It could be a chance encounter that results in an unplanned pregnancy or it could be a long term relationship where a pregnancy occurs in spite of a couple’s using birth control.
Or it could be a number of other scenarios that result in pregnancy – whatever the circumstances, the situation could be stressful in the extreme, leaving a woman confused and worried about her options and her future.
Possible consequences of an unplanned pregnancy
There is evidence to show that accidental pregnancies can negatively impact woman’s mental health.
A review of some 44 studies came to the conclusion that unplanned pregnancies could increase risk of mental health problems among women, regardless of whether a woman chose to carry her pregnancy to term or chose to undergo an abortion.
Other consequences of an unplanned pregnancy could include consequences to the future child. Cognitive test score of children born from unplanned pregnancies were seen to be lower.
Preconception and prenatal care is generally poorer among pregnancies that are not planned.
If a woman is planning to get pregnant she would be more likely to have seen a doctor, to have started nutritional supplements such as folic acid, and to have given up bad habits such as smoking and excessive drinking.
The chances of preterm delivery and low birth weight are consequently higher. Mother-child relationships resulting from accidental pregnancies were also seen to be less stable.
Your options in the event of an unplanned pregnancy
If you had not planned to be pregnant at this stage of your life, but find that you are, you are likely to feel extremely conflicted and stressed. At this stage it is important to think about your options in a calm, collected and non-emotional manner.
Consider each of the following options from your own personal point of view taking into account your special circumstances.
Abortion – Research shows that some women do experience guilt, sadness and a sense of loss due to an abortion but that abortion does not cause mental illness.
If there are consequences of abortion, then there are consequences of carrying a pregnancy to term as well; consider both.
Know about possible complications of abortion as well as childbirth, find out what the laws of the land state, and consider the surgical and non surgical options for terminating an unplanned pregnancy.
Being a single parent – It is though and the challenges are many, but many women do it; and do it really well. There are resources available that can help you make it work and you may find support in unexpected places.
Adoption – for many women, adoption is the best option for an unplanned pregnancy. If you are considering adoption then consider whether a closed adoption (where you don’t maintain any contact with your child) is a good option for you or whether an open or semi-open adoption option is better for you. Research has shown that the latter option is better for the child, since he or she doesn’t have to struggle with the frustration of the unknown.