Becoming pregnant can be a joyous time in an expectant mother’s life. For some women, however, it can also be a time of despair, guilt, and crisis. If you are an expectant mother just learning about your pregnancy, many emotions come into play and can cloud your thought process. There are many things to consider when learning about your pregnancy.
One of the first things to consider is how the baby’s father will react to the news. Fear on both the mother’s and father’s side usually comes to mind when an unexpected pregnancy is announced.
To an expectant mother, it is not just your body that is changing. Your entire life is being redirected. You may not be prepared or do not desire to become a mother at the time of finding out about your pregnancy. The mental load that is placed on your shoulders can be undeniably heavy.
Many expectant mothers believe they only have two options when it comes to a pregnancy. Those decisions include whether or not you want to keep the baby. Ultimately, this could lead to making decisions based on emotions without having enough information to guide you.
Making this kind of decision is not done lightly. If you decide to not keep the baby, then there are more decisions to be made after that, such as adoption choices. Which route do you wish to take?
Thankfully, when an expectant mother realizes the crisis she is faced within her pregnancy, she does not have to face those decisions alone.
What are my next steps in an unexpected pregnancy?
To be truthful, unexpected pregnancies happen more often than you might think. Many women find themselves in a similar situation as you. They often wonder what their next steps are in this life-changing event.
Most women learn of their pregnancy by taking a urine home pregnancy test. The test usually consists of you peeing on a stick and waiting for the results to appear in the little window. Those are probably the longest two to three minutes of your life waiting for that result to appear!
Next, you try to calculate your due date based on the last time you had a period. If this is your first pregnancy, you might not be well-versed in calculating your due date accurately. Typically, a healthcare professional will ask you when the first day of your last period occurred. Then, they will calculate 40 weeks into the future from that date to determine your due date.
Sounds easy, right? Except if your menstrual cycle is irregular, if your cycle lasts longer than 28 days, or if you simply cannot remember the last time you had a period. These things can sway the estimated due date. Therefore, an ultrasound may be needed to measure the size of the fetus to establish how far along you are.
Take the guessing out of your time line and receive the help you need by visiting a pregnancy center for information and resources to use during your pregnancy.
What is a pregnancy center?
A pregnancy center is a safe place where expectant mothers like you can go to have your pregnancy confirmed, due date calculated, and have access to resources that will guide you in the pregnancy. You will find yourself in an environment where you will be guided by professionals to help make the best possible decision for you and your baby.
Many healthcare environments encourage expectant mothers to raise their unborn child. A pregnancy center allows you to make your own decision by educating you on your options in an unexpected pregnancy.
Some pregnancy centers are affiliated with a church or spiritual group. Other pregnancy centers are privately operated by nonprofit organizations. The goal of a pregnancy center is to assist an expectant mother in making informed and healthy decisions for her and her baby.
What happens at a pregnancy center?
When it comes to unexpected pregnancies, many expectant mothers fear the judgment that can come from family, friends, acquaintances, etc. While many people believe in taking the route of raising a child, sometimes an expectant mother needs to have a nonjudgmental, unbiased person to listen to her thoughts and feelings about this unexpected pregnancy. That is what you will find at a pregnancy center.
A pregnancy center is designed to do the following:
- Confirm your pregnancy and due date;
- Provide an overview of your rights;
- Answer questions you may have about your pregnancy;
- Ensure you have the resources needed to make informed decisions about the next step in the pregnancy.
A pregnancy center is not designed to pass judgment on anyone. They are prepared to give you the support you need no matter your current life situations.
Services offered by a pregnancy center often include these:
- Urine pregnancy test;
- Ultrasound (depending on the gestational age of the fetus);
- Patient advocacy support;
- STD and STI testing;
- Educational reading material about your options;
- Resources in your area to receive proper medical care;
Information about additional needs or services that cannot be provided by a pregnancy center, such as therapy or other specialties, can be requested at the pregnancy center.
What is a pregnancy center’s confidentiality policy?
During a time of confusion, an expectant mother may fear that the information about her pregnancy could be learned by someone she knows. You may find that you don’t want anyone to know about your current situation. It is normal to feel hesitant about this information being leaked.
A pregnancy center is similar to a health clinic in that they must abide by confidentiality laws. Therefore, any information obtained by the pregnancy center about you is confidential. The pregnancy center may only share medical records with your doctor or other specialist(s) with your written consent and approval.
Where can I find a pregnancy center near me?
Finding a pregnancy center near you is as simple as searching the Internet. You won’t find many advertisements about pregnancy centers on billboards, commercials, or other ads. Therefore, your own research will be your best guide.
Additionally, you may be able to ask church organizations in your area for the location of pregnancy centers. Oftentimes, a hospital or other health clinics in your area may be able to point you in the right direction as well.
