Pregnant? I can’t be! (Oh yes you can)

So, your family’s complete – then you have a ‘little surprise’. Two mums share their advice

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I felt a bit embarrassed

Victoria Dick, 36, lives in Holybourne, Hampshire, with husband Stephen. They were stopping at four – Joshua, 9, Kitty, 7, Hamish, 4, Freddy, 2… then along came Esmé, now 5 months.

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Victoria’s advice

Think positive. Try not to worry too much about the complications a new baby may cause.

Only tell people you know will be happy for you, so you don’t have to deal with negative comments when you’re at your most vulnerable.

Accept that you may have to put some things on hold for a few years and enjoy those precious all-too-short baby years.

Accept offers of help. Maybe, like me, you find that hard but do take people up on it – the whole family will benefit.

It’s hard work but he’s a joy

Tracey Given, 40, and her husband Paul, 42, live in Tooting, south London, with their children Danny, 5, Conor, 4, Kenny, 18 months, and the latest addition to the family, 3-month-old James.

Tracey’s advice

Don’t be embarrassed by what other people think and say. It’s your baby and your life.

Involve the family. I took my boys to my first scan and let them feel the baby kicking.

Introduce a bottle early on, whether it’s formula or expressed milk, so your partner can feed the baby too. It’ll give you a break and make the transition from breast to bottle easier.

If another baby would be a worry, don’t take any risks with your contraception.

What to do if it happens to you

Toni Belfield, director of information at the fpa, formerly the Family Planning Association, answers your questions.

Q. How common are unplanned pregnancies?

A They’re not unusual as around one in three pregnancies is unplanned. But just because it’s unplanned, it doesn’t mean it’s not wanted.

Q. I’m using contraception. Surely it couldn’t happen to me?

A No method of contraception is 100% effective. For example, the combined pill is more than 99% effective if you take it properly. But it can be less effective if you forget to take it regularly or you’re taking certain antibiotics that affect how it works.

Q. Are any women at particular risk?

A Some women in their late 30s take risks as they don’t think they’re very fertile. But if you’re having regular periods you must consider yourself fertile until they stop. Your fertility returns very quickly after birth, too, and don’t think breastfeeding stops you from getting pregnant, although it makes it more unlikely. If you’ve decided your family is complete, ask for advice on the right contraception for you from your GP.

Q. What should I do if it happens to me out of the blue?

A Talk to someone you trust – your partner, a friend, or family member. Depression, shock, trauma and excitement are all normal reactions. Once you’re over the initial shock, however, you’ll probably feel clearer about what you want to do. If you decide not to have the baby, see your GP or family planning clinic as soon as you can.

Q. My family is complete. What are my options for contraception?

A It depends on you and your partner, your medical history and whether you’re still breastfeeding. Visit your GP or family planning clinic for advice. You can ask about long-acting, reversible methods, such as the contraceptive injection, contraceptive implant, the intrauterine device (or IUD – previously known as the coil), and the intrauterine system (IUS), which is similar to the IUD, except it also contains a hormone to thicken your cervical mucus and ‘plug’ your cervix.

If you’re really sure that you don’t want to have any more children, you and your partner might consider sterilisation.

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