How to Support a Pregnant Woman in Crisis
Many woman experience a crisis when they become pregnant and are unprepared socially, emotionally and economically for a child (or another child). Crisis pregnancies are most common among single women, but also happen for women who are married but are having a rocky time either in their marriage or women who are separated/ divorcing.
Here’s some advice for working with women facing this crisis:
Validate all feelings: It’s important to acknowledge the wide range of feelings: love, excitement, fear, anxiety, embarrassment, or even numbness etc.
Give her a choice about how to define and frame the problem: The context for how we frame anything is decisive. In a crisis pregnancy situation, woman can choose to define themselves (their own weakness etc) as the problem or the potential baby (the incredible responsibility, etc) as the problem. Or they can choose instead to view the circumstances (current finances, current support network, etc.) as the problem. She can choose to treat the circumstances as a set of challenges that can be addressed over time. Treating circumstances as fluid and exploring the possibilities for addressing the circumstances- knowing they do not have to be permanent- gives women freedom and options.
If she chooses to continue the pregnancy, help her make a plan and find supportive resources. Diane Greene Foster in her study found that 95% of women who had unplanned pregnancies- that they almost ended- adjust to having children and express love for their children. However, the vast majority of them are financially strapped with 1/10 on welfare. Assist her to develop her network of social support and encourage her to create an educational and career plan to help her support her child.
Erica Pelman is the Director and Founder of In Shifra's Arms, a non-profit organization providing jewish support for the pregnant woman.