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More pregnancy articles

Unplanned pregnancy

Men and unplanned pregnancy

Depending on the relationship you have with your partner, you may or may not want to share the news of your pregnancy with him. A caring, thoughtful and responsible man, however, will want to find ways to help you—and himself—deal with your pregnancy, regardless of whether it is planned or unplanned, wanted or unwanted. Your partner can greatly benefit himself—and you—by openly giving and receiving support and by recognizing and sharing his feelings with you, with your respective families, and with healthcare providers.

When men share their feelings, it helps deepen the relationship, reduce stress, and promote health for all concerned. You should know, however, that sharing feelings doesn't always go as planned. Just as you experienced a wealth of conflicting emotions, it's normal for your partner's feelings to cover a broad range—from feeling thrilled, loving, and tender to devastation and shock. He may be curious about what your child could be like, or he may believe he is totally unprepared for fatherhood. He may feel uncertain about your relationship, or he may be unsure he wants the relationship to continue. He may feel angry, trapped, or sad, believing the pregnancy will interfere with the things he believes to be important.

Men tend to find it easier to talk about their feelings if the pregnancy is expected or planned. Mutual support can enhance a couple's relationship and can foster a man's caregiving skills. On the other hand, an unplanned pregnancy can be as intensely emotional for a man as it is for his partner. Even though it is toward a woman that most of the attention is directed during pregnancy, this isn't to say that men aren't affected by the issues and decisions relating to unplanned pregnancy.

Although they are encouraged to take an active role, men may believe sharing their feelings will hurt their partner. They may feel they need to be cool and rational. Yet by appearing to take the matter lightly, they may leave their partners feeling unsupported and misunderstood.

Men may feel no emotion coming from their partner. Just as men conceal emotions, women do too. There are many reasons women do this: they may not wish to burden their partner. They may be angry with him. They may deal with stressful situations by withdrawing into themselves.

Men are afraid that if they express their feelings, they risk overly influencing their partner's decision about the pregnancy. They may think the decision of what to do about an unplanned pregnancy should be left to the woman — especially if he wishes to terminate the pregnancy.

If you've opted for abortion, your partner can best help you by helping himself first. He needs first to explore his thoughts and feelings about the abortion. If he feels guilty and you do not, he may try to make you feel as he does. It's okay for him to tell you how he feels, but he needs to know that he shouldn't expect you to feel the same way. If he is having a hard time dealing with his emotions, he may wish to talk to a friend, family member, or counselor before talking to you: if all he talks about is grief and guilt, you may well end up feeling bad. Guilt and grief are natural feelings that need to be acknowledged. Understand that your partner's guilt may actually stem from empathy and concern for you: he may think he "has it easy" while you have to undergo surgery. He may feel he should have done more to prevent the pregnancy and is now feeling accountable.

A man who feels the pregnancy is entirely his fault may feel powerless as well as guilty. If your partner believes he can do nothing or that your pregnancy is his fault, he should instead focus on what he can do to help himself and you. For instance, he should think to the future and of ways to avoid a similar situation by learning about the numerous methods of birth control available to you both. How effective are they in preventing pregnancy? How can you both share the cost? Abortion does not generally affect a woman's fertility: a woman is usually able to get pregnant right away following an abortion. It's therefore important to learn how to avoid another unplanned pregnancy.

Some men don't believe in abortion and therefore feel badly about themselves and their partner. Men should think about their beliefs around abortion. What were these beliefs in the past? Have they changed at all? Is abortion really wrong? Is it true that only "bad" people have abortions? Most couples who reflect on these questions come to similar conclusions: they would feel worse about having an unwanted child for whom they don't feel love and for whom they aren't financially or emotionally prepared to care than they would about abortion. Similarly, if continuing the pregnancy would jeopardize either the baby's or the mother's physical or emotional health, abortion may be a better choice.

Although your partner's wishes are important, ultimately the choice to continue or to terminate a pregnancy is up to you. What's more, in Canada, a man cannot stop a woman from having an abortion. In 1989, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled (in the case of Chantal Daigle) that a woman's choice to terminate her pregnancy cannot be legally challenged by the biological father.

Unplanned pregnancy



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