When Your World Has Been Upended: Unplanned Pregnancy — Now What?

Unplanned Pregnancy — Now What?

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Your Options and Five Practical Steps to Take

  • Surprise pregnancy: When a woman finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, it can feel as if her world has been turned upside down. Her mind starts racing, and everything revolves around this question: "Now what?
  • The hormonal changes in early pregnancy often add to the emotional upheaval and amplify any fears and concerns. This often clouds one’s view from seeing possible steps and solutions.
  • Some women feel conflicted about their pregnancy because it was unintended and wonder whether to have an abortion. Most voice their desire to discern a path in which keeping the baby becomes feasible.

Tip for you:

Surprise Pregnancy — Emotional Turmoil!

Maybe the pregnancy was a total surprise to you and was completely unexpected. Or perhaps you have unknowingly been pregnant for a while and have just found out.

An unintended pregnancy can make you feel as if your whole world is falling apart. This probably put you on an emotional roller-coaster.

This unexpected news often leads to a gamut of thoughts and emotions. Some may even be contradictory: anxiety, concern, self-doubt, or perhaps even a quiet sense of joy... Thoughts range from, ”I don't want to be pregnant" to “Actually, it might be nice…" Conflicting thoughts and feelings may alternate by the hour — or even by the minute!

Hormones are sometimes the sole culprit of this emotional chaos. Of course, it can also be triggered by the confusion of the new situation: This is not what I had planned — where do I go from here?

Pregnant: A Natural and Yet Exceptional State

Even when a pregnancy is planned, many women have emotional ups and downs.

If this is how you feel right now, to the point that you don’t even recognize yourself, here is a small consolation: You are not alone. Many women feel the same way at the beginning of a pregnancy. And that is entirely acceptable, because, physically speaking, this situation creates a major change for your body — a state of transition.

The reason is quite simple: Your entire system adjusts to this new task at the onset of a pregnancy. Undergoing the necessary hormonal changes (physical adjustments) often affects one’s emotions (emotional turmoil).

It may be unsettling, especially when experiencing it for the first time, but this emotional upheaval is natural and normal. This inner struggle can last for hours, days — or even throughout the first trimester (until the 12th week of pregnancy), while the most significant hormonal shifts occur. After that, the hormonal balance usually stabilizes — your body has adjusted to being pregnant — and the emotional confusion subsides.

ℹ️ Even if you have been pregnant before, you may still be unfamiliar with this sensation. Every pregnancy is unique. Your hormonal changes may be more tangible this time around.

Unintended Pregnancy: Not According to Plan...

Some women describe this inner turmoil as a battle between heart and mind. All of a sudden, the life you had envisioned is gone, leaving you to wonder whether an alternate plan could be just as good. Perhaps you are grappling with the sense that the timing is off. Maybe you are trying to navigate a complicated relationship or don't have a partner right now. Perhaps you feel overwhelmed or too young to be pregnant. Or maybe you feel like you are done having children.

There are many reasons why the new situation may take you off guard and make you feel torn. This news may take a while to sink in. Perhaps you are thinking about abortion, which would be one of the most challenging decisions of your life. In the back of your mind, you are probably dealing with concerns that reveal your strong sense of responsibility: Would I be able to meet my baby’s needs? What about all the other things that are vying for my attention? What kind of support would I need so that the baby and I could thrive?...

In addition to your questions and concerns, please also consider your deepest desires! Even if many things are still unclear at the moment, perhaps solutions can be found step by step. Your longings matter because you matter. It is vital for you to discover a path you feel good about long term!

I Don't Want the Baby… I Want to Get Rid of the Pregnancy

During this exceptional time, thoughts come up, that you may have never imagined possible. When anxiety and despair dominate, sometimes the thought emerges, "I want to get rid of the baby..." or “I wish nature would take care of this for me." Many women are ashamed of these thoughts and hardly dare to express them, but they are an honest reflection of what they are feeling at this point!

Usually, this thought is driven by the desire to avoid making that decision for oneself, thereby escaping a potentially complicated situation. The freedom to have things my way can also be a source of pressure to choose well. At some point, many women begin to wonder, "What is the right choice?" or "Isn't this decision far too big for me?”

Finding out about the pregnancy was big news in and of itself! It is expected to need time to digest everything and put it into perspective. This is not a time to judge yourself but rather to cut yourself some slack.

None of us have control over our spontaneous thoughts and feelings; they simply show up. But how we deal with them is in our power. We get to choose which thought or emotion we will allow to dominate and ultimately act upon.

Unintended Pregnancy — Your Options:

This brings us back to the original question: How should I decide? Which path do I follow?

Thoughts and solutions may quickly come to mind. Perhaps other people have already given you well-meaning advice on what they think "is in the best interest of all parties.”

Of course, you may spontaneously lean more toward one option than another, but it may be helpful to give attention to each option...

Pregnant -Now What? Five Practical Steps

Since we don’t want you to be left without solid ground on which to stand, we put together a plan on how to move forward one step at a time. This is like a "first-aid pack," by which you can take the necessary steps toward making a carefully considered decision.

1. 🕰 Give yourself time!

It is prudent not to rush anything right now — decisions as significant and far-reaching as this should not be made hastily. You are worth more than a quick fix! Your choice does not need to be made overnight — instead, take one small step at a time, setting your own pace! Most regions have generous abortion limits, allowing much time to think things through. For cut-off dates in your area, go to “Until When Can I Get an Abortion?

Take the time you are given,, and don't allow anyone or anything to put you under pressure! — You are worth it!


2. 🛋 Take care of yourself!

This is a stressful time! So feel free to pamper yourself a little! Many concerns tend to shrink significantly when you give yourself time to rest: sufficient sleep, fresh air, conversations with loved ones, etc. Caring for your physical and emotional well-being helps you stay healthy, so that your decision is not made while overwhelmed and exhausted, but rather while calm and rejuvenated. What are things that make you feel rested? What do you enjoy doing? What kind of activity would rekindle hope and renew your confidence in your abilities?


3. ❤️ Let your heart speak!

If you have just discovered that you are pregnant, conflicting thoughts and emotions will probably pipe up very quickly and take hold of your mind.

The heart, however, usually needs a little more time. Then, when you calm down and are completely in tune with yourself, you might get a first glimpse of what you truly want. And your heart, combined with your inner convictions and values, is an excellent compass; it always leads us in the direction that is true to our nature.


4. 💪🏻 Remember your own strengths...

Especially during challenging times, it’s easy to forget your accomplishments. This current situation may be one of the most challenging events of your life — and yet each of us has unique strengths within ourselves that help us turn a crisis into an opportunity. What are your particular strengths? How have you mastered problematic situations in the past?

Wondering how to identify your strengths? 💪 Strengths Finder Test


5. 👥 Seek support!

Many women with unintended pregnancies yearn to talk about their concerns and worries. Perhaps your thoughts feel like a broken record, repeating the same lines over and over making you feel no closer to a solution. In this situation, sharing your concerns with someone can be helpful.

Maybe you know someone who would be there for you, whom you trust, and who wants what is best for you. Go for it! That conversation can broaden your perspective and give you new ideas.

Have you experienced a reaction from someone that wasn’t helpful and has left you feeling confused? Are you still hesitant about confiding in someone? Perhaps a neutral sounding board would be helpful.


Digital Counseling Options:

You are not alone! Our judgment-free resources were tailor-made for your situation, helping you discover the path that is right for you. So why not give them a try?

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Authors & Sources

Author

Maria Nagele,
Social Worker

Translation:
Kerstin Dörbecker

Reviewed by:

Team of Psychologists & Social Pedagogical Team

Sources

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