DO YOU REGRET GETTING MARRIED?

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An unplanned pregnancy can be stressful. The first step is to come to terms with the pregnancy and then convey the news to the father of the child.

An even bigger challenge is when the father wants you to abort the child, but you would like to keep the baby.

MIXED EMOTIONS

According to Jennifer Papers, a counselling social worker at The Family Life Centre (FAMSA), it is normal to feel disappointed when you and your partner are not agreeing on keeping the baby, especially when you are excited about the pregnancy.

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“Women may feel angry or guilty for being put in a situation where they have to make the decision to either keep the baby or to abort it,” says Jennifer.

“You might also be fearful of making the wrong decision regarding the pregnancy. For example, keeping the baby might mean straining your relationship or losing the man you love. It could also mean having to raise the child alone without him.”

You may also feel worried that one day you will need to explain to your child why their father is not in their life.

WHY HE MIGHT NOT WANT THE BABY

There are many reasons why the father of your unborn child might not want you to keep the baby. Knowing those reasons might help you make a better decision about the life of your baby, says Ann Rennie, another counsellor at FAMSA.

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- Financial reasons: Your man might be unemployed and worried about how he will take care of the child. “He might be too embarrassed as a man to ask his family to help him raise his child,” says Ann. The situation might be worse if you are both unemployed.

- Other children: He might have other children with you or from previous relationships that he is already taking care of and feels he can’t afford to raise anymore children.

- Unstable relationship: Your partner might feel your relationship is not strong enough to handle a baby. This might be because the two of you just met and are still getting to know each other or he might not see a future with you.

- Married: Dating a married man always has it’s challenges and falling pregnant is one of them. In most instances, a married man’s wife and children come first and a baby outside of his marriage might destroy his relationship with his wife.

- Not ready: Some men might not have children from previous relationships or be married, but might feel they are not ready to have children of their own. They might prefer to have children once they are married.

ABORTION

Dr Sophia Mokoka, from Pretoria, says once you have decided to terminate your pregnancy, it is best that you make an appointment with a gynaecologist to see how far along you are with your pregnancy. Once you know how far you are, you can make a clear decision regarding the pregnancy.

“The hospital or the clinic should offer patients counselling prior and after the termination according to the law, but some institutions do not comply with this law,” says Dr Mokoka.

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She says it is safer to have an abortion if you are not more than 12 weeks pregnant, but it can also be done thereafter under special circumstances. This can be done at either a public or private hospital.

The law states that women can have an abortion from the 13th week up to the 20th week of pregnancy provided there is a justifiable circumstance such as:

- The medical practitioner, after consultation with the pregnant woman, is of the opinion that the continued pregnancy would pose a risk of injury to the woman’s physical or mental health.

- There is a substantial risk that the foetus would suffer from a severe physical or mental abnormality.

- The pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.

- The continued pregnancy would significantly affect the social or economic circumstances of the woman.

- A medical practitioner, after consultation with another medical practitioner, is of the opinion that the continued pregnancy would endanger the woman’s life.

- The pregnancy would result in a severe malformation of the foetus. The law further says that the termination of a pregnancy may only be carried out by a medical practitioner, and in some cases may also be carried out by a registered midwife who has completed the prescribed training course.

Dr Mokoka warns against having an illegal abortion due to complications that may occur. “Sometimes you are given an overdose of the abortion pill in the street, causing you to have multi organ failure or bleed to death,” she warns.

ADOPTION

Abortion is not the only option you have even if that is what your partner wants. You could opt to give the child up for adoption after giving birth. Dr Mokoka says it is not an easy option. “Adoption can come with a lot of emotional strain as it is not easy to give up a baby you carried for nine months.

Also, there are not enough families in South Africa that want to take a new born baby into their homes. A child would most probably land in a shelter but many of these shelters are already full of children who can't find adoptive parents,” she says.

KEEPING YOUR BABY

If you wish to keep the child even though you are unemployed, you could register for a social grant and use the money to take care of your child. It is minimal, but it could help with some basic items you may need for the child.

According to the Department of Social Department, you can qualify for a child support grant for your child if you are a South African citizen, permanent resident or refugee. The grant can only be accessed until the child reaches the age of 18. Only the primary caregiver of the child can apply for it.