The main points

  • Pregnancy options include parenting, abortion and adoption.
  • A doctor can provide more information about pregnancy options and referral to support services that can help.
  • It is important that the woman makes her own decision about which pregnancy option is best for her.

Unplanned pregnancy is very common, with an estimated 200,000 pregnancies occurring in Australia every year. Not all, however, are unwanted. In some cases, the woman, though surprised, looks forward to raising the child. In other cases, the news presents a crisis. When a woman does not want to become a parent, her pregnancy options may include abortion or adoption.

A number of government and community counselling services offer information on pregnancy options, which can help a woman make this often difficult decision.

Pregnancy issues to think about

An unplanned pregnancy can make a woman think about a number of complex issues such as:

  • her feelings about parenthood, abortion and adoption
  • her health and age
  • the needs of her existing children (if she has any)
  • her relationship with her partner
  • her career options
  • her financial situation
  • her life goals
  • her religious beliefs
  • her moral values.

Professional counselling for pregnancy

When faced with an unplanned or unintended pregnancy, deciding what to do is not always easy. Talking with family members and friends can help. It is important that the woman makes her own decision and does not let pressure from other people affect her own judgement.

It can help to talk with an independent, trained counsellor who can provide up-to-date information on each pregnancy option to support a woman in making a free and fully informed decision. However, most women are able to make a decision about an unplanned pregnancy without professional help.

Pregnancy options

Pregnancy options include:

  • parenting
  • abortion
  • adoption.

Option of parenting

When faced with an unplanned pregnancy, some women choose to continue with the pregnancy and then raise the child.

Prenatal (pregnancy) care is extremely important for the health of the woman and the unborn child. The woman also needs to decide quite early in her pregnancy where and how she wants to have the baby. There are a number of childbirth options to choose from. A doctor can provide more information and referral to support services that can help.

Factors that may influence a woman’s decision on whether or not to become a parent include:

  • her health and life circumstances
  • any previous experiences of pregnancy or childbirth
  • her feelings about certain types of care
  • where she lives (not all options are available in all regions).

Depending on the woman’s relationship with her partner, her parenting options may include:

  • shared parenting as a married, separated or de facto couple
  • single parenting while living with family or independently.

For those who are having difficulty deciding, talking with an independent, trained counsellor can help in understanding each option.

Parenting is a skill that has to be learned and relearned as a child grows through different life stages. A number of government and community support services are available to help parents through each stage. A doctor can provide more information and referral to support services that can help.

Option of abortion

Some women decide to terminate (end) their pregnancy by having an abortion. Estimates suggest that almost one third of all unplanned pregnancies in Australia are terminated. Abortion laws are different for each Australian state and territory, but early abortion (up to 14 weeks) is available Australia wide, and later abortion is available in most states and territories.

Abortion is a medical or surgical procedure where the foetus or embryo is removed or expelled from the uterus (womb). Most abortions are performed during the first trimester of pregnancy (up to 12 weeks), but some may be performed in the second trimester (12 to 24 weeks) or, in rare circumstances, in the third trimester (24 to 36 weeks).

Studies show most women who have had an abortion feel they made the right decision and are unlikely to experience long-term psychological or emotional problems. In most cases, emotional distress peaks before the procedure and resolves soon after.

Where to get more information, support or advice

This information has been produced in consultation with and approved by: Better Health Channel

Better Health Channel

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Last updated: 5 June 2016

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