It is estimated that around a quarter of all pregnancies in Australia are unplanned. There are many reasons for unplanned pregnancy and choosing what to do is a personal decision and based on a range of factors and circumstances.
Am I pregnant?
If you have had unprotected sex and think you may be pregnant you can buy a pregnancy test (from the pharmacy or supermarket) or see a doctor or nurse.
A pregnancy test will not usually be accurate until around the time your menstrual period is due. If you do the test too early, it may give you a false (incorrect) result.
What are my options?
If you are pregnant and do not want to be it is your choice what you would like to do, regardless of your age or relationship status. Unplanned pregnancy is very common and there are many support services available. You have the following options:
Abortion, also known as termination of pregnancy, is a safe and common method to end a pregnancy. Two types of abortion are currently available in Australia. Both are low-risk and have a high success rate. You can choose either a:
Only a small number of clinics provide surgical abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy.
A new pregnancy can occur very soon after an abortion, so if you want to prevent pregnancy, you may want to discuss contraception options with your doctor or nurse. Most contraception options can be initiated at the time of abortion or soon after, provided you do not have any medical conditions that make the option unsuitable.
For more information on abortion see: Types of Abortions
Continuing the pregnancy and parenting
If you want to become a parent, prenatal (pregnancy) care is important for your health and your baby. See a doctor or nurse about your health, childbirth options, and referral to a hospital and other support services.
Continuing the pregnancy and adopting
Adoption is when you voluntarily give up all your legal rights and responsibilities in relation to your baby and the adoptive parents become the baby’s legal parents. Foster care is temporary care of children by trained, assessed and accredited foster carers. The Victorian government has some information to help you with adoption and foster care.
If you are continuing a pregnancy, prenatal (pregnancy) care is important for your health and your baby. See a doctor or nurse about your health, childbirth options, and referral to a hospital and other support services.
Who can I talk to?
When deciding what to do it is usually helpful to find someone supportive to talk to. Choose someone you trust. This may be your partner, a friend, a family member, a health professional or a counsellor.
Unplanned pregnancy is common and there are many support services available.
You can speak to your doctor or nurse or visit Sexual Health Victoria (SHV) to discuss your options.
Pregnancy choices and counselling
Many people reach a decision about unplanned pregnancy without professional support. For others, particularly those having difficulty making a decision, counselling offers a valuable opportunity to talk in a safe and confidential environment. Counselling provides time to explore your feelings, thoughts, beliefs and response to pregnancy and your options.
Counselling should always be non-biased and non-directive. This means you need to be provided with accurate information to make the decision on what to do about your pregnancy. A health professional should not direct you to a decision.
Although the decision is yours, in some cases, a partner, friend or family member may also request counselling.
Medicare-rebated non-directive pregnancy counselling is provided by some doctors, social workers, mental health nurses and psychologists. A general practitioner (GP) referral may be required.
At Sexual Health Victoria we offer pregnancy choices information sessions with a nurse. These sessions provide non-biased, non-directive, accurate information about all unplanned pregnancy options and support people to make their own informed decision.
Not all counselling is non-biased and non-directive
Some organisations that claim to offer pregnancy counselling or family planning services do not consider all options in a non-biased, non-directive way. It is helpful to ask the organisation you are contacting what their position is regarding unplanned pregnancy before making an appointment.
Where to get more information, support or advice
- Your local doctor (GP)
- 1800 My Options
- Sexual Health Victoria's clinics for a pregnancy choices information session with one of our nurses or a medical abortion (abortion pill)
- The Royal Women's Hospital Pregnancy Advisory Service
- Parentline Victoria
- Better Health Channel
- Marie Stopes Australia
- Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health
- Young Women’s Health Program (support, pregnancy care and education for young pregnant and parenting women 19 years old and under)
- Victorian Department of Human Services Adoption and Permanent Care Program
- A doctor or nurse
- Your local community health service
- An obstetrician or gynaecologist
- A public hospital (for pregnancy care or some provide a limited number of free abortions)
- A private abortion provider
- A psychologist or counsellor
- Your youth worker, social worker, support worker