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People become pregnant at many different ages and stages of life. Everyone is different, faces different circumstances and wants different things.What to do next may or may not be an easy decision for you. Below you’ll find information on your three options: abortion, adoption and parenting.
The information is intended for people who are pregnant. But, it can also be helpful to understand if your partner is pregnant.
None of the three options is better than the other. Every person needs to make the decision that is right for them. If you have mixed feelings about being pregnant and about the choices available to you, making a decision can feel difficult. It is helpful to know your feelings, to name them and to examine them. You may find it helpful to think about how the idea of having an abortion, arranging for an adoption or becoming a parent makes you feel and why.
Many people continue to have conflicting feelings about each choice. You may find that whatever decision you make, it won’t feel like the perfect decision. It is natural to continue to have some mixed feelings. If you can’t decide, you may need to get more information about your choices or talk with someone you trust – not to decide for you, but to help you decide what you think will be best for you.
Are you less than 7 days pregnant?
If you do not want to be pregnant and you have had unprotected sex or your method of contraception failed in the last 5-7 days, you can use emergency contraception (EC) to prevent pregnancy. Emergency Contraceptive Pills (ECP) can be used up to 5 days after having unprotected sex. An intrauterine device (IUD) can also be used as emergency contraceptive up to 7 days after unprotected sex.
An abortion is the ending of a pregnancy. In a spontaneous abortion, commonly called a miscarriage, the embryo or fetus is spontaneously expelled from the uterus with no outside intervention, usually because a pregnancy was not viable. In a therapeutic abortion, the embryo is removed or expelled from the uterus with the help of a health service provider. There are two types of therapeutic abortion: surgical abortion and medical abortion. Both are really safe procedures with exceptionally low rates of complications and are not known to affect future pregnancies.
Medical abortion is not widely available in Canada at the moment but is offered in some clinics and hospitals. Medical abortion uses medication rather than surgery to end a pregnancy. It can only be used early in a pregnancy – up to seven weeks from the first day of your last menstrual period.
Surgical abortions is the most common abortion procedure performed in Canada and is done by a doctor in either a clinic or a hospital. Surgical abortion, also called manual vacuum aspiration, involves dilating the cervix (the opening to the uterus) and gently removing the embryo or fetus and placental tissue from the uterus. The actual procedure takes approximately 5 -10 minutes to perform. Abortions performed in clinics use a local anesthetic (only the cervix is frozen) as well as conscious sedation which is a combination of medicines to help you relax (a sedative) and to block pain (an anesthetic) during the procedure. Most hospital abortions use general anesthetics (the patient is asleep for the procedure).
Abortion is legal and safe in Canada. An abortion should be done as early as possible. Most abortions are performed during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. While there are no legal limits to when an abortion can be performed in Canada, some providers do not perform abortions passed a certain gestational age (point in pregnancy). To find a provider near you, contact the Action Canada Access Line (click link to call from a mobile phone).
If you choose to continue your pregnancy and arrange for an adoption, there are several types of adoption to choose from. Adoption procedures vary from province to province. Below is some general information about four possible options. For more information about adoption in your province, contact your local Action Canada associate organization, Family and Children’s Services or Child protection agency or visit the Adoption Council of Canada.
Public adoptions are arranged through public or government agencies such as a child protection agency (i.e. the Children’s Aid Society) or Social, Family and Child Services Departments. The services provided by these organizations are confidential and free.
Private adoption is any adoption that is not arranged by a public agency. Provincial ministries have established specific guidelines and requirements for private adoptions and give final approval to all private adoptions. Private adoptions include fees established by the private adoption agency that are paid for by the adoptive parents.
Open vs. Closed Adoption
Adoptions may be open, closed, or somewhere in between. Deciding to have an open or closed adoption is a personal choice that depends on the comfort levels of the birth parent(s) and adoptive parent(s).
An open adoption is when the adoptive parent(s) and the birth parent(s) know each other and exchange information about themselves. Just how much information they exchange depends on a number of factors, but mostly it has to do with how comfortable they are with one another.
With an open adoption, the birth parent(s) may choose how involved they wish to be in the child’s life. Some examples include meeting the adoptive parent(s), having an ongoing relationship with the adoptive parents and the child, giving letters or photos or receiving photos of the child as they grow-up.
No information about the adoptive or birth parents is exchanged in a closed adoption. It is unlikely that the birth parent(s) and the adoptive parent(s) meet. The birth parent(s) may ask that they receive no further information once the child has been placed.
If you are pregnant and have chosen to become a parent, it is important to receive prenatal care to help make sure that you have a healthy pregnancy. You may also want to find an obstetrician or a midwife, prepare yourself for childbirth, and decide whether you want a doula. Prenatal classes provide information about how to take care of yourself and your baby while you are pregnant. These classes often include topics such as nutrition, childbirth, breastfeeding, and caring for your baby. Learn more about prenatal care.
Parenting is an incredibly important job that has its rewards as well as its challenges. Being open to new ideas and finding information helps people make important decisions related to how they wish to parent and what works best for them and their children. There are many resources about parenting available online or in your community that can be important sources of support and information. Parenting requires patience, love and energy, and can be frustrating and tiring. You need to make sure that you are taking care of yourself as well as taking care of your child. Parents are not expected to be perfect and learning the ropes comes with many learning opportunities.
Having a child brings new responsibilities. It is important to explore various options related to having a child. Some things you may want to look into include whether you’re eligible for maternity leave coverage, whether your partner is eligible for parental leave coverage, child care options, your support system (family, friends, parenting support groups etc.), government programs and bursaries.
Can I do it alone?
If you are parenting without a partner, you may find this to be challenging but also very exciting. Finding and using as much support as possible can relieve some of the pressures of being a sole support parent (commonly referred to as single parenting). You can ask family and friends for emotional support, as well as support with child care, grocery shopping etc. One of the many benefits of sole support parenting is that you do not have to compromise any of your beliefs and can raise the child however you would like to and however works best for you.
How do we parent together?
If you are parenting with a partner, you will want to understand each other’s expectations. You may want to consider family or couple counseling if you are having a hard time adjusting to a new baby, or even before the baby is born. Parenting can bring great joy to couples. But can also strain the relationship. It is important to take care of the relationship by spending time together, talking to each other, and relaxing together. You may also find the information about sex during and after pregnancy useful.
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