Surprise Pregnancy – How Do I Cope?

Surprise pregnancy?

It’s okay. You’re not alone.

Almost half of all UK pregnancies are unplanned*. You have plenty of company, whether counting unused tampons or looking at blue lines on a stick.

You might be feeling shock, anxiety, excitement, love, fear or dread. It’s normal to respond with a mix of emotions, with an internal conversation that goes a bit like this:

This is wrong. There are false positives, right? This must be one of those. Except…what if it isn’t?

I’m pregnant. Pregnant. There’s something growing inside of me. Oh God.

How do I tell my parents? What about work? What about school? What about money?

Will I be the same person when I’m nine months’ pregnant? And when the baby comes, will I still be me?


Take a second.

Find a quiet, private space to breathe deeply. Try breathing in through your nose to a count of four, before slowly and gently breathing out through the mouth. Close your eyes. Feel your lungs fill and empty. This signals your body it’s safe to relax.

Whatever you’re feeling, Life has a team of listeners whom you can contact by freephone, text or email to talk through how you feel. You can speak to one of our listeners and receive free emotional help. We don’t judge, and we don’t tell – this service is 100% confidential.

Tap the icons at the top of the page to text, call or message. Alternatively, click the button below:

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Don’t feel like talking? That’s fine. Scroll down and have a bit of a read.

“Am I Pregnant?”

“Uh oh, where’s my period? It hasn’t come this month, and that …”

Doesn’t always mean you’re pregnant.

You can miss your period for lots of reasons, including stress, sudden weight loss or doing too much exercise. If you’re between the ages of 45 or 55, it could be the start of menopause.

Pregnancy tests are much more reliable, as they detect a pregnancy hormone in your urine. However, there are false positives, often caused by medications, or taking the test too early in your cycle.

We offer free pregnancy tests, delivered with utmost discretion. If you’re nervous about taking the test, you can do it while on the phone with one of our counsellors, who can guide you through it, step by step.

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Read our articles:

Coming to Terms With Pregnancy

So, it’s confirmed. There are two lines, a plus sign, or the test reads ‘pregnant’.

There’s no surprise bigger than a surprise pregnancy, and people deal with the confirmationin all sorts of ways. You might be feeling growing shock or disbelief. You might freeze up or ignore the situation. There might be positive emotions like amazement or excitement, mixed in amongst fear and conflict.

Acknowledge how you feel. You can move past these emotions, but right now they are real, and they are powerful.

Journaling is an excellent outlet for working through complex emotions. However, the most effective way to process them is by talking to a safe person. Secrecy and silence reinforce feelings of guilt, shame, loss and hopelessness, but opening up reduces the burden and helps you to heal.

Friends and family can be so helpful, but sometimes it’s safer to talk to somebody else, a kind voice on the end of the phone. Life’s listeners are highly trained, and Life as an organisation is a member of the Helplines Partnership and an associate member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.

Our listeners can help you to process and discuss your options, including adoption, abortion, and raising your baby. We’ll give you a space to think, away from outside pressures.

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How to Tell People You’re Pregnant

There’s no set way to say, “I’m pregnant”. However, we can help you to explore how to tell your parents or your partner in a way that gives them the best chance to respond well to your surprise pregnancy.

  • Tell them when you feel ready, once you’ve had a chance to process your emotions.
  • Tell them in person if you can, at a time they feel open and relaxed.
  • Give them space for them to deal with their immediate reaction. Remember the shock you first felt – it’s likely they’re feeling the same.
  • Come up with some ideas of what you want to do next. It doesn’t need to be a solid plan.
  • You might want to take a friend, who can stand by you and make sure you feel heard.

If you think the person could become violent, don’t visit them alone.

Nobody can make you do something you don’t want to do. If someone’s pressuring you to terminate or put the baby up for adoption, please talk to us. If they’re struggling to accept your surprise pregnancy, they can reach out to us as well.

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Read our article:

Studying with a Surprise Pregnancy

You can still study with an unplanned pregnancy, whether you’re at school, college, or university! You can still sit exams, undergo training, and graduate with everyone else.

Having a baby won’t end your academic life. Instead, it means you’ll have to be proactive, discussing your needs with teachers or tutors so they can be accommodated.

Telling your teacher about an unplanned pregnancy might be intimidating. However, the law protects you from being treated less favourably because of pregnancy or motherhood, and teaching professionals must take pregnancy and maternity leave into account.

With proper support, there’s no reason you can’t get a diploma, go to university or land your dream job!

Read our article:

“Can I Afford a Baby?”

You might be wondering if you have enough money to support a child, but you’re entitled to financial help, no matter your situation or how old you are.

Help ranges from maternity pay to free food vouchers, and although babies are expensive, there are plenty of ways to cut the cost without compromise. For instance, Life provides free baby supplies, including Moses baskets, pushchairs, clothing, cots, and toys.

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“What if I’m Pregnant and Homeless?”

“What if I lose my home? What if my home is no longer safe?”

This can seem like the biggest, most intimidating problem of all. A surprise pregnancy can swiftly change your living situation, leaving you with no safe place to call home.

We welcome dozens of women every year to our Life Houses, people who might otherwise be sofa surfing, rough sleeping or in temporary accommodation. Our clients live in our Houses for up to two years, building their confidence and extending their skills. We help them to integrate motherhood into their goals, so they can pursue their dreams as proud mums.

If there isn’t a Life House near you, we may be able to help you make housing applications to your local authority – just get in touch!

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You might still be feeling unsure, but that’s okay. Surprise pregnancies come with a lot of emotion, and everyone’s situation is unique. If you need counselling, a kind word or a listening ear, we’re always here for you.

Tap the icons at the top of the page to text, call, or message. You can always reach out to us.



* Public Health England (2018) – Health Matters: Reproductive Health and Pregnancy Planning.