It is estimated that around a quarter of all pregnancies in Australia are unplanned. There are many reasons for unplanned pregnancy and choosing what to do is a personal decision and based on a range of factors and circumstances.

Am I pregnant?

If you have had unprotected sex and think you may be pregnant you can buy a pregnancy test (from the pharmacy or supermarket) or see a doctor or nurse.

Illustration of doctor listening to client

A pregnancy test will not usually be accurate until around the time your menstrual period is due. If you do the test too early, it may give you a false (incorrect) result.

What are my options?

If you have had sex in the last five days and do not want to be pregnant you can use emergency contraception such as the emergency contraceptive pill or non-hormonal copper IUD.

If you are pregnant and do not want to be it is your choice what you would like to do, regardless of your age or relationship status. Unplanned pregnancy is very common and there are many support services available. You have the following options:

Abortion

Abortion, also known as termination of pregnancy, is a safe and common method to end a pregnancy. Two types of abortion are currently available in Australia. Both are low-risk and have a high success rate. You can choose either a:

Only a small number of clinics provide surgical abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy.

To find surgical or medical abortion services in Victoria, contact 1800 My Options phone line 1800 696 784 or website.

A new pregnancy can occur very soon after an abortion, so if you want to prevent pregnancy, you may want to discuss contraception options with your doctor or nurse. Most contraception options can be initiated at the time of abortion or soon after, provided you do not have any medical conditions that make the option unsuitable.

For more information on abortion see: Types of Abortions

Continuing the pregnancy and parenting

If you want to become a parent, prenatal (pregnancy) care is important for your health and your baby. See a doctor or nurse about your health, childbirth options, and referral to a hospital and other support services.

Continuing the pregnancy and adopting

Adoption is when you voluntarily give up all your legal rights and responsibilities in relation to your baby and the adoptive parents become the baby’s legal parents. Foster care is temporary care of children by trained, assessed and accredited foster carers. The Victorian government has some information to help you with adoption and foster care.

If you are continuing a pregnancy, prenatal (pregnancy) care is important for your health and your baby. See a doctor or nurse about your health, childbirth options, and referral to a hospital and other support services.

Who can I talk to?

When deciding what to do it is usually helpful to find someone supportive to talk to. Choose someone you trust. This may be your partner, a friend, a family member, a health professional or a counsellor.

Unplanned pregnancy is common and there are many support services available.

You can speak to your doctor or nurse or visit Family Planning Victoria (FPV) to discuss your options.

Pregnancy choices and counselling

Many people reach a decision about unplanned pregnancy without professional support. For others, particularly those having difficulty making a decision, counselling offers a valuable opportunity to talk in a safe and confidential environment. Counselling provides time to explore your feelings, thoughts, beliefs and response to pregnancy and your options.

Counselling should always be non-biased and non-directive. This means you need to be provided with accurate information to make the decision on what to do about your pregnancy. A health professional should not direct you to a decision.

Although the decision is yours, in some cases, a partner, friend or family member may also request counselling.

Medicare-rebated non-directive pregnancy counselling is provided by some doctors, social workers, mental health nurses and psychologists. A general practitioner (GP) referral may be required.

At Family Planning Victoria we offer pregnancy choices information sessions with a nurse. These sessions provide non-biased, non-directive, accurate information about all unplanned pregnancy options and support people to make their own informed decision.

Not all counselling is non-biased and non-directive

Some organisations that claim to offer pregnancy counselling or family planning services do not consider all options in a non-biased, non-directive way. It is helpful to ask the organisation you are contacting what their position is regarding unplanned pregnancy before making an appointment.


Where to get more information, support or advice

Last updated: 7 July 2021