The thought that you may be pregnant can be overwhelming for any woman, whether the pregnancy is planned or not. It is only you who will know whether you are ready to have a child.
This information is designed to assist in the process of making a decision regarding an unplanned pregnancy. It is not meant to encourage you to make any particular decision, but may be used as a guide to look at your options.
Unplanned pregnancies do happen and every woman has the right to make her own decision.
How to tell if you are pregnant
The first step is to find out whether you are pregnant for sure. Some of the first signs of pregnancy are:
- a missed period, or your period may be shorter or lighter than usual
- tiredness and loss of energy
- tenderness or swelling in your breasts
- urinating more than usual
- food cravings
Having one or more of these signs does not necessarily mean that you are pregnant. It is also possible to be pregnant yet not experience any of the above.
To confirm you are pregnant you will need to have a pregnancy test. There are two types of tests – urine and blood. You can do the urine test yourself by buying one from a pharmacy or supermarket, or see your doctor, SHINE SA or the Pregnancy Advisory Centre.
Testing your urine first thing in the morning gives most accurate results, and it is important to follow instructions carefully. If either a blood or urine test is done before you have missed a period, it may not be accurate.
You may feel that talking about the pregnancy is not going to help, but women often find it does help them to consider their choices and decide what to do.
You don’t have to make the decision alone. It is important to get support as early as possible.
Think about who you will tell. It might be helpful to talk it over with someone you trust, who won’t tell you what to do. Think about who might be there for you, to listen to you and provide support so you can make the right decision for you. This may be a friend, partner or family member, or it may be useful to speak to someone from a health service.
Be aware that some organisations which advertise help for pregnant women can be biased, either by not providing you with all your options or actively discouraging consideration of abortion. If you’re not getting the advice and support you want, you can go elsewhere for help.
To find out about an organisation before you approach them you can call:
If you have confirmed you are pregnant, you have three choices:
- continue the pregnancy and become a parent
- continue the pregnancy and consider adoption or alternative care
- have an abortion to end the pregnancy
Whatever you decide, the choice is yours.
Some of the things you may want to consider in making the decision are:
- Firstly, would you ‘rule out’ any of the choices above?
- How do you feel about being pregnant? It may help to write things down, such as feelings, fears, hopes and worries. Include how you feel about each of the options you are considering.
- What may be the effects for you, both positive and negative, of taking up each option? Listing these can be useful to look over and compare.
- How would other people who are important to you react? Can you discuss this with them? Would it affect your decision?
- What do you think needs to be in place before you become a parent? For example, some women say it is very important to have a secure place to call home, to finish school, to have a supportive partner or pay off some debt before having a child. Everyone is different. What steps could you take to put any of these into place? How do you feel about taking these steps?
It is normal to feel confused or even unsure about one particular choice you may be ‘leaning towards’.
Even if you are feeling certain about your decision, do consider making an appointment with a women’s or sexual health service to find out:
- how many weeks pregnant you are
- timeframes for decision making
The right decision for you may not, in the end, feel 100% ‘right’, but the bottom line is: your emotional and mental health and wellbeing is most important.
Continuing with a pregnancy
Contact your GP, local SHINE SA office or major hospital to discuss your options regarding antenatal care.
To book into a public hospital for antenatal care call the Pregnancy SA Infoline on 1300 368 820. You can also call the Women’s Information Service or Women’s Healthline regarding support services (e.g. emotional, housing, financial, legal and other support).
The Women’s and Children’s Health Network is an important resource for you in pregnancy and parenting. Call their Parent Helpline on 1300 364 100. If you are aged 12-25 ask about The Second Story, which is a youth health service they provide. Their website has valuable advice in the Parenting section and young parents can go to the Teen health section.
The Pregnancy Advisory Centre has useful information on continuing with a pregnancy available on their website.
The decision to place a child for adoption is an extremely difficult one and might be made for many reasons.
The Adoption & Family Information Service can provide counselling as you work through future options for yourself and your child if this is something you are considering. Other options for your child’s care, such as fostering, may also be possible and these can be discussed with the Adoption & Family Information Service.
Parents whose children are adopted permanently give up all their parental rights to and responsibilities for their child. The child is permanently placed with an adoptive family and the child’s birth family has no claim on the child.
You can contact the Pregnancy Advisory Centre for information and self-referral (see below).
A range of useful information on abortion is available on their website.
SHINE SA also has a Fact Sheet, Information on abortion in South Australia.
If you need help in making a decision, urgent counselling is available at SHINE SA or the Pregnancy Advisory Centre.
Women who feel they are making their own decision about their pregnancy are more likely to feel positive about the outcome.