An unintended pregnancy can be a serious shock and it can also make you feel scared, panicky, angry or hopeless – so just imagine how your partner is feeling! This is why you need to take a moment to step back, take a breath and relax: An unplanned pregnancy doesn’t have to be the end of your world. There are lots of options available to you and your partner, and it’s important to remember that you’re in this together. Crucially, she needs your support.
First, let’s look at your options:
Any pregnant woman of any age has the right to choose to keep her baby. If this is what your partner wants, you need to help create a proper support structure for her, and also help her acquire the information and resources she needs to be a good parent and help your baby thrive.
Both public and private adoption options are available in South Africa. If you and your partner decide to follow this route, it’s vital to understand that your partner will require support both during the pregnancy and after it. Some women prefer open adoptions where they will have the opportunity to know their child, while others prefer closed adoptions. Your partner’s choice should be respected and affirmed. It’s very likely that she will feel a sense of grief during and especially after the adoption process. A strong support network combined with counselling can be of great comfort to her.
In South Africa, any pregnant woman of any age has the right to a safe, legal abortion.
Once my partner has made her choice, how can I best support her?
- If she chooses the abortion option, make sure she’s 100% sure about her decision. Informed consent forms a major part of pre-abortion counselling, as the law requires that ‘non-directive’ counselling take place before the procedure is carried out.
- Help her to get quality counselling. This makes a woman aware of all her options and allows her the time to make her own decision as to how to proceed. Proper counselling should include a discussion around pregnancy options and enable her to consider the personal implications of each choice. Support her in the decision-making process. It reduces the likelihood that she will regret her decision if she is supported and empowered by her partner, without external pressure.
- Be aware of the following factors that can cause trauma after an abortion:
- The stigma associated with abortion
- Personal beliefs
- Interpersonal concerns (cultural acceptability of abortion by family or friends)
- Level of social support and any previous mental health problems
Being aware of these factors will help you counter them and be a better support to your partner. Even though it’s hard, accept her moods, whatever they may be. Be sensitive and expect frequently shifting emotions during this difficult period – you’re not there to judge. Remember, you’re in this together.
- Be there for her physically. A man’s physical presence is extremely important to a woman, especially during the weeks that follow the procedure. Comfort her whenever you can – this is not expected 24/7.
- If your partner is blaming you, it may mean that she wants to hear that you are sorry she is hurt and going through all this. She needs you to help share the burden and make her feel less alone.
- Check in with her often about how she’s feeling.
- Be affectionate, but be prepared for her not to want to be sexual.
- Take some time to read over the aftercare instructions she is given. Have pain medication on hand and perhaps a heating pad or heating patch. Help her avoid infection by not having intercourse for two weeks. If she is choosing to continue the pregnancy, you can attend prenatal visits and birthing classes with her.
Where can I take my partner for a safe abortion?
Marie Stopes centres across South Africa offer safe, legal abortions in a confidential and caring environment. You can find your nearest centre here to make an appointment. If possible, accompany your partner to the centre when she has the procedure. Your support will be invaluable to her, and it will help her to make it through this emotionally trying time.