Pregnancy centers tend to keep a low profile due to the stigmatization associated with their goals and missions. By keeping their business affiliations out of the eye of the immediate public, pregnancy centers are keeping their staff, volunteers, and patients safe.
What is a pregnancy center’s cost?
Pregnancy centers offer services that are typically provided by volunteers. These volunteers range from patient advocates to licensed nurses and licensed medical professionals. Within these medical practices are also devices such as ultrasound equipment, pregnancy tests, and other supplies. Again, pregnancy centers are typically operated by a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, which allows them to be exempt from certain federal taxes.
Pregnancy centers accept donations or monetary gifts in order to continue running their organization. If a church is affiliated with a pregnancy center, those church members are given the option to have their tithing dedicated specifically to the pregnancy center.
A majority of pregnancy centers offer their services free of charge. This can be a huge weight lifted off an expectant mother’s shoulders! Along with the associated feelings and emotions surrounding an unexpected pregnancy, financial obligations also play a role in deciding what to do in the next steps of pregnancy.
Take comfort in knowing that a pregnancy center will do what they can to help you during this time of your life.
Do I need to make an appointment?
As with any other health care environment, it is best practice to make an appointment ahead of time to be seen at a pregnancy center. This helps the staff to be prepared for your arrival. Also, you’ll be seen sooner than just sitting in a waiting room, hoping for an opening. However, if you are more in favor of walking into the center instead, you won’t be turned away.
To make an appointment, locate the pregnancy center nearest to your location and call the number listed in the search. Make note of the hours of operation. Some centers run on limited hours due to their volunteer and funding resources. Inform the person taking your call of what kind of service you are looking to receive (pregnancy test, STD testing, information meeting, etc). This will help them better assist you in obtaining the correct information you seek.
At the appointment, you can expect to fill out some paperwork in regard to your medical history. Allow some time before your appointment to show up and fill out any forms needed. This information gives the staff members a better idea of the reason for your visit, what kind of precautions to take when treating you (if any), and an understanding of what you are hoping for the outcome of your visit.
It is okay to not have all the answers to their questionnaires. This will not prohibit the staff members from seeing you. However, the more information you can provide them, the better they can assist you.
Do I have to go alone?
Going to a pregnancy center alone can be intimidating. Maybe you don’t know which questions to ask. Maybe you forget to ask something that was on your mind, or maybe you just need someone to reassure you that everything will be okay. Having a friend or family member with you can help ease any discomfort you might have.
Unless otherwise posted, you most definitely can bring a friend or family member with you to your visit at a pregnancy center. The staff there will ask if you want that person with you in your exam room for your visit or if you’d rather have your friend stay in the lobby/waiting room area. The staff members will not disclose any medical information in front of your guest unless they have your approval first.
On the contrary, some women prefer to make that visit on their own. This is perfectly acceptable as well. You are in charge of how you want your visit to a pregnancy center to go.
When should I go to a pregnancy center?
If you are unable to obtain medical attention through your own health care provider or insurance, it is important to seek care at a pregnancy center as soon as you learn of your pregnancy. For all the reasons listed above, it is better to have more information sooner than later about your choices and your rights.
Ultrasound appointments are not typically performed unless an expectant mother is eight or more weeks along in her pregnancy. This is usually the practice of any health care environment as well. Still, it is best to have as much information as possible sooner rather than later.
You may receive a urine pregnancy test during your first pregnancy center visit and then will need to go back for an ultrasound if you are not eight or more weeks along.
When considering the question “What is a pregnancy center?” you can see why they are unique. You may also notice the commonality of pregnancy centers that are available. Some are church affiliates, while others are strictly nonprofit organizations.
Furthermore, their commonality is geared towards helping expectant mothers make sense of their unexpected pregnancy through free or less expensive services and educational information. The decision you make about your pregnancy will hopefully be a well-informed decision after visiting a pregnancy center.
Visiting a pregnancy center is only the first step in your pregnancy journey. Don’t forget to continue to receive care during your pregnancy and reach out to the resources provided to you during the visit. It can be a scary time in an expectant mother’s life. However, you are not alone in your feelings, your journey, and your decisions. Best of luck to you!
Samantha Flores is the mom journaling the comical chaos of motherhood on Her Journal. She is a first-time parent to an incredible little boy. Her little family (three humans + three furbabies) lives in Northern California. Life is very busy! Samantha holds her Master of Arts degree in Education. In addition, she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology. She has many years of experience working in early childhood education as well as being a regulator of foster placement facilities such as foster homes, shelters, residential centers, group homes, and foster-to-adopt homes. Samantha‘s mission is to provide helpful information to parents looking for answers to their parenting questions.