You’re pregnant! And while it may be exciting times, a surprise pregnancy can leave you freaking out just a bit…or maybe a whole lot. Here’s how to deal with it.
WORDS SUE-ANN BAUMGÄRTEL
Maybe you are an independent woman in your mid-thirties, educated and with an enviable lifestyle of work and leisure under your belt. Or you have the sound of wedding bells still ringing in your ears, as you embark on life as a married couple. Or maybe you are a young college student in your first serious relationship. Whoever you are, if you are having sex – with or without contraception – there will always be a chance of falling pregnant. Unlike choosing a college degree, working towards a promotion or saving up for a home, life can literally get in the way. Falling pregnant unexpectedly can cause some women, and couples, to feel that they have lost control of their life plans and sense of independence. Extreme life circumstances can adversely affect a pregnant woman’s outlook on life. Pregnancy is a game changer, and an unexpected pregnancy can feel like checkmate. Here are some ways to find perspective in this situation.
It’s Okay to Feel
Women are constantly conditioned on how they should be – the ideal body, the perfect mum, the loving wife, the modern woman. Just flipping through the pages of most women’s magazines, you will be inundated with tips on how to be a certain type of person. As women, aren’t we meant to feel the rush of happy hormones when those two blue lines show that we are pregnant? We are “supposed” to feel elated and overjoyed. We should be blooming and blossoming. Anger, disbelief, fear, resentment, guilt, shock, denial, frustration and a loss of control are natural reactions to any unexpected life event, so why should they not apply to an unexpected pregnancy? After all, we are the ones who have “fallen” pregnant.
Know and accept that it is okay to feel these emotions.
Feeling such conflicting emotions will not make you a
bad mother, or indeed a bad person.
Share Your Feelings
Honesty and openness between you and your partner will help. Just as an expectant mum is supposed to feel a certain way, dads-to-be are also under pressure in this situation. To support and provide for another human being is no light undertaking, and many men can feel trapped. Talking about your feelings, listening to your partner’s point of view and finding a shared path for the future will help you come to terms with your joint situation. An unwanted pregnancy might highlight the cracks in a flawed relationship or it can strengthen an honest and loving relationship.
Know You’re Not Alone
Talking to others who have experienced a similar situation will also give you a perspective and show that you are not alone in this. You are not the first person, and certainly not the last, to experience this age-old situation. However, this is your life and only you can find a way through it for yourself. Build up your support and resources to give yourself time to think and reflect. You will be faced with judgement and perhaps criticism from many – not least of all from yourself – so surround yourself with friends and family who are positive for you.
Stop, Breathe and Think
Life changing events happen unexpectedly. Giving yourself enough time and space to reflect on this junction in your life is vital. Decisions made in turbulent and difficult moments tend not to be the most fruitful of decisions. There will be many aspects of your situation that will cause worry and fear. Perhaps you are in a troubled relationship, or you feel unable to cope with the pressure and prospect of motherhood.
Now is the time to reassess your life, your priorities and values, and your purpose.
You will have to ask yourself many questions, and hopefully, you will be able to see the positives
in this situation. Don’t give up on your dreams. Everything and anything is possible.
What if this pregnancy is not just a surprise, but an unwanted pregnancy? The misconceptions and stigma attached to sex and sexual education are still prevalent. Terrible events such as abuse and rape can sadly result in an unwanted pregnancy. Irrational fear and guilt, and feelings of being trapped are all too common when faced with an unwanted pregnancy. Remember that you are not alone in this situation. Talking to a trusted person with life experience – whether it is a family member or friend – is crucial to giving you support and perspective. Neutral and professional support can be found in clinics, certain organisations, and even the church. Abortion polarizes. However, women should be offered the choice to decide what suits them best. Whatever decision you undertake with an unwanted pregnancy will have consequences for the rest of your life, so it is crucial you receive the right support, advice and information in order to make the best decision for you, your child and your future.
For further information, contact:
Association of Women for Action and Research
Pregnancy Crisis Service