I think I’m pregnant
What should I do?
If you haven’t confirmed that you are pregnant you can do that easily by taking a pregnancy test.
You may want to talk to someone – perhaps a good friend. You may want to talk to someone who doesn’t know you and won’t tell anyone else. At TPAC our advisors are friendly, well trained and follow our confidentiality policy. You can make an appointment, just drop in, call our helpline, or email us.
My period’s late, am I pregnant?
A period can be missed or late for a number of reasons. To find out if you are pregnant you need to take a pregnancy test.
How do I get a pregnancy test?
- Visit TPAC. We can perform a test for you free of charge and give you the result immediately. We can also offer you support and advice, and information about your pregnancy. You can make an appointment, just drop in, call our helpline or email us.
- Visit your GP who will perform a test for you free of charge. The result will be available in a few days.
- Buy a home testing kit. These are quick, 99% accurate and simple to use. They cost between £5 and £15. If the test is positive you can then make an appointment to see your GP, or visit us at TPAC. We can help you work out how long you have been pregnant, give information and advice, and talk through any concerns or questions you may have.
- Visit an NHS Walk in Centre who will perform a test free of charge.
You may like to have somebody with you when you find out the result of your pregnancy test. This could be a good friend or family member, your GP, or a trained advisor at TPAC. If you come to us we won’t share that information with anyone else without your permission (ask to see our confidentiality policy)
How can I tell my family I’m pregnant?
Telling your family that you are pregnant may be very difficult if the pregnancy is unplanned. This could be because you are still at school or college, you are unmarried or don’t have a partner, or perhaps you think they will feel your family is already big enough.
Many families are very supportive and will be a great help once they have come to terms with your news. But of course everyone’s situation is different. At TPAC our advisors can support you in telling your family; they can listen to your concerns, help you decide on the best way to tell them and support you however they respond to your news. Contact us to make an appointment or just drop in.
Where can I get help
At TPAC our advisors are here for you to talk to. They’ll listen to you and help you work through any concerns or questions you may have. They can also give you information about pregnancy, birth, abortion and adoption. Our specially trained ultrasonographers can give you a free ultrasound scan so you can see your baby if you would like to.
Our advisors also have lots of information available about the support and help that’s available to mothers in different circumstances.
Who can I talk to?
At TPAC we have a team of caring, trained advisors. They will listen to you, they will not judge you, and they will not share what you tell them with anyone else (see our confidentiality policy). Talking about your situation and your feelings may help you to see the issues more clearly and can be a first step towards making a positive decision about your future. We can help you look at all the information available to you, and support you during (and after) your pregnancy. You can make an appointment, just drop in, call our helpline, or email us.
What about abortion?
If you are considering having an abortion it’s really important to know what it involves.
Abortion is ending an unwanted pregnancy using medicine (taking tablets) or surgery (having an operation).
A medical abortion can be used at any stage of pregnancy, but most often within the first 9 weeks.
A medical abortion usually involves two visits to a clinic or hospital. At the first visit, a tablet is taken which makes the lining of the womb unsuitable for the baby to grow in. Bleeding and stomach cramps may occur after this. Some women may pass the contents of their womb before the second clinic visit.
At the second visit (36-48 hours later), up to 4 tablets are placed in the vagina. These tablets make the womb contract so that its contents are passed. For most women this stage of the abortion takes between 1 and 6 hours. During this time there will be some pain and bleeding.
Occasionally the medicines are not effective in causing an abortion, in which case a short operation is required to make sure the womb is completely emptied.
If a medical abortion is used after 20 weeks of pregnancy, it also involves an injection into the womb to stop the baby’s heart, before the contractions are started using vaginal tablets. Strong pain killers are usually required.
A Surgical abortion can take place between 7 and 24 weeks of pregnancy, but is rarely used after 20 weeks. There are several different types of surgical abortion, so here is an overview of the more common methods:
Vacuum Aspiration (between 7 and 14 weeks of pregnancy)
Under local or general anaesthetic a suction tube is inserted into the womb and the contents are removed using an electric suction pump. It is usually possible to go home after 3-4 hours. There may be bleeding for up to 14 days, or sometimes a bit longer.
Dilatation and Evacuation (between 15 and 24 weeks of pregnancy)
Vaginal tablets are used to soften the entrance to the womb (cervix) before this procedure, which is usually done under general anaesthetic.
By this stage the developing baby is larger, so the entrance to the womb must be stretched (dilatation) in order for the contents of the womb to be removed (evacuation) using metal forceps. Any remaining tissue is removed using a suction tube. It is usually possible to go home 3-4 hours after this procedure. There may be bleeding for up to 14 days or sometimes longer. Occasionally an overnight stay in hospital is required for a surgical abortion, especially in later pregnancy. If a surgical abortion is used after 20 weeks of pregnancy, it also involves an injection into the womb to stop the baby’s heart from beating.
