What to Do When Your Pregnancy Is Unexpected

Last Updated August 2021 | This article was created by familydoctor.org editorial staff and reviewed by Peter Rippey, MD, CAQSM

Pregnancy can be a very emotional time in your life. If your pregnancy is unexpected, you may be feeling scared or confused about what to do. Know that many pregnancies are not planned. Nearly half of all pregnancies in the U.S. and worldwide are not planned. It is important to remember that you have options. But first, you need to make sure that you’re pregnant.

Path to Improved Health

How do I find out if I am pregnant?

Take a pregnancy test to find out if you’re pregnant. There are two kinds:

  • Urine test: This type of test is also called a home pregnancy test. You can buy them at most drug stores, grocery stores, and discount stores. You also can have this test done at your doctor’s office. Most home pregnancy tests can tell if you are pregnant about the time you would expect to get your period. The test is typically very accurate if done correctly.
  • Blood test: This test is done at your doctor’s office or at a health clinic. It can tell if you are pregnant about a week before you would expect to get your period. This test is very accurate.

If you take a home pregnancy test and the result is positive, you should see your doctor to confirm the results. Your doctor will likely do a blood test or urine pregnancy test to confirm.

If you are pregnant, deciding what to do about an unexpected pregnancy can be very difficult. There is a lot to think about. You have to make the decision that is right for you. Consider your personal situation and your beliefs. Every pregnant woman has three options:

  • If you wish to parent your child—even if you will be a single parent—there are many resources designed to help you raise your baby.
  • If you don’t wish to have an abortion or parent your child, you can choose an adoption plan for your baby. You can even choose who becomes your child’s family.
  • If you wish to end your pregnancy, you can choose to have an abortion. Abortion laws vary by state, so you will need to research the specific laws where you live.

Things to Consider

Deciding what to do when you’re pregnant can be a very difficult choice to make. It will help to talk to someone you trust. This can be your baby’s father, a family member, or a friend. Your doctor, minister, or rabbi also may be helpful. Try to find someone who won’t pressure you into making a decision you are not comfortable with. If you don’t feel like you have anyone you can talk to, your doctor may be able to help you find a specially trained counselor. Always remember that, while others may give their opinions, you are the only one who knows what’s best for you.

Before you make any decision, you should learn about each of your options. Getting more information can help you make your decision. It can also help you feel more confident about your decision.

How soon do I need to make a decision?

If you are thinking about continuing the pregnancy, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. Seeing your doctor regularly while you are pregnant will help make sure that you and your baby will be as healthy as possible.

If you are thinking about ending the pregnancy, it’s best to try to decide as soon as possible. There are fewer risks associated with early abortions. There are also different state laws that may restrict when you can have an abortion.

While you are making your decision, be sure to take good care of yourself.

  • Don’t drink alcohol
  • Don’t smoke
  • Don’t do drugs
  • Eat healthy
  • Don’t take any medicines without first talking to your doctor
  • Get plenty of rest

Questions to ask your doctor

  • How far along am I in my pregnancy?
  • Am I taking any medications that might harm my baby?
  • Can you connect me with any pregnancy counselors to help with my decision?
  • Do you recommend any books or websites to help me learn about my pregnancy?
  • Can you refer me to parenting resources if I decide to keep my baby?
  • What steps do I need to take if I want to put my baby up for adoption?
  • What are the abortion laws in my state?