Telling your family and friends about an unplanned pregnancy can be very difficult. You may be tempted to put it off or not tell them at all.

It’s hard to hide the fact that you’re pregnant for too long, however. More importantly, friends and family can provide you additional support to help you through this difficult time.

It isn’t possible to make the process of telling people completely painless, but following these steps can make it easier on everyone.

1. Get Over the Initial Shock

Give yourself some time to come to terms with the fact that you are pregnant. Your initial emotions can be very strong and can change rapidly. You don’t want to feed your strong emotions into everyone else’s reactions.

It can help a lot if you can get a good night’s sleep: you’ll be better rested and the shock of finding out that you are pregnant will feel more distant.

You don’t have to wait until you are completely resolved or unafraid, though. This is still a big deal, so it’s unrealistic to expect yourself to get completely over it in a short amount of time.

2. Decide Whom You Should Tell First

It helps to tell someone you know will be supportive first. They can be a good anchor before and after you tell other people.

Of course, you don’t want the most important people in your life to be the last to know. It’s okay to tell one or two close friends first, but it’s probably a bad idea to tell all of your extended family before telling your parents or the birth father.

You also want to be sure that the people important to you don’t find out from some third party. Make sure anyone you tell understands that they are not allowed to say anything until you tell them that it’s okay.

3. Pick the Right Time and Place

It’s important to try to find the right time and place to tell someone. There may not be a good time to tell someone, but there are definitely bad times.

Try not to overshadow holidays or other events, such as birthday parties. That tends to upset people as much or more than the news itself. Don’t blurt it out over Thanksgiving dinner.

It’s good to be in a private place where you don’t have to worry about being overheard or distracted. Turn off any TVs or music so people have your full attention.

If you are concerned about your safety or are afraid that the person may try to harm you, make sure you have a safe place to go first. It may be better not to tell them in person, but over the phone or through an intermediary such as a counselor.

4. Practice What You will Say

Take a moment to think about the words you will use. Avoid slang and metaphors. Don’t say, “I got knocked up.” Instead try to be more direct: “I’m pregnant.”

Be ready to follow up with more information. If you’ve been to a doctor already, say so. You probably will be asked who the father is, so prepare an answer ahead of time.

5. Get a Feel for the Situation

When you are about to tell someone, be sensitive to how they are feeling before you tell them. Make sure that they understand you are about to have serious conversation.

You may want to change your wording depending on how apprehensive or anxious they appear. Keep in mind that while an unplanned pregnancy is not usually great news, it isn’t the worst thing that could have happened either.

6. Break the News

When you are ready, take a deep breath and tell them.

If they are upset, acknowledge what they are feeling. For example, “I know this is a shock” or “I understand you are disappointed in me.”

In many cases, family members take the news of an unplanned pregnancy better than expected. If they do take it poorly, however, don’t compromise your safety. Don’t hesitate to get help and go to a safe place if they get violent.

Helpful Tips:

  • Have a Plan – Any time you have to tell someone about a problem, it helps to be able to suggest a solution. If you are considering adoption for your baby, say so. This signals that you understand the gravity of the situation and are trying to make the best of it. You don’t have to have made any final decisions, but having an idea of what you want to do can help direct the person’s feelings toward positive action rather than excessive worry or confusion.
  • Have More Information on Hand – It can also help to have materials that you can share about the options you are considering. One of the big causes of fear and worry is a lack of knowledge about a situation. If you are thinking about adoption, for example, having information about the types of adoption and the adoption process can be comforting to the person you tell.

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