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Unplanned Pregnancy

The idea that you might be pregnant can be overwhelming for any woman, whether the pregnancy is planned or not, but always remember - you're the only person who can know whether you're ready to have a child, and what you do is your own decision.

This information is designed to help you make decisions about unplanned pregnancies. It doesn't aim to encourage you to make any particular decision, only to provide a guide so you can look at all the options that are available to you.

Much of the content on these pages is reproduced with the kind permission of SHine SA, and is also available in a downloadable leaflet.

  • Are you Pregnant?

    The first step is to find out for sure whether you're pregnant. Some of the first signs of pregnancy are:

    • a missed period, or a period that's shorter or lighter than usual.
    • tiredness and loss of energy.
    • tenderness or swelling in your breasts.
    • urinating more than usual.
    • vomiting.
    • food cravings.

    Having one or more of these signs doesn't necessarily mean that you are pregnant - and it's also possible to be pregnant and not experience any of the above! To confirm whether you're pregnant, you'll therefore need to take a pregnancy test.

    There are two types of pregnancy tests - a urine test and a blood test. You can do the urine test yourself by buying one from a pharmacy or supermarket, or you can see your doctor, SHine SA or the Pregnancy Advisory Centre. Testing your urine first thing in the morning gives most accurate results, and it is important to follow the instructions on your test carefully. If either a blood or urine test is done before you have missed a period, it may not be accurate.

  • Getting Support

    If you're pregnant you may feel that talking about the pregnancy isn't going to help, but women often find it does help them to consider their choices and decide what to do. You don't have to make the decision alone. It's often helpful to get support as early as possible.

    Think about who might be there for you, to listen to you and provide support so you can make the right decision for yourself. It can be very helpful to talk your situation over with someone you trust but who won't try to tell you what to do. This may be a friend, your partner or a member of your family, or someone from a health service.

    If you're looking for professional support, it's important to be aware that some organisations that advertise themselves as helping pregnant women can be biased . They may not give you information about all of your options, or they may actively try to discourage you from considering a termination/abortion. If you're not getting the advice and support you want, you can always go elsewhere for help.

    To find out about an organisation before you approach it for help, you can call: SHine SA Sexual Healthline on 1300 883 793, or the Women's Information Service on 8303 0590, and they'll give you details.

  • Your Options

    Once you've confirmed that you're pregnant, you have three choices:

    • to continue the pregnancy and become a parent,
    • to continue the pregnancy and consider adoption or alternative care, or
    • to have a termination and end the pregnancy.

    Whatever you decide, the choice is yours.

    Some of the things you may want to consider when you're making a decision are:

    • Firstly, would you 'rule out' any of the choices above?
    • Secondly, how do you feel about being pregnant? It may help you to write down your feelings, fears, hopes and worries. Make a list of how you feel about each of the options you are considering.
    • Thirdly, what may be the effects of each option for you - both positive and negative effects? It can be helpful to list these and look over the lists to compare them.
    • Fourthly, how would other people who are important to you react? Can you discuss this with them? Would their reactions affect your decision?
    • Finally, what do you think needs to be in place before you become a parent? Some women feel that it's very important to have a secure place to call home, to finish school, to have a supportive partner or to pay off some debt before having a child. Everyone is different. What steps could you take to put any of these into place? How do you feel about taking these steps?

    It's normal to feel confused or even unsure about one particular choice you may be 'leaning towards'. Even if you  feel certain about your decision, consider making an appointment with a women's or sexual health service to find out:

    • how many weeks pregnant you are, and
    • what your time-frame for decision-making is.

    The right decision for you may not, in the end, feel 100% 'right', but the bottom line is: your emotional and mental health and wellbeing are the most important things to consider.

    If you decide to continue with your pregnancy, contact your GP, local SHine SA office or hospital to discuss  options for antenatal care. To book into a public hospital for antenatal care, call the Pregnancy SA Infoline on 1300 368 820. You can also call the Women's Information Service on 8303 0590 to ask about support services, including emotional, housing, financial, legal and other support.

    The Women's and Children's Health Network is an important resource for pregnancy and parenting. You can call their Parent Helpline on 1300 364 100. Their websiteLink to Womens and Children's Health Network Pregnancy website in a new window has valuable advice in the Parenting section, and young parents can also go to the Teen health section. The Pregnancy Advisory Centre has useful information about continuing with a pregnancy available on their website Link to Pregnancy Advisory Centre website in a new window .

    The decision to place a child for adoption is an extremely difficult one, and can be made for many reasons. If you're considering placing your child for adoption, The Adoption & Family Information ServiceLink to the Adoption and Family Information Service in a new window can provide counselling as you work through options for yourself and your child. Other options for your child's care, such as fostering, may also be possible and you can also discuss these with the Adoption & Family Information Service. If you place your child for adoption, you will have to give up all parental rights to and responsibilities for your child. The child will be permanently placed with an adoptive family and you and your family will have no claim on them. The Adoption & Family Information Service can be contacted on 8207 0060.

    Further information on adoption provided by Placement Services Families SA:

    The parents of any child born in South Australia, or currently living in South Australia, can consider whether they want to place their child for adoption. Adoption permanently severs the legal relationship between the birth parents and the child, and creates for the child a new legal family, and a new identity. It cannot be undone, and is therefore something that can only be entered into after careful thought and consideration. Our legislation requires that parents are fully informed about the long term impact on the child and themselves, before they consent to adoption. Prospective adoptive parents in SA are fully screened, educated and assessed for their suitability, and most will provide ongoing information to birth family about the child's development, and support contact when the child is older, if child and birth family seek that. When a child is 18, they are legally allowed to have identifying information about their birth parents, and may seek to contact them.

    If parents want to inquire about placing a child for adoption, they can contact Families SA, Placement Services, who can provide information and assist them with thinking through the decision. If parents are considering adoption it is a requirement that they participate in several counselling sessions before they make their final decision. There is no pressure to consent to adoption, and Families SA will do all they can to assist parents to care for their child themselves, including speaking to family overseas if this will help. The important thing is for everyone to consider what will be best for the child in the future.

    A child born to international students will take on the Visa status of his/her birth parents at the time of birth. A child born here does not automatically have PR unless one of their birth parents already has Permanent Residency. If Immigration or Visa issues are impacting on the parents ability to have sufficient time to make the best decision about their child's long term care including considering adoption, then Families SA can also liaise with the Department for Immigration and Border Protection, to ensure the child is safe while parents are thinking about what they want to do. For further information please see the South Australian Government's Adoption website.

    Termination (also called abortion) is legal in South Australia. There are two types of termination available - medication termination, which is particularly used early in a pregnancy, and surgical termination, which can be used at any time. You can contact the Pregnancy Advisory CentreLink to Pregnancy Advisory Centre website in a new window for information about termination options and self-referral. Useful information on termination is available on their website. SHine SA also has a pamphlet that gives Information on abortion in South Australia.

    If you need help in making a decision, urgent counselling is available at SHine SA Link to SHine SA website in a new window (1300 883 793) or the Pregnancy Advisory CentreLink to Pregnancy Advisory Centre website in a new window (8243 3999).

    Remember that it's your body, so whether to continue with a pregnancy or not is always your choice. Women who feel they are making their own decisions about their pregnancy are more likely to feel positive about the outcome.


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