An unplanned pregnancy can be an emotional ride, but with the proper support, you may be able to cope and make a decision that best supports what you desire.

The reality of an unplanned pregnancy is that you weren’t expecting it and now may be dealing with the anxiety and trepidation related to what having a baby could mean for you right now.

Maybe it’s bad timing. Or maybe you were done having kids or weren’t ready to consider becoming a parent.

Take a deep breath. Then consider trying to figure out how you’re going to move forward, be it choosing to continue the pregnancy or not. And consider navigating the changes to your relationships or emotional challenges.

When dealing with an unplanned pregnancy, it may help to know you aren’t alone.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in 2008 over 50% of folks reported having an unwanted pregnancy. By 2011, the overall percentage dropped to 45%, but unwanted teen pregnancy remained at about 75%.

Unplanned pregnancy is common in partnered women. A study from 2017 broke down pregnancy intention into “planned,” “unplanned/happy,” “unplanned/ambivalent,” and “unplanned/unhappy.

At 9 months postpartum, the study reports that people who had “unplanned/unhappy” pregnancy experienced psychological distress at nearly double the rate of those who had a “planned” pregnancy.

There are several strategies available that may help you feel calm in the face of uncertainty, stress, and anxiety.

1. Get confirmation

It may not hurt to confirm you’re pregnant with a doctor. While home pregnancy tests are generally very reliable, a doctor can confirm the pregnancy with a blood test and do an ultrasound to see how far along the pregnancy is.

Seeing a doctor may also help you figure out a plan for the pregnancy. This may help you in making decisions about what you are going to do and may help you feel a bit more at ease.

2. Acknowledge you are in shock

It’s OK to be in shock. Shock can happen with any sudden, traumatic changes that may affect your life, like an unplanned pregnancy. You can – and probably should – give yourself some time to process before figuring out how you want to respond.

3. Let your emotions flow

You may feel a range of emotions following a positive pregnancy test as you process what’s going on. They may include:

  • fear
  • excitement
  • anger
  • confusion

It may help you to write them down and then try to process them at a later point in time. Reviewing the emotions felt may help you determine what you are currently feeling about the pregnancy.

4. Allow your thoughts to flow too

Along with your emotions, try to let your thoughts flow without judgment, no matter what you may be thinking. Your thoughts – even dark ones – won’t affect the pregnancy, don’t reflect on you as a person, or in any way reflect how you may be as a parent.

You may want to hold off on action until you’ve had a chance to fully process what you’re thinking and feeling. And again, that’s OK.

5. Consider support options

Now may be a good time for you to figure out who you can lean on for support. Your partner? Close friends? Family members? Or maybe you feel better speaking to a counselor about what you’re thinking and feeling.

No matter who you lean on, support should be unbiased and non-judgmental. You deserve that. No one should judge you, your feelings, or whatever choices you make regarding the pregnancy going forward.

You may also consider seeking a doula or midwife near you that can help you during this time.

6. Visualize your options

As you process your emotions, you may find really considering your options beneficial. You can try to visualize the following:

  • what will life with a new baby at home be like, changes to routine, and so on, acknowledging both the good and the bad
  • what will the adoption process be like should you decide to go down that path, and how will you feel
  • how will ending the pregnancy affect how you feel following the procedure, both in the short and long term

Like with other processes, you should try to go easy on yourself. You’re just considering the options you have and trying to figure out how you will feel about each choice.

You may also want to consider how each decision will affect any underlying condition you may be living with, such as depression and anxiety.

7. Don’t be afraid to accept help

Friends, family, and even some community members may be willing to help during your initial shock through the pregnancy. Support doesn’t always look the same, but it could include the following:

  • offering a friendly shoulder to cry on
  • financial support
  • offerings of food
  • help around the house

You can accept their help and still keep your decisions your own. Providing help doesn’t give permission to another person to dictate how you feel or the decisions you make.

In many parts of the United States, you have three options following an unplanned pregnancy. They include:

Become a parent

Assuming the pregnancy is healthy, you can follow it through to the end and bring home a new baby at the end. You should consider working with a doctor or other medical professional throughout the pregnancy to help ensure the health of the baby.

If you are worried about how to pay for the pregnancy, you can contact the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services at 1-800-311-BABY (1-800-311-2229) for help with finding reduced cost or free medical care or visit their website for other options.

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Adoption allows you to connect your baby with a family that will provide care for your unborn child. The adoption process involves several legal processes, and working with a reputable agency can help guide you through it. You can start your search for agencies here.


Abortion is a complicated legal option depending on your location, but it’s still available in different areas of the country and may be the right answer for you.

If you’re considering abortion, you can use this finder to help you find abortion centers in your state or nearby states, as well as up-to-date information on the legality in each state.

Pregnancy is big news that can affect both you and your partner no matter where you are in your relationship. You can take steps to maintain a healthy relationship. Here are some tips:

  • Give them space: Give your partner space to process their emotions, too, so you can discuss them together at a later point.
  • Discuss the options: Take time to discuss your options with your partner, letting them know how you feel about each option and listening without judgment about what they are thinking about each option.
  • Develop a plan together: Once you’ve discussed your options, you can start to develop a plan to move ahead. If you do this together, it may help strengthen your bond and help each other cope.
  • Consider counseling: If you find you’re drifting apart or not seeing eye to eye, you may find that counseling may help. Counseling can help you and your partner communicate more effectively and possibly better understand where they are coming from.

When you get a positive home pregnancy test or find out at a routine medical appointment, try to take some time to process the news. Nothing is going to change immediately, so you do have some time to process what you’re thinking and feeling.

As you start to process the news, you can work with your partner or with friends and family if you’d like to determine what you’re going to do. No matter what you choose, you should feel confident in your decision.