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Unplanned pregnancy

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 day. 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.
Partner abuse and unplanned pregnancy

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.

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Content last updated: September 27, 2010.

Resources last updated: September 27, 2010.

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