Options for Unwanted Pregnancy

Young woman speaking with a doctor

Figuring out your options for an unwanted pregnancy while considering your well-being can be an intimidating and emotionally overwhelming endeavor. You may want to keep your pregnancy private, or feel like you aren't sure which option is the best fit for you. Keep in mind that many people experience unwanted pregnancies and there are several options available.

Exploring Your Options for Unwanted Pregnancy

Adoption, abortion, and keeping the baby are all choices to consider. Getting the plenty of information and helpful resources can assist you in making the right choice for you and your family. It may also help to talk about your options with a family member, friend, therapist, doctor, or your partner. However, the decision needs to be one that you are comfortable with.


For some women, abortion may be the best option for an unwanted pregnancy. The National Abortion Federation and Planned Parenthood are both good resources that provide information regarding pregnancy and abortion, as well as a list of providers in your state.

Since the laws vary by state, you will need to find out what your abortion options are. In some places, you will need to wait 24 to 48 hours after consulting with a counselor at an abortion clinic. You may need a parent's involvement if you are under 18.

Medical Abortion

A medical abortion can be performed during the first nine weeks of a pregnancy. Oral medication is taken to induce an abortion. Side effects and symptoms you may experience include fever, diarrhea, nausea, and heavy bleeding. Your doctor may give you pain relievers to take as well. If you are feeling very physically uncomfortable be sure to let your doctor know in case you are having a bad reaction to the medication.

A few days after the medical abortion, you will need to return to the clinic for a medical examination. The doctor will make sure no tissue remains in your uterus, since this could lead to infection.

Surgical Abortion

A surgical abortion may be performed later during a pregnancy than a medical abortion, usually up to about 20 weeks. In this procedure, the patient is usually given local anesthesia and a small suction tool or curette is used to remove the pregnancy tissue. The entire procedure is handled in a medical facility and you will need to remain at the clinic for a short time after to make sure you do not have any adverse reactions or heavy bleeding.

Young patient looking at doctor in hospital ward

Other Options Besides Abortion

If getting an abortion is not the right choice for you, there are plenty of alternative options. Depending on your needs and support system, think about what would work best for you and reach out to a therapist, psychologist, or doctor if you need further counsel.


Many women who find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy choose to carry the baby to term and give it up for adoption so another family may raise the child. There are millions of good parents who are unable to have biological children and would love to welcome a new child into their home. The Child Welfare Information Gateway is a good resource for more information about adoption options.

Open Adoption

After the child's birth, there are several ways to have an open adoption, ranging from occasional contact and communication to being an active part of the adoptive family's life. These relationships can be very rewarding, but they may also be difficult to maintain. It's important that you speak with an adoption counselor or lawyer about your options and that you and the adoptive family agree about the nature of the relationship you'd like to have.

Depending on the adoption agency and the level of openness you choose, you may be able to meet with the adoptive family before you give birth. This can help you get to know the environment your child will grow up in and can make you feel more comfortable with your choice.

Closed Adoption

A closed, or confidential, adoption means that after you give birth, you will have no contact with the child or adoptive family. Sometimes, you can make provisions that will allow the child to contact you when they reach adulthood.

holding baby hand

Co-parent With the Father

Regardless of whether you are in a romantic relationship with the father of your child, you can discuss co-parenting together. It can be incredibly helpful to have the support of another person during this process. Healthy co-parenting is possible if you are able to cultivate trust, honesty, and open communication. If you do decide to co-parent, it's important to discuss your parenting styles, expectations, and what the level of involvement will look like.

Have a Supportive Friend or Relative Step In

If you don't feel comfortable or well equipped to care for the child, you can see if a friend or relative can help out temporarily or permanently. If you do decide to go this route, it's important to discuss who will hold the legal rights for the child, how involved you'd each like to be in the child's life, and how long the friend or family member will be caring for the child. If it's a permanent transition, legal adoption should be considered so the friend or relative will be able to be the child's legal guardian.

Join Support Groups

Some religious organizations provide emergency assistance to a parent or parents experiencing a crisis and who need immediate help taking care of a child. In these circumstances a host family volunteers to temporarily care for the child without compensation.

Consider Temporary Foster Care

Foster care is organized through the courts or a social worker and occurs if the child is in need of an immediate placement due to child abuse or neglect. In foster care, the goal is typically to reunite the child with their family of origin, unless doing so would place them in danger. This can lead to the decision to allow the child to be adopted to another family.

Move in With a Relative or Friend

If you feel overwhelmed, but plan on being the primary caregiver, you can see if you would be able to move in with a helpful friend or relative on a temporary basis. They can help you parent, care for the child, and provide some relief when you're feeling exhausted.

Make the Healthiest Decision for You

With an unwanted pregnancy, it's important to consider all of your options and to decide what the healthiest choice for you is. This can be a deeply emotional decision so be sure to seek help if you are feeling overwhelmed.

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