1. Am I pregnant?
Maybe you are late and wondering what it means. If you have a regular monthly menstrual cycle, the earliest and most reliable sign of pregnancy is a missed period. However, a missed or late period could be for several reasons (for example, changes in diet or stress levels).
Perhaps everything seems up close and just too much to process...
First things first — if you have been sexually active and think you might be pregnant, simply take a pregnancy test.
You may be feeling worried and confused or perhaps even a bit excited, about the possibility of being pregnant. That’s understandable. Try to get calmer before you carry on. How you feel today isn’t necessarily how you’ll feel in a day or two.
Perhaps you have a close family member or friend to talk to. However, women often want to talk with someone they can trust who is outside their immediate circle. Our trained HOPE Advocates are friendly and won’t judge you but will listen to you in confidence. Offering space to reflect, information and help to consider, if you are pregnant. Please do get in touch.
When driven by fear or panic we see everything differently. If our thoughts and emotions are all over the place we usually know this is not the right time to make a big decision. If it seems urgent, then it's extra important you give yourself time and get more facts.
We encourage you to talk this through with someone who will listen well to you but also care for you enough to help you think about the bigger picture. Try not to focus on the worst-case scenario, fear always paints a bad future. If it feels overwhelming then it's wise to take small steps.
2. How do pregnancy tests work?
Pregnancy tests are available from pharmacists and some supermarkets and other shops. They are not expensive and are easy and quick to use.
Most are reliable from the first day of your missed period (but there are some variables that lead to inaccurate readings). If you don't know when your next period is due, you should wait at least 21 days after you last had unprotected sex, or after you think you got pregnant.
If you are pregnant, your body needs time to develop detectable levels of the hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotrophin), produced around 6 days after fertilisation, interrupting your normal cycle.
You may like to have a close friend or family member with you when you find out the result of your pregnancy test. If you need someone to talk to about it, at HOPE we can be here to listen and to offer you information, advice and help. Why not get in touch for a confidential conversation.
If you are near our HOPE Pregnancy facility, then we can offer you a free and confidential pregnancy test, and talk through any concerns or questions you may have.
Whatever you do, we encourage you to stop and take a breath. Often what we think feels urgent, rarely is a ‘now or never' moment. In panic mode, our ability to think clearly about the different factors shuts down.
Perhaps it might be helpful to reflect on a major decision you've made before. How accurate were your own fears (or those of others around you) as to how things would work out? Did you give yourself space to calm down, get some more facts and think things through? If so - how thankful are you that you didn't rush into a decision?
If you get a positive test result and it feels overwhelming then it's wise to take small steps.
3. How do you count pregnancy weeks?
Pregnancy normally lasts 37 to 42 weeks, dated from the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP). So in the first 2 weeks, you are not actually pregnant; your body is preparing for ovulation ( an ovary releases an egg around day 14 of your monthly cycle). Fertilisation of the egg by sperm may occur within the next 24 hours and signifies the beginning of pregnancy.
So at 5 weeks pregnant (the time of a missed period, when you may just be wondering if you are pregnant), your baby is 3 weeks old, dated from fertilisation.
4. Why are you calling it "my baby"?
That is a good question, especially in early pregnancy. Many will say it's just tissue or a clump of cells. If you were excited by your news, however — no one close to you would talk like that.
In fact, pregnancy apps and websites will talk about you and your baby from very early on — even 4 weeks pregnant (ie 2 weeks since fertilisation). Abortion providers often describe their services as removing or ending a pregnancy. However, nothing about that baby has changed — just the language.
We want to respect both you — and your little one — by carefully using honest language with you.
Did you know that from the moment of fertilisation, your baby has their own unique DNA? Eye colour, hair colour, sex, facial features, and thousands of other characteristics are all determined — different to you.
Your baby is also biologically alive right from the start. Not in the same way your skin or muscle cells are living cells that make up parts of your body. Your baby is a whole, living, unique human being, just like you.
This can be difficult to imagine, especially in the first trimester — so small, undeveloped and dependent on you — how can they be a person yet?
