and check to see if any medication you’re on could harm your baby. Purchase prenatal vitamins and research pediatricians. Even small steps can go a long way in making you feel more prepared.
- Talk with Your Partner— Remember that both you and your partner are experiencing a lot of emotions right now. Talk openly and honestly about how you’re feeling and make it a point to support each other. After the initial shock subsides, talk with your partner about the options you have surrounding childbirth. Having everything in line may ease your anxieties.
How to Tell Your Partner about an Unplanned Pregnancy
After you’ve found out you’re pregnant, it’s time to tell your partner.
Sit your partner down and tell him straightforward that you took a pregnancy test and it was positive. Tell him that you understand it’s a shock to both of you and that you don’t need any answers right now. Tell him to take some time to process the information.
The way you react to an unplanned pregnancy likely correlates to how your partner reacts. If he is excited and thrilled, you’ll probably have more positive emotions. If he’s shocked and upset, you may feel more negatively.
It’s important to realize that your partner will probably be shocked by the news too. If he doesn’t initially act excited, it doesn’t mean he’s rejecting you or your pregnancy. It simply means that the news is very unexpected. Remember: Men have their own set of worries when it comes to pregnancy, too. He may be wondering if he can even financially support a family right now or what having a baby will mean for your relationship.
This is why it’s a good idea to give him some time to process the news. After, sit down and have a conversation about how you both feel and the decisions you must make.
Changing Your Perspective on Unplanned Pregnancies
If you and your partner have made the decision to keep the baby, it’s time to get excited! The best way to have a positive pregnancy is to change your attitude.
Put away the negative connotations associated with an unplanned pregnancy and instead aim to see it in a different light.
Stop seeing your pregnancy as a “shock” and start seeing it as a “surprise” instead. Surprises, while unexpected, are positive and can expose us to opportunities we wouldn’t otherwise venture into.
If you’ve decided to keep your baby, consider this: You are simply honoring your reproductive system telling you that the time is right. Some women try for months and even years to conceive with no luck. The fact that you got pregnant without even trying is a miracle.
You can think of it as your first parenting lesson: Expecting the unexpected. As your child grows up, there will be many surprises and events where you have to think on your feet. An accidental pregnancy is your first lesson of going with the flow and making the best out of any situation.
You should also stop asking yourself questions such as, “how did this happen?” or “am I or him to blame?” Instead, focus on what you can do right now to comfort yourselves and get excited about the pregnancy.
Although it’s normal to feel stressed about an unexpected pregnancy, remember that no one ever feels 100% prepared before they have a baby, even if they’re ready.
Try to put your anxieties into perspective. For example, finances are a legitimate worry to have. However, many parents don’t feel totally financially prepared before they have their first child. Many people adjust their lifestyles when they get the news. They don’t just wait for things to work out. They make things work out.
You may also question if you have the right skills to be a parent right now. However, you should again remember that even couples who have been trying for months may feel worried or scared once they finally see a positive pregnancy test. You can read books and babysit, but you’ll never truly be prepared to be a parent until you actually become one. The fact that you feel worried or nervous about being a mother simply means that you care — and that care is likely to make you a great mother!
Calm your worries by reminding yourself that if you ever need help during pregnancy or parenting, it’s available. Check out our list of completely free pregnancy help hotlines, chats, forums and more.
The fact is that even though a pregnancy is unplanned, it doesn’t mean you’ll be worse parents or that your baby will be loved less. But the quicker you change your perspective on the pregnancy, the more excited and happier you’ll become. If you’re looking for some inspiration to lift your mood, check out these 9 stories from women who had unexpected pregnancies that changed their life for the better.
Have you ever had an unexpected pregnancy? If you have, comment below your tips for calming the shock and having a positive attitude. If any of your friends or family members are dealing with a pregnancy surprise, be sure to share this post with them, too!
P.S. Another way to get excited about pregnancy is to try out one of our fetal dopplers. These amazing at-home devices allow you to listen to your baby’s heartbeat — just as you would during an ultrasound!