If you have or are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, you aren’t alone. Nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended (source: CDC). For parents who are actively trying to get pregnant, the news of pregnancy is exciting and joyful, but on the flip side of that coin, for those who aren’t expecting or not wishing to be pregnant, the news can be shocking, upsetting, and even devastating. Such wide ranging and strong emotions, combined with the physical effects of pregnancy, can cause an already anxious time to be even more so. Take heart in knowing that many women who have unplanned pregnancies go on to find peace and happiness with their new life. In the meantime, consider these few suggestions to work through your emotions.
Heed your physical needs, first and foremost. If you've just found out that you're pregnant, focus first on your health. From prenatal care to dietary and, ahem, extracurricular changes, it's important for you and your baby that you do what's necessary to ensure your health moving forward in the pregnancy. Turning your focus first to this more concrete task also provides a helpful distraction from your initial feelings of upset and shock about the pregnancy.
Confide in someone. Or more than one person. It can feel lonely and scary to deal with life-changing news all by yourself. Share with the people you feel most comfortable telling and, hopefully, someone who will bring you comfort and support throughout your pregnancy and beyond.
Allow yourself to feel everything. It's ok to feel sad, mad, angry, terrified, devastated, resentful. And it's important to allow yourself to feel everything that bubbles up -- feelings are just feelings, they are not actions. Conversely, it's ok to feel excited and happy, even if others do not express support and acceptance.
Find support. Talk to other mamas (in person and online) who have been in your shoes. Often, these women will be your biggest source of comfort, providing suggestions, advice, and a shoulder to cry on. If you find that your anxiety and distress is more than you can handle in a healthy way, seek professional support through your care provider, a therapist, counselor, or psychiatrist.
Was your pregnancy unplanned? Let other mamas know: how did you cope? Who was your go-to support person?