Coping with an Unexpected Pregnancy

Oopsie, Baby!

Unexpected pregnancies can be exciting, but they can also cause anxiety, depression and fear of what the future holds. There is, however, a light at the end of the tunnel and there are ways you can cope with the changes you'll face bringing your new baby into the world.

By Jennifer Newton Reents

Unexpected PregnanceAs many as one in four pregnancies in this country today are unplanned. And despite the stereotypes, not all of those surprising expectations are among unwed teenagers.

"An unexpected pregnancy is an extremely common occurrence," says psychologist Margaret Howard, Ph.D., the clinical director of the Postpartum Depression Day Hospital at Women & Infants' Hospital in Providence, R.I. And, oftentimes, she adds, these women "find themselves facing a host of emotional reactions."

Regardless of your age and circumstances, disbelief and shock are common reactions, Howard says. "For couples who already have a young child or children at home, an unplanned pregnancy can result in feeling overwhelmed and 'at a loss' as to how they will manage another baby."

Howard, who counsels many families that face unexpected pregnancies, says many families not only worry about finances, but housing and space considerations, as well as how they will handle the time, energy and fatigue that it takes to take care of a new baby. Fortunately, Howard notes, these fears are usually short-lived. "Every couple experiences their own set of unique reactions to the discovery of an unexpected pregnancy. Talking about their feelings, both positive and negative, with trusted friends and family members can be enormously helpful. Seeking a professional sounding-board may be necessary when the emotional reactions begin to interfere with day-to-day functioning."

Finances: Make Changes in Your Spending Now

If your concerns are primarily a matter of finances, here are some strategies to consider:

  • Consolidate your debt.

  • Ask for forbearance on paying back your school loans for a year.

  • Put off major purchases for a while.

  • Go without your premium cable TV channels.

  • Turn off one of your cell phones or lower your calling plan to something more affordable.

  • Try to conserve energy in your home, such as turning out the lights when they aren't needed - it's the little things that can make a difference.

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