Unwanted Pregnancy? Find Out the Options Available to You
More often than not, pregnancy is presented as this wonderful time in which you’re glowing and excited for motherhood. For many women, this happens to be the case. However, finding out that you are pregnant may give rise to very different feelings for different people. You may be happy and excited about it, or scared and uncertain as to what to do. The important thing to remember is that all of these feelings are normal. The decisions you now have to make take an understandable toll on your emotional wellness. If you are pregnant, you have four choices to consider. You can keep the pregnancy and have the baby – which we’ll visit a bit more later on – you can keep the pregnancy and give the baby up for adoption, you can keep the pregnancy and give the baby into foster care or you can have an abortion.
With regards to this latter option, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. By the time they are 45 years old, one in three women in the UK will have an abortion. If it’s not possible for you to have the baby, you can contact your GP or sexual health clinic. All of your treatment will be completely free and confidential, even if you are under 16. While it’s legal to have an abortion at any time before you reach week 24 of your pregnancy, it’s far better for your wellbeing if you contact the services as early as possible, as this means you’ll have more options. If you do decide to have an abortion, you may need to attend more than one appointment at the clinic, although, in most cases, the abortion itself will be carried out as a day procedure. An initial appointment will give you the opportunity to talk through the procedure and your choices. The procedure may then be carried out on a different day.
Depending on how far along you are, you will have either a medical or a surgical abortion. Early on in a pregnancy – up to nine weeks – you can have a medical abortion in which you take two sets of pills over two visits (24 or 48 hours apart). You take the tablets orally on your first visit, and then internally on your second visit, and this causes the pregnancy to pass out of your body. With this kind of abortion, it’s common to experience discomfort, very strong cramps and heavy bleeding, which normally lasts for approximately three to five hours until the pregnancy has passed. However, it’s more common to have a surgical abortion, in which gentle suction is used to empty the uterus. The procedure, which only lasts for five to 10 minutes, can be done under either local anaesthetic or general anaesthetic. Regardless of the method of abortion you use, it’s vital that you talk to someone at the clinic about your contraceptive choices afterwards. Most types of contraception can be started immediately after you have had the procedure.
However, if you decide to continue your pregnancy, you need to look after your wellbeing – and your baby’s – as soon as possible. This means you need to visit your GP as soon as possible to begin your antenatal care (which is a term used for care leading up to the birth of the baby). Your doctor will arrange all the scans and midwife appointments you need, as well as giving you plenty of information about how to care for yourself and your growing baby during pregnancy. This will include avoiding drugs and alcohol, avoiding smoking and cigarette smoking, healthy eating, regular exercise and taking folic acid during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy.