In the ideal world we’d prepare our bodies for pregnancy by eating healthily, having a good exercise regime and avoiding toxins like tobacco and alcohol. But life often just isn’t like that and no matter what contraceptive measures are taken, if you’re a sexually active woman of reproductive age then at some point you could find yourself pregnant unexpectedly.
Depending on your circumstances you might greet the news with enthusiasm, or you could be very unhappy to be pregnant, even more likely you’ll be confused, feeling pleased one minute and upset the next. These are all perfectly normal responses to an enormous emotional upheaval.
If you’re happy to be pregnant
Not every unplanned pregnancy is an unwelcome one. While you might not have actively thought about getting pregnant right now, the news that you’re expecting could come as a pleasant surprise even if it’s something of a shock.
If you think you are pregnant you can immediately start protecting the health of your baby and help to give him or her the best start in life by taking a few simple steps. Below are the most important to start off with, but you can find more recommendations here.
- As soon as you can start taking a folic acid supplement of 400mcg daily to assist the healthy development of the fetus
- Cut out smoking, drinking alcohol and taking recreational drugs. All of these have been showed to be potentially damaging to the fetus and the first trimester is when your baby is most vulnerable. If you can’t cut these out then try to cut back as much as you possibly can
Arrange a first appointment with your doctor to confirm the pregnancy and discuss any medication you are currently taking as well as any herbal or homeopathic treatments so you’re sure you’re not taking anything that may harm your developing child
- Be particularly careful when handling pets to avoid toxoplasmosis and start reading up on what foods you should avoid (or stock up on!)
When a pregnancy isn’t good news
It’s not just fifteen-year-old schoolgirls who can find the idea of being pregnant overwhelming and unwelcome: at any age the decision to have a child is a big one, with an impact on your career, financial situation and family. The worst thing to do at this stage is to pretend it’s not happening, you need to face the reality of the pregnancy as soon as possible.
When you’re thinking about your options, it’s a good idea to follow the pointers above to look after the pregnancy in its early stages. If you can, talk through your options with professional counsellors or a reliable, non-judgemental friend - whatever you decide to do you’re going to need support.