My partner’s pregnant
What should I do?
An unplanned pregnancy can be a huge shock to anyone. You may well be unsure how you feel yourself. You may feel at a loss about how to help, or as though you are not allowed to have an opinion as it is all happening in your partner’s body. However, it is unlikely she wants to make any decision without you being involved.
You can help her, and yourself by:
- Talking together openly and honestly about your thoughts and feelings. Sometimes couples pull apart when faced with a problem, but it is better for both of you if you can face it together. Do you know how your partner is feeling? It is important that she feels she can be open with you. What you say to her at this time is important and your support and help will be vital to her. It may be tempting to say what you feel is the ‘right thing’ or say ‘I’ll support you whatever you do’. But she needs to know what you really think. You may feel you need to be strong for your partner and so can’t share your anxiety or real feelings with her. However, you also need support. It might be helpful for you to take some time to work out your own thoughts about becoming a father. Perhaps you can talk to a good friend or family member. If you want to talk to someone who doesn’t know you, and who won’t judge you, feel free to make an appointment at TPAC, just drop in, or call or text our helpline. We won’t share what you tell us with anyone else (ask to see our confidentiality policy).
- Seeking support and help as a couple. Something that might help you to communicate well with each other is seeking help as a couple. One way of doing this is by coming to TPAC together. We can give you information that you can then discuss, and we can answer any questions you may have. Why not make an appointment at TPAC or just drop in?
- Gathering information. At TPAC our team of advisors are here for you and your partner to talk to. They’ll listen to you and help you both work through any concerns or questions that you may have. They can provide information about pregnancy, birth, abortion and adoption, and also have lots of information available about the support and help that’s available to parents in different circumstances. Our specially trained ultrasonographers can also offer your partner a free early ultrasound scan so you can both get a clearer idea of your child’s development.
Who can I talk to?
At TPAC we have a team of trained advisors. They will listen to you, they will not judge you, and they will not share what you tell them with anyone else (ask to see our confidentiality policy). Talking about your situation may help you see it more clearly and can be a good first step towards making decisions about the future. We can help you look at all the information available to you, answer your questions, and support you and your partner during pregnancy (and after). You can make an appointment, just drop in, or call our helpline.
What does abortion involve?
If you and/or your partner are considering 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 a 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 subsequent 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.
Research also highlights the effects abortion has on men. Men have reported feelings of guilt, anxiety about their partner’s health, self doubt and pain over the loss of their child. Some men have also reported relationship problems which they felt resulted from the decision to have 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 or your partner is considering abortion because other people are putting pressure on you it’s important that you both take the time to think for yourself.
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 send us an email.
How could we ever afford to keep 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 and your partner are able to claim will depend on your situation: whether you are working or are in education, and where you are living. We can direct you to people who will be able to help you both 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 your partner is working she will be entitled to maternity leave. Her job may be kept open for her if she wants to go back some time after the birth. She may be able to arrange more flexible hours, or to work part time. The amount of maternity pay she is entitled to and the length of time she may take off work will depend on how long she has been in her job and the policy her employer has. She may also be entitled to Working Tax Credit.
Even if your partner is not working she will be able to claim child tax credit.
Your partner will be entitled to child benefit.
If your partner is not working she may be able to claim income support. The amount for a parent with a child is more than for a single person.
If your partner has no other children under 16 and either of you are receiving certain income-related benefits, she 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 your partner wants 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
If we kept the baby how would we finish our 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.
If you are still of school age, there are schools that your partner can go to (during pregnancy and once the baby arrives) so that she can finish her education. She can take her baby to school with her as there are on-site nurseries which she won’t have to pay for.
Most further education colleges help students to access childcare, and, if you’re under 20, the Care to Learn scheme can help towards childcare costs.
The universities in Newcastle support students who have children in completing their studies; it may be possible to take a year off or to study part-time; there are also hardship grants available.
The advisors at TPAC have information about different options and can put you and your partner in touch with organisations that can help you to finish your education and go on to further training if you wish.
Why not make an appointment at TPAC, just drop in, call our helpline or send an email?
Is adoption an option?
Adoption can be a very positive option for you, your partner and your baby. If together 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 both
- You can say what sort of people you would like as parents for your child
Deciding together 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 together, and support you and your partner through the pregnancy and the adoption itself if you like. Drop in and see us or call our helpline to make an appointment.
See other frequently asked questions.