Unplanned Pregnancy Checklist
Over the years, I have attended many counseling sessions around the topic of unexpected pregnancies and the possible options. It never fails that one or more of those present has strong opinions regarding what the pregnant party should or should not do about the baby.
While emotions usually run high in this type of situation, it is no reason to let all rules of decorum fly out the window. Words like 'kill', in reference to abortion, and 'give away', in reference to adoption, are usually the first sign that things are going to get ugly. Those words and others like them are emotionally charged and serve no purpose other than rile up the already flustered and deeply emotional pregnant party.
Here's a checklist to help you when confronting this type of situation:
1. Stay calm . While this sounds like it makes perfect sense, as soon as the complaints start flying as to who fault the pregnancy is, calm and cool go out the window. Keep in mind that everyone connected to the pregnant party has an opinion and emotions attached to the situation. Everyone has a stake. Whatever the pregnancy brings with it great joy or devastating loss, the level of emotion is high.
2. Focus on the mother . What ever role the mother played in the getting pregnant part of the situation, this is still a stressful time. A pregnancy affects the mother more than anyone else regardless of who is involved. It is her body that is carrying the child and her life that is going to be forever altered. Lending her a listening ear is what she can really use more than anything right now. Sure, decisions need to be made about her future and the future of the child she's carrying, but first let her get through all the layers of emotion. Deal with your emotions and opinions somewhere else. Being a safe place for her is really what she needs right now. And being open to her now may lead to her being open to your opinions later.
3. Know the facts . Maybe you have experienced an unexpected pregnancy. Maybe you have not. Either way, it's important to be informed with the facts and arm yourself with the truth. Pregnancy resource centers are excellent places to find that type of information. They supply information on abortion, adoption and parenting and most do so free of charge. Many centers also offer sonograms to confirm the pregnancy vitality and to more accurately predict the due date.
Unintended pregnancy can be stressful on everyone involved, but none so much as the mother. Your support and encouragement of her during this time could be the difference between her making an informed decision or one based on pressure.
By Terri Gake
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