What to do if you have an unplanned pregnancy
Experiencing an unplanned pregnancy can be a confusing time. There are services available to support you.
An unplanned pregnancy can cause a range of feelings and emotions. Sometimes an unplanned pregnancy can also bring up other issues and concerns. Talking to someone you trust, like a family member or a friend, can help. Speaking to a professional pregnancy counsellor can also help you make sense of mixed or confused feelings and can help you to cope with an unplanned pregnancy.
Coming to terms with an unplanned pregnancy
If you are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, you may wish to speak to a pregnancy counsellor. The counsellor can help you come to terms with what is happening and give you the tools you need to cope. During a counselling session, counsellors will listen to you and help you explore and work through your feelings. They will also give you information about your pregnancy options – parenting, abortion, and adoption.
The pregnancy counsellor
The counsellor is there to provide information but mostly to give you a calm, non-judgemental space where they can help you make sense of your situation and figure out what you would like to do about it. You can bring your partner, your parents or even a friend along to counselling with you if you feel it would be helpful. You can also have as many counselling sessions as you feel you need to.
If you decide to have an abortion and would like to go for some post-abortion counselling, you can return to the same counsellor if that is what you would like to do.
Finding a pregnancy counsellor
To find a face-to-face pregnancy counselling service, visit this list of HSE funded agencies. These agencies provide free, non-judgmental unplanned pregnancy counselling to people who are pregnant, their partner, or a family member.
There are some rogue agencies that claim to offer crisis pregnancy support, but who will pressure you into making a decision about what to do about your pregnancy. This can be distressing and may lead you to make a decision that is not your own. The best way to avoid these agencies is to choose one of the HSE funded agencies offering non-directive counselling services.
My Options unplanned pregnancy helpline
You can also access unplanned pregnancy counseling through the HSE My Options helpline. The counsellor can offer information, advice and support. They can also help you find somewhere to go for face-to-face counselling. Freephone 1800 828 010 to call the My Options helpline.
Your options with an unplanned pregnancy
By speaking to a counsellor, you will be able to work through the different options available to you. A counsellor will usually go through three options: parenting, abortion, and adoption.
You can choose to continue with the pregnancy and become a parent. People choose to become parents whether they are part of a couple, or if they are on their own. There are a number of supports available to parents. Find articles on parenting here.
If you decide that it is not the right time for you to have a child, or if there is a medical reason that would mean pregnancy could put your health at risk, then you may choose to have an abortion.
Abortion is available free of charge to those who live in the Republic of Ireland if the pregnancy is no more than 12 weeks. Abortion is available in limited circumstances after 12 weeks.
Choosing adoption means that all legal parental rights will be transferred from you to adoptive parents. The child becomes a legal member of their adoptive family.
You might choose adoption if you decide you want to continue with the pregnancy, but you don’t feel that you are in a position to be a parent.
There are three types of adoption that can be arranged:
- Open adoption, where arrangements can be made for you to meet in person with your child and the adoptive family.
- Semi-open adoption, where letters and photos can be exchanged between you and the adoptive family. Both of these options are managed by the adoption agency.
- Closed adoption, where there is no contact between the birth parent(s) and the adoptive parents.
You or the adoptive family can decide at any time to stop having contact. Contact is not something that can be legally enforced. The adoption agency will work with both parties to try and find a suitable arrangement that is in the best interests of the child.
No matter what you decide to do, it is your decision to make. The pregnancy counsellor will guide you through all of your options and will help you to work with your feelings, but ultimately you get to decide what you want to do.
To speak to a pregnancy counsellor over the phone or to find out about face-to-face counselling, contact the My Options helpline at 1800 828 010 on Monday to Friday from 9am to 9pm or Saturday from 10am to 2pm. If you call out of hours, you can leave a message and one of their counsellors will call you back.