It’s estimated that about half of the pregnancies in the United States are unplanned. Of those, about 30% are considered “mistimed,” meaning the woman wanted children eventually, but became pregnant earlier than expected. First and foremost, if you find yourself in this situation, don’t panic. There are many resources and options available to help.

From anger to fear to anxiety, these feelings are all normal as you process the changes that are happening. Fortunately, there can often be some excellent local resources. For example, those facing unplanned pregnancy in Des Plaines, IL can find a recognized and accredited center to provide the right support and guidance, allowing them to make informed decisions and get through this difficult time.

Talk to Someone

When you first discover you are unexpectedly pregnant, it can help to talk to someone you trust. This can be a coworker, a friend or a family member. In times of crisis, leaning on your support system can give you the strength to make empowered decisions.

Get the Facts

After the initial shock begins to subside, it’s time to see your OB/GYN. These doctors specialize in women’s care including menopause, childbirth and menstruation. Your OB will be able to tell you how far the pregnancy has progressed. He or she will also want to know if you take any medications or if you have any chronic illnesses such as depression or diabetes.

At this point, you may still be undecided about how you wish to proceed with the pregnancy. Even still, it’s a good idea to start taking care of yourself. If you smoke or drink, try to stop. It’s also a good idea to watch your stress levels and begin taking a 400-800mcg folic acid vitamin each day.

Discuss Your Options

Next, you’ll need to decide how to handle the pregnancy. A woman usually has three choices when faced with unexpected pregnancy: she can continue with the pregnancy and raise the child, she can choose to have an abortion or she can give the baby up for adoption.

This decision will not be easy to make. If the father is known and available, it may be a good idea to discuss these options with him. In the case of sexual abuse or if the father is not known, you may need to make this decision on your own.

Make a Decision

If you choose the parenting route, you should be prepared for an extensive emotional and financial commitment. You’ll probably need to change some aspects of your lifestyle to create the best environment to raise healthy children. Although challenging, most parents find the experience to be a fulfilling endeavor.

If choosing abortion, the pregnancy will be terminated under a doctor’s supervision. Once the procedure is complete, the woman no longer has an obligation to the baby. For some women, abortion can cause mental strain and feelings of regret. Meeting with a licensed therapist is often recommended.

If choosing adoption, you will not have the day-to-day parenting requirements. But, depending on the agreement, you may still be able to see the child occasionally. Some birth parents find it hard to watch the child grow up from afar.

No matter which route you choose, know that you are not alone in your unplanned pregnancy. With the right support and guidance, you can make the best choice for your situation.