What do I do if I have an unplanned pregnancy?

It can be terrifying to find out you’re pregnant when you’re young. Consider all your options and make a decision that’s best for you.

What are my options if I have an unplanned pregnancy? 

According to Action Canada, more than half of all pregnancies are unplanned. It can be difficult to decide what to do if you find yourself in that situation. 

Every person’s situation is different, and you must make a decision that’s best for you and your circumstances. 

If you have an unplanned pregnancy, your options are to:

  • Have a baby and raise the child
  • End the pregnancy through an abortion 
  • Arrange for another family to adopt the baby 

Although others may have a lot of opinions about your pregnancy and what you decide to do about it, there’s also non-judgmental and informed support available for whatever decision you make.

Try to remember that all the emotions you feel while weighing your options are normal and valid. If you’re feeling confused and need non-judgemental support, call Action Canada at 1-888-642-2725 to go over your options. 

If I choose to have an abortion, what can I expect?

If you choose to end your pregnancy, you can either get a surgical abortion or a medical abortion. 

A surgical abortion is available in Ontario up to 24 weeks after your last period. During the procedure, your cervix will be gently opened with a medical instrument. A tube is then inserted and it gives some suction to remove the pregnancy. The procedure lasts no more than 15 minutes, and you will get either general or local anesthesia beforehand. There is no cutting or stitches. You may experience bleeding and cramping, which can last for a few weeks. Your doctor will most likely ask you to do a checkup 2-3 weeks after the abortion.

A medical abortion is available in Toronto between 9-11 weeks after your last period. Your doctor will prescribe you a pill called mifepristone and instruct you when to take it. The pill will detach the pregnancy from your uterus. You’ll then take a second pill 24-48 hours after, which will make your uterus contract so you can expel the pregnancy tissue. As you expel, you may bleed heavily and experience cramping. Your doctor will follow-up with you 1-2 weeks after to test and confirm that you are no longer pregnant.  

Both surgical and medical abortions are safe and there’s a very low chance that they will impact your ability to have children in the future. 

In Ontario, public health insurance (OHIP) covers the costs of abortion so you should not have to pay out of pocket. 

It’s important to find reputable sources of information and services if you’re considering an abortion. To learn more, you should:

If I choose to have a baby, where can I get support?

Deciding to raise a child is a big decision at any age, but it can be especially daunting if you’re young. 

You may be feeling overwhelmed thinking about how you’re going to complete high school, college or university, and how to financially support your family. There are also new skills to learn as a parent. 

Start by exploring any government benefits or programs you may be eligible for. 

Ontario Works provides money, food, shelter, child care, medical expenses and other supports to people in financial need. There are also many child-related benefits, including money for young parents pursuing education.

Your city will most likely have free prenatal programs too. For example, the City of Toronto offers several programs, including a weekly Young Parent Prenatal Program for parents in their teens or early twenties. 

Reach out to your local public health unit to find prenatal programs in your area. 

In addition to government benefits and programs, many not-for-profit organizations across the province offer support to young parents. Depending on the organization, they may offer:

  • Pregnancy and prenatal support 
  • Housing support 
  • Support to finish school 
  • Food programs 
  • Child minding 
  • Clothing and equipment 
  • Workshops on parenting, relationships, budgeting, and nutrition
  • Counselling 
  • Career guidance
  • Legal support  
  • Referrals to community resources 

These are just some of the organizations that help young parents in Ontario:

There are many more organizations that support young parents in different parts of Ontario. To find what’s available in your region, talk to your family doctor or contact your local public health unit

There are also organizations that offer general sexual health support who will be able to give you more referrals, like Planned Parenthood and Teen Health Source

If I choose to put my child up for adoption, where can I get more information?

Many young parents decide to go through with the pregnancy, but find another family to raise the baby. 

There is no one-size-fits-all process for adoption. As a pregnant person, you can choose to be as involved with the selection process as you want, and choose how much contact (if any) you want with the child in the future.

Here are some things you should know if you’re considering adoption, according to Action Canada:

  • There are no fees for a birth parent who wants to put a child up for adoption 
  • A birth parent must wait 10 days after having a baby to legally consent to an adoption
  • A birth parent has the right to withdraw their consent within 30 days after the baby is born, even if the baby has been placed with another family

If you’re considering adoption, the most accurate place to find information is your province’s government website. The Ontario government lists all licensed agencies and individuals who are approved to support private domestic and international adoptions. 

Many anti-abortion advocates try to pressure people who’ve had unplanned pregnancies into adoption. You have a right to decide what's right for you without pressure from anyone else. If you’re feeling confused and need non-judgemental support, call Action Canada at 1-888-642-2725 to go over your options.