What are the risks?
As with all clinical procedures there are risks associated with abortion. In some instances the following physical complications may occur:
- Excessive bleeding, sometimes requiring a blood transfusion or surgical procedure
- Infection which could lead to fertility problems
- Damage to the cervix or womb
- Failed abortion/ incomplete abortion requiring further treatment
- Miscarriage or premature delivery in future pregnancies
Are there any psychological effects of abortion?
Women often feel relief immediately after an abortion, but later on some find it hard to come to terms with their experience and the choice they made.
Women have reported feelings of guilt, shame, grief, depression, anxiety and panic. Negative experiences including flashbacks, relationship problems, drug and alcohol abuse, self-harm, sleeping problems, avoidance of children and anxiety about infertility can also follow an abortion.
If you are concerned about these risks, talk to one of our advisors who will help to answer your questions.
Feeling under pressure?
An unplanned pregnancy can make you panic and abortion often feels like the only way out.
If you’re considering abortion because other people are putting pressure on you it’s important that you take the time to think for yourself.
It’s your decision.
If you need support and a listening ear why not talk to a TPAC advisor? You can make an appointment, just drop in, call our helpline, or email us.
How could I ever afford to have the baby?
Having a baby can be financially demanding, but there is help available. The advisors at TPAC have information about benefits, Tax Credits, maternity pay, Sure Start grants, childcare providers etc. What you are able to claim will depend on your situation: whether you are single or not, if you are working or in education, and where you are living. We can direct you to people who will be able to help you work out what you will be entitled to, and support you in planning your finances.
Here are some examples of financial support for parents…
If you are working you will be entitled to maternity leave. Your job may be kept open for you if you want to go back some time after the birth. You may be able to arrange more flexible hours, or to work part time. The amount of maternity pay you are entitled to and the length of time you may take off work will depend on how long you have been in your job and the policy your employer has. You may also be entitled to working families’ tax credit.
Even if you are not working you will be able to claim child tax credit.
You will be entitled to child benefit (even if you are under 16 years old).
If you are not working you may be able to claim income support. The amount for a parent with a child is more than for a single person.
If you have no other children under 16 and you or your partner are receiving certain income-related benefits, you may qualify for a £500 Sure Start maternity grant.
There is much more help available, including education grants, help with childcare costs, enterprise grants (if you want to work from home) and help with debt problems. Contact us for more information. You can also get information about most benefits (and maternity pay) fromwww.dwp.gov.uk
If I kept my baby how would I finish my education?
Having a baby does not need to mean the end of your education. In fact, the education system today is more flexible than it has ever been.
How and when you continue with your education will depend on what stage you are at (school, college or university) and what will suit you and your baby best. You may be able to study at home or take some time off and return. You may be able to transfer to a different place of study with more support or on-site childcare. This will depend on your personal circumstances and your choice.
At TPAC we can give you information about all these options and find out further information for you.
Is adoption a possibility?
If you feel unable to care for your baby then adoption means you can arrange for them to be cared for by a loving family. It means you can give your child the kind of life you would want to give them, but you feel you cannot give them now yourself.
Many people have negative images about the adoption process – often from films or books which do not give a true picture of what it is like in Britain today. Some things you may not know are:
- Studies show that most adoptions work out happily
- Your child can have a life book that tells them what you would like them to know about you (and their father)
- You can say what sort of people you would like as parents for your child
Deciding now to place your baby for adoption does not mean you cannot change your mind after the baby is born. You can change your mind any time up until the adoption order is made – about 3 months after the birth.
At TPAC we can give you more information about adoption. We can help you consider your decision, and support you through your pregnancy, and if you choose adoption, through the adoption itself. You can make an appointment, just drop in, call our helpline, or email us.
I’m single – if I kept the baby how would I support myself?
Having a baby can be financially demanding, particularly if you are on your own. However, there is help available, including help specifically for single parents. At TPAC we have information about benefits, tax credits, maternity pay, sure start grants, childcare providers etc. What you are able to claim will depend on your situation: if you are working or in education, if you live with your parents, with friends or by yourself. We can help you work out what you will be entitled to, and can also support you in planning your finances if you like.
- If you are working you will be entitled to maternity leave and your job may be kept open for you if you want to go back some time after the birth. You may be able to arrange more flexible hours, or to work part time. The amount of maternity pay you are entitled to and the length of time you may leave will depend on how long you have been in your job and the policy your employer has. You may well be entitled to working families tax credit.
- You will be entitled to child benefit
- Even if you are not working you will be able to claim child tax credit
- If you are not working or on a low income you may be able to claim income support. The amount for a parent and dependant child is more than for a single person.
There is much more available, including education grants, help with childcare costs, enterprise grants (if you want to work from home) and help with debt problems. Contact us for more information. You can also get information about most benefits (and maternity pay) from www.dwp.gov.uk.
See other frequently asked questions.