Pregnancy: having an "unwanted" baby

Jennie Blythe
Thursday, December 3, 2009

Finding out that you're pregnant can be one of the biggest bombshells that you'll ever hear, unexpected pregnancy or planned. Suddenly your whole life is thrown into turmoil, and coping with the emotions (on top of possible pregnancy hormones) is like riding a rollercoaster.

So you think you want to keep the baby? Here are some factors to consider:

Obviously you didn't get pregnant by yourself, but this doesn't mean that you have a regular boyfriend or husband. In itself this isn't the be-all-and-end-all in terms of raising a child: plenty of people have gone through with it, both through choice or through death or separation after the birth, but having a child by yourself is a great deal of work to take on, and particularly if you need to work full-time to support yourself and your child.

If you do have a partner, you must discuss your pregnancy with him and take his views into account. This doesn't necessarily mean that you have to follow a course of action against your will if, say, he is in favour of a termination, but it does allow you to know where you stand. There's a good chance that your partner may be supportive of having a child, or it could be that you may need to reassess your relationship further down the track: having a baby can put enormous strain on any couple, and not least one that is wracked by resentment.

Other support networks
It can also be useful to look at the other sources of support that are available around you, such as your family or friends. Bringing up a child is a full-time job, and any break from doing it can come as a welcome relief, no matter how much you love your child. Don't overlook other sources of support that are around: organisations such as mother and baby groups can be unexpected places to meet like-minded mums (and dads) — your life will change as you have a child, and this means that you will come into contact with different types of people.

The family coffers
If you're planning to keep your child, work out carefully what it will mean to your budget — bearing in mind that babies can be expensive, and that you will need to be off work for at least a little while. If your gut instinct is really to keep your baby, material considerations such as money won't make much difference to your attitude, but it's still worth doing your homework. Doing this means that you are prepared for the eventualities and can plan ahead — for example, being on the receiving end of hand-me-downs or being able to take advantage of seasonal and garage sales.

Lifestyle factors
One of the problems with not knowing that you are pregnant is that you are not normally taking care of yourself in the way that you might do if you knew. While eating a bit unhealthily is unlikely to have much adverse effect on your unborn child, smoking and drinking to excess might. Only you know how much you do of either (or both), and it depends on the stage of pregnancy you're in when you find out, but it is worth seeking your doctor's advice if you are concerned about your consumption of cigarettes, alcohol or illicit drugs, or about your ability to stop for the remainder of your pregnancy.

General health
Sometimes women find themselves pregnant when they hadn't planned to be because of health issues. These could include diabetes, epilepsy, HIV infection or any number of diseases such as lupus. If you have any health concerns and find yourself pregnant, the best course of action is to speak to your doctor who will most likely refer you to a specialist. Again, a condition does not mean that a pregnancy is untenable, but that it needs a little more attention and specialist care than most.

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