When faced with an unplanned pregnancy, the whirlwind of emotions and worries about you and your baby’s future can feel overwhelming. The reality of your situation sinks in when you have to tell those closest to you that you’re pregnant. These conversations are critical–for you and for your loved ones–to help you go forward in the next steps of your pregnancy journey. We want to help you have the best conversations possible about your pregnancy, so here are some ways to start discussions with your loved ones.
Before talking about your pregnancy be sure to confirm it with a test as soon as possible. You can use a home pregnancy test from your local drug store, get a free test from a local pregnancy resource center, or take one from an OB/GYN or other doctor. Whom you bring with you to take this step is up to you. You may feel comfortable going with a parent, friend, the baby’s father, or alone. For further confirmation and an accurate gestational date (age of your baby) you can schedule an ultrasound at your OBGYN or a free one at a pregnancy help center. You can look for a center near you here.
For the people closest to you, we suggest having the conversation about your pregnancy in person. While texting and calling can feel like the least intimidating ways to talk, your life is changing in a major way and face-to-face conversations can be a better way to express your feelings. The first people in your life you might want to talk to are the father of the baby and your parents (depending on your age and relationship status).
Telling the Baby’s Father
I know what you’re thinking: it is so unfair you have to carry all of the consequences of this unplanned pregnancy and he does not. And it is true that unplanned pregnancy–and any pregnancy, for that matter–affects the woman on a more intimate scale than the man. But just consider this: if you were not expecting this pregnancy, chances are your guy was not, either. Just as this may have been a shock to you, it may be a shock to him, and his first reaction may be negative. He may be scared, upset, anxious–just like you might have felt. Or, he may have a positive reaction, and be supportive of you. He helped in creating the child growing inside of you and his feelings are important. The way you two proceed depends on a joint decision made by both of you for the sake of your child.
In some situations men can get scared at the prospect of having a child to support and nurture, and pressure the mother to abort. Abortion coercion, or forcing a woman by pressuring or other use of manipulation to terminate her pregnancy, is illegal. That’s right: if your boyfriend/partner tells you that he will leave you, kick you out of the house, or threatens you in any way if you do not get an abortion, that is a crime. The same applies to your parents. If you are experiencing coercion to have an abortion, please visit The Justice Foundation's Center Against Forced Abortions page for info, help, and resources.
Telling Your Parents
Your parents may be taken aback when you tell them you are pregnant. Depending on your circumstances, you may be totally dependent on or independent from your parents. Just keep in mind that no matter what, just like with the baby’s father, you have certain rights as a mother the moment you become pregnant, and no one can force you to make any decisions regarding your pregnancy–even if you live under your parents’ roof.
When you tell your parents–and any important people in your life–you are pregnant, make sure to give them space to react. They may express feelings of shock, fear, anger, disappointment, being overwhelmed–or they might not know how to react. No matter how they respond to the conversation, give them their space to do so, and try to stay calm while they do.
Your parents may ask you a lot of questions, and you may or may not have the answers they want: who is the father? How far along are you? How will you finish school? How will you support yourself? What were you thinking?! Instead of simply responding with an "I don’t know" when you truly do not know the answers to these questions, try to come up with solutions to answer them, together.
All of this advice applies to your friends as well: your friends may have a range of reactions to your pregnancy.
Telling Your Friends
Your friends may be shocked, happy, sad, confused, or a variety of other emotions when they learn that you are pregnant. One thing essential to remember is your friends–just like the baby's father and parents–cannot decide what is best for you and your baby. This can be difficult when you have the kind of relationships with your friends where you share much about yourself and your life with them. You may want their advice–or you may not want their advice. Remember you are going through this experience, and they are not. You may want to express to them that in this difficult time, you need their support more than you need their advice.
You will need support during and after your pregnancy journey–whatever you end up choosing. No woman should ever have to face a pregnancy decision alone. Reach out, and you may be surprised by how much people are ready and willing to help you.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Human Defense Initiative.
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