Finding out that you’re pregnant can be overwhelming. If you just learned that you’re pregnant, there’s no wrong way to feel about it. It can help to acknowledge how you feel and talk to someone you trust about it and your options.
Figuring out what your next steps are can be hard. It’s important to get the information you need to make the right choices for you. Whatever you decide, know that your body is your own. You should be the person who has the final say in what happens to it.
Pregnancy and health
Some people have a strong sense that they want to give birth when they learn they’re pregnant. It’s okay to feel this way! Giving birth doesn’t always mean a commitment to raising a baby, but it’s a big decision regardless. It’s always good to find out as much as you can about pregnancy and birth before you decide.
Carrying a fetus until you give birth is calling carrying it “to term”. If a baby is born before it’s expected, this is called “preterm labour”. Most pregnancies take around 9 months.
In those 9 months, your body goes through a lot of changes. There are a few health issues that only show up during pregnancy, like gestational diabetes. It’s a good idea to have a family doctor who can give you consistent care throughout your pregnancy.
There are also things that can hurt the fetus during a pregnancy. Doctors recommend that people who want to carry a pregnancy to term avoid….
- Drinking alcohol
- Eating raw fish (like sushi)
- Hot tubs or saunas
- Certain medications
Many also recommend cutting down on caffeine. These are more reasons why it’s helpful to have access to a family doctor during pregnancy.
For more on pregnancy and health, check out the resources below, or take a look at Scarleteen’s Pregnancy & Parenting section.
Deciding whether or not to become a parent
Choosing to raise a child means taking on a huge amount of responsibility. Parenthood can be unpredictable, so it’s impossible to be completely prepared – but you can ask yourself questions to see if you’re ready to take that on.
Some things it might help to ask yourself before you decide if you want to become a parent are:
- If you’re in school, how would raising a child change your education? Would you need to change your school schedule, or transfer to a different institution? Would you need to graduate later? How do you feel about that?
- If you have a job, does it offer time off for maternity leave?
- What does your support network look like? Could you get emotional help from family? Chosen family? A partner?
- Would you feel good about involving the people close to you in raising a child? Why or why not?
Becoming a parent can be a great decision. But just like anything else, making that decision needs your own informed and enthusiastic consent! If you feel pressured into parenthood, or like you don’t have any other options, there are people you can talk to about other possibilities.
There’s nothing wrong with choosing abortion or even adoption over parenthood. There’s also nothing wrong with choosing parenthood if you feel like you’re ready and committed to raising a child. Any of those decisions can be good decisions as long as you feel like they’re right for you, and you’re able to make them yourself.
Some info about adoption
People often talk about adoption as an alternative to abortion. Some see it as the option for pregnant people who aren’t comfortable with abortion, but don’t want to be a parent. But adoption isn’t just a choice to not have an abortion or not to raise a child. Adoption is its own process, and you get to decide how it will happen.
There are five types of adoption recognized in Canada:
- A public adoption is when a parent or parents adopt a child through the Canadian child welfare system.
- A private adoption is when a parent or parents adopt a child through a private organization, like a church group.
- An international adoption is when a parent or parents adopt a child from another country. Some countries have very strict limits on these adoptions. This means they can take much longer than “domestic” adoptions within Canada.
- When someone marries a person who has children, that person may formally adopt their stepchildren in order to have the same legal protections as the original parent.
- Finally, a kinship adoption is when someone adopts a child who they’re related to, like a grandchild or younger sibling.
If you’re pregnant and considering adoption, choosing which type you’d prefer can depend on a lot of things.
- Would you be interested in having contact with your birth child in the future?
- If your birth child wants to have contact with you someday, how would you feel about that?
- Do you want your birth child to be raised in a specific kind of environment? Would you be more or less comfortable if you could choose the parents who raised them?
Just like with parenthood or abortion, it’s important for people who choose adoption to know as much as they can about what they’re choosing. If you’re pregnant, you should never be pressured or coerced into something like adoption.
What if I want an abortion?
Abortion is a safe and legal procedure for ending a pregnancy before it comes to term. Lots of people choose abortion for a variety of reasons. Having an abortion can be scary, but there’s nothing wrong with choosing abortion if that’s what’s right for you.
Having an abortion doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t have kids in the future, although it’s also fine if you just never have children! Abortion is considered a low-risk procedure, and has a very low rate of issues afterward.
If you choose to have an abortion, you can have a medical or surgical abortion. You can read our guide to different kinds of abortion to learn more about each. This guide also has more info on legal requirements and how to get a referral for an abortion.
In Montreal, abortions are covered by provincial healthcare. People with out-of-province healthcare will need to pay upfront and get reimbursed later. Anyone under 13 needs parental consent to have an abortion. For more information on abortion and where you can access it, you can call Action Canada For Sexual Health And Rights 24/7 at 1-888-642-2725.
Dealing with people’s reactions
Often, when people learn someone is pregnant, they can assume things about that person. Sometimes those judgments fall on the decisions that person makes about their pregnancy. Some people judge others for having an abortion, but there’s also stigma surrounding adoption, and around people having kids. Those stigmas can make these decisions feel scary! But pregnancy is something that happens naturally, and it doesn’t make you a bad or immoral person. Whatever decision you make, you deserve safety, information, and support.
Check the resources below for more on pregnancy, health, and options around parenthood, abortion, and adoption.
All About Abortion – Scarleteen
Scarleteen’s All About Abortion page gives details on what abortion is, how it happens, what it feels like, and how to take care of yourself after.
All about Pregnancy – Planned Parenthood
Planned Parenthood website that talks about how pregnancy happens, what to do if you think you are pregnant (how to take a test), and emergency contraception.
*Please note that in Quebec we have different laws about accessing emergency contraception without a prescription from what is on this website*
Getting Pregnant: HIV+ Man and HIV- Woman
Provides information around pregnancy in the case of a serodiscordant couple where the man is HIV-Positive and the woman is HIV- Negative.
Head & Hands Health Services
Head and Hands is a health clinic for youth ages 12-26 near the Vendome Metro station. They offer free, anonymous STD testing, even if you’re not covered by RAMQ. Head and Hands also has a lot of other services, including medical checkups, getting contraception, transitioning, and more.
They offer a walk-in clinic on most Tuesdays and Thursdays starting at 4:45pm. It’s first come first serve, so it helps to arrive early.
They recommend bringing your RAMQ card if you have it, but you can still see someone if you don’t have it.
I’m pregnant, now what? – Planned Parenthood
Planned Parenthood’s guide to pregnancy support.
- Scarleteen Adoption Info
Positive test! pregnancy options — Heart your Parts
Heart your parts describes the options available if have a positive pregnancy test. They discuss: abortion, different possibilities for adoption, and parenting alone or with others.