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Unplanned pregnancy is common. About 1 in 2 pregnancies in America are unplanned. Ideally, a woman who is surprised by an unplanned pregnancy is in good preconception health and is ready and able to care for a new child. But this sometimes isn't the case. If you have an unplanned pregnancy, you might not know what to do next. You might worry that the father won't welcome the news. You might not be sure you can afford to care for a baby. You might worry if past choices you have made, such as drinking or drug use, will affect your unborn baby's health. You might be concerned that having a baby will keep you from finishing school or pursuing a career. If you are pregnant after being raped, you might feel ashamed, numb, or afraid. You might wonder what options you have. Here are some next steps to help you move forward:
- Start taking care of yourself right away. Take 400 to 800 micrograms (400 to 800 mcg or 0.4 to 0.8 mg) folic acid every. Stop alcohol, tobacco, and drug use.
- Make a doctor's visit to confirm your pregnancy. Discuss your health and issues that could affect your pregnancy. Ask for help quitting smoking. Find out what you can do to take care of yourself and your unborn baby.
- Ask your doctor to recommend a counselor who you can talk to about your situation.
- Seek support in someone you trust and respect.
Unplanned pregnancy is common among abused women. Research has found that some abusers force their partners to have sex without birth control and/or sabotage the birth control their partners are using, leading to unplanned pregnancy. If you have an abusive partner, get help now. Violence can hurt you and your pregnancy and have long-lasting effects on your children. About 1 in 2 men who abuse their wives also abuse their children. And children who grow up with violence in the home are more likely to become abusers as adults and have physical and emotional problems. To get help right now, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233) and 800-787-3224 (TTY). Spanish speakers are available.
Read more from womenshealth.gov
Sexual Assault Fact Sheet — This fact sheet explains sexual assault and gives information on what to do if you've been sexually assaulted, where you can go for help, how you can protect yourself, and how you can help someone who has been sexually assaulted.
Explore other publications and websites
Are You Pregnant and Thinking About Adoption? — Written for pregnant women who are considering placing their child for adoption, this fact sheet provides practical information about adoption alternatives. It describes the benefits of counseling and reviews the different types of confidential and open adoption arrangements. Tips for working with adoption agencies, independent attorneys, and adoptive parents are included. Special considerations for babies of color also are discussed.
Pregnancy Options (Copyright © American Pregnancy Association) — This online resource provides links to more information on parenting, adoption, and abortion.
Pregnancy Options (Copyright © Planned Parenthood Federation of America) — This online resource discusses what options are available for women facing an unplanned pregnancy.
Unplanned Pregnancy: The Consequences (Copyright © The National Campaign) — This fact sheet gives facts and statistics about unplanned pregnancy, including possible consequences for the baby’s health, the parents’ relationship, and the family environment.
What to Do When Your Pregnancy Is Unexpected (Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians) — If your pregnancy is unplanned, you may be feeling scared or confused about what to do. This online resource discusses options for dealing with unplanned pregnancy.
Connect with other organizations
American College of Nurse-Midwives
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Office for Victims of Crime, U.S. Department of Justice
Office on Violence Against Women, DOJ
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network
Content last updated September 27, 2010.
Resources last updated September 27, 2010.
A federal government website managed by the Office on Women's Health in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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