New life is beautiful. Just look at our love for baby memes, or how quickly our culture will make a baby video go viral. We love babies, and we love to hear news about women expecting babies.
But for nearly half of the women in the United States, their pregnancies were an unexpected shock. Instead of feeling excited about their pregnancy news, they are weighed down by many practical concerns from how people will react to their pregnancy to deciding if they should continue their pregnancy.
What if your friend is the one who’s reeling because she is unexpectedly pregnant? The good news is you have an opportunity to be a source of encouragement and support.
Caring Network has been providing support and services for women facing unexpected pregnancy for almost 40 years. Our caring staff provides compassionate, nonjudgmental care in six pregnancy centers located throughout DuPage County. If you’d like to learn more about our work and how you can get involved, contact us today!
Here are 5 ways you can be a support system for a friend who is unexpectedly pregnant.
1. Respond positively.
Your friend may be sharing the news of her unexpected pregnancy repeatedly over the course of the next several days. Imagine being in her shoes and how difficult it would be to repeatedly hear negative feedback when she already has so many unanswered questions.
She may have spent plenty of time feeding herself negative self-talk over being unexpectedly pregnant. Undoubtedly, she is feeling anxious as question after question invades her mind about her future.
These are common thoughts and fears women have when they discover they are pregnant unexpectedly:
- How did this happen?
- How am I going to tell _______? (partner, parents, friends, etc.)
- What am I going to do?
- How am I going to finish school or excel in my career?
- How can I afford a child?
- How can I possibly care for another child?
It’s important not to create more anxiety for your friend by appearing disappointed or judgmental. She may be experiencing that from herself or others in her life. It also wouldn’t be the time for pressuring questions about how she plans to move forward.
Responding positively to your friend’s unexpected pregnancy includes calmly reassuring your friend. Tell her she’s going to be ok, and you will be there for her. She also needs you to listen well.
2. Listen well.
A woman experiences a vast array of emotions and concerns when she is unexpectedly pregnant, and they can vary from one day to the next. For that reason, it’s important not to make assumptions about how she is feeling about the pregnancy.
Although your friend may appear confused, she doesn’t need you to make decisions for her. She needs a thoughtful listener who knows how to ask good questions that will help her see her strengths and capabilities.
Ways to be a safe person who listens well:
- Listen without judgment. It is possible to disagree without judging the other person.
- Listen to understand rather than to respond or fix her problem.
- Ask clarifying questions. (i.e., “Am I hearing you right that you’re worried you won’t be able to find affordable childcare?”)
- It’s ok to offer suggestions after you’ve demonstrated you’ve listened well.
- Convey your confidence in her capabilities, resourcefulness, and decision-making skills.
3. Encourage her.
Our culture often sends messages that an unexpected pregnancy is too difficult or inconvenient to continue. Society celebrates abortion as a strength. These attitudes can cause your friend to feel fear or shame for choosing to continue her pregnancy.
Pray for her (and with her if she would find that encouraging). Speak loving and life-giving words over her often.
4. Support her in practical ways.
Instead of saying, “Let me know if you need anything,” offer to help your friend with specific things like rides to doctor appointments, caring for other children, etc.
It’s good to rally a community around her by encouraging others to join you in creating a support system for your friend. There are lots of creative ways to gather support such as organizing a baby shower or setting up meal giving through a website like Mealtrain. Practical areas of support go a long way in communicating your care.
5. Help her find community resources.
Women can feel helpless as they wonder how it’s even possible to continue an unexpected pregnancy. You can be a great support by pointing her to a local pregnancy resource center where she can receive life-affirming care and access to local community resources.
In addition to pregnancy resource centers, you can help your friend research other community resources to help her navigate her unplanned pregnancy.
Together, you can Google topics such as:
- How to file for child support (necessary for government assistance)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Local food pantries
- Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Diversion Cash Assistance (DCA)
- Education grants for single mothers
- HUD Subsidized Housing Programs
- Faith-based transitional housing programs for single mothers
- Local “Earn While You Learn” programs
- Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program (CCAMPISP)
- Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP)
As you can see, women who are unexpectedly pregnant have distinct concerns and needs. We hope that every woman who experiences an unexpected pregnancy would have committed friends: friends who rally around her, build her up, and be the support system she needs.
Caring Network is the first step for women facing an unplanned pregnancy. We welcome women with unconditional love, counsel, and resources that offer the light of truth—changing hearts and saving lives. In almost four decades, Caring Network has been used by God to save many thousands of lives! Check out our volunteer opportunities and become part of the Caring Network difference!