Unexpected doesn’t have to mean unprepared
By Brittany Smith
According to the Guttmacher Institute, almost half of all U.S. pregnancies are unplanned.
Which means many women, maybe even someone you know, are wrestling with an overwhelming number of questions and emotions after they receive a positive pregnancy test.
But there are ways you can help. Especially for friends who might be feeling the pressure to abort or are unsure about where to turn for guidance.
We spoke with Victoria Robinson and Dr. Karysse Trandem to learn more. Both women counsel those facing an unplanned pregnancy on a near-daily basis. Dr. Trandem in her role as medical director for three pregnancy centers in southwest Florida, and Robinson through her role as Director of External Relations at Save the Storks.
They gave us advice on some of the best ways to talk to a friend facing an unplanned pregnancy.
Listen to Her Without Judgment
The best thing you can do for your friend is respond to her news positively. Especially since she might already be dealing with a number of unanswered questions and anxiety around what she will do. Just being a shoulder to lean on and someone who will listen without asking pressuring questions can help alleviate a number of fears.
Dr. Trandem notes that it is important to love your friend “in the exact state that they come to you. Support them in whatever emotions they are feeling and listen with a compassionate heart and understanding ear.”
Walk Through Her Choices with Her
Often, a woman facing an unexpected pregnancy feels paralyzed by lack of support. This might make abortion seem like her only option. But Dr. Trandem says it’s important to talk through the options available to your friend — parenting, adoption or abortion.
“There might be a deeper root of trauma or crisis in her life that is causing her to feel like abortion is the only choice,” she said. “Offer ways to meet the deeper need and heal the real trauma. Pray with them and tell them about the love of Jesus Christ.”
Additionally, you can find a counselor or trauma therapist who can help them work through their trauma and emotional fear.
Build Her Up
Many of the loudest voices in our culture shout that an unplanned pregnancy is too difficult and abortion is the only solution. But you can change that narrative by building your friend up.
Dr. Karysse notes that it is important to remind your friend how strong and capable she is.
“With the women I have counseled, I have found that they must first understand their value and worth before they are able to give worth to their unborn baby. Let them know that they are alive for a beautiful purpose and God has brought this baby into their lives for their good. They have a lot of time to consider the option of parenting or adoption, but abortion carries significant life-long risks for them and is not what they deserve in life.”
Support Her in Practical Ways
“It’s important to let her know you love and support her no matter what,” Robinson said. And you can do that in very practical ways. Rally your church community or friends around her and create a local support system. Don’t just say “let me know if I can help,” rather provide tangible aid. Cook her a meal, sit with her and listen, drive her to doctor’s appointments, offer to babysit (if she has other children), clean her house, help her look for housing, throw her a baby shower.
Connect Her to a Local Pregnancy Center
Pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) exist to provide support for our friends facing an unplanned pregnancy. They offer material resources like diapers and formula, as well as practical resources. Is your friend unsure of how to raise a baby? Help her sign up for the parenting classes they offer. Connect her with their counselor or client advocate to learn more about adoption. PRCs offer services tailored to meet each woman’s needs individually, such as local food pantries, education grants for single moms, childcare options and housing programs. She might be surprised to learn just how many resources are available to her and knowing you are there to walk through it with her can make all the difference.
Learn more about how you can help women facing an unplanned pregnancy here.