However, just think of how much smaller, less developed and dependent a newborn is than a 5-year-old. This doesn’t change what it is. Both the baby and the young child are living human beings.
Embryo, fetus, newborn, infant, toddler, pre-schooler, child, teenager, adult, mid-lifer, OAP, these are all terms that tell us how old a human being is, but it’s all the same person, right from the beginning. It's good to reflect on when your own life began.
5. Will you pressure me not to have an abortion?
No. Our approach is not based on applying pressure but on genuine compassion. Whilst we give equal value and respect to both you and your baby — we cannot make a decision for you, and we never try to manipulate you. See here for our commitment of care to you. You have the freedom to act according to your own conscience in the decisions you make. (Subject to legal regulations.)
Yet, the fact is many women say they would not have chosen abortion if the help and support of something like HOPE Pregnancy had been there for them. Some of those women say they have thought about their baby every day since. What was offered as a quick fix for the immediate problem was not, for them, an easy solution in the long term.
So our compassionate approach means we want to, with gentleness, be honest with you.
It is out of concern and care for women — and their babies — in your sort of situation, that we offer to listen, give information, encouragement and help to mothers. Since our services are free, we have no financial motive when we offer you the truth.
It may be that you feel pressure to have an abortion — many women say they did even if it was unspoken. For others, it can be coercion. If this is your situation it’s important that you take the time to think things through for yourself and get more informed.
Whilst we encourage you to get in touch with us, for those that do there is no pressure from the start. Women are of course free to leave the conversation at any time. If you make it clear you wish to go, we will bring things to a gracious and prompt close. Should you wish to re-start the conversation at another time, you would of course be welcome.
6. Is there HOPE for fathers?
Men — you may be feeling a bit surprised, uncertain and nervous too. If you are unsure how you can best help your partner, we are here if you want to be better informed. Please do get in touch with us for a confidential conversation.
Our male HOPE Advocates aim to assist you in starting to talk about it, offering you information, and answering your questions. We can help you think through the responsibilities you have and the help that is available.
You may feel that you are not being allowed to have a say. That is very difficult. However, often it is unlikely your partner wants to make any decision without you being involved.
When relationships are messy or strained, it's easier to pull away from each other rather than come together. Often we make assumptions about what the other is thinking or feeling that prove not to be true.
Where possible we would encourage both parents to
- Listen to each other — do you know her thoughts and feelings about things? She may be assuming what yours are.
- Get informed — it's really important to know the facts and to reflect on how a decision might impact you all. See here for links to information about abortion and your baby's development.
- Find support — if communication is difficult perhaps someone can help you both talk it through. We offer to help find some local support.
Where can you find lasting hope? God is a Heavenly Father to all those who come to Him. He doesn't treat us as we deserve, but is full of patience, love and forgiveness.
"As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust." Psalm 103:13-14
7. Are abortion pills taken at home, safe?
Since March 2020, DIY at-home abortion has been available in England and Wales, permitting women to take both pills at home, removing the requirement for a face-to-face medical assessment. At HOPE we consider the evidence to be clear that at-home abortion, without medical supervision, is far from safe for women. Of course, abortion is never safe for the baby.
We encourage you to be more informed, find out some of the effects this policy has had on women, and come to your own conclusions:
"Abortion pills are being sent to women by abortion providers after calls as short as 30 minutes, without any face to face assessment, identity checks or ultrasound scans to see how far into the pregnancy the women are.
The abortion industry claims these new measures are "safe, ethical and effective" however the evidence suggests the total opposite.
Care for Women is a partnership of UK pro-life groups seeking to compassionately expose and detail the true impact these pills are having on women's health and society at large through stories, data gathering and discussion.
We share a deep concern, not just for the unborn babies killed by these pills, but for the women taking them, without any in-person medical supervision, often totally alone. We care for women." careforwomen.co.uk
Without an in-person assessment some of these risks for women include:
openness to abuse — how could the provider of the pills know if you are being pressured or coerced into taking them against your will?
no way of accurately determining the gestational age of the baby — error in the calculation or delay in taking pills.
It is important to know that as many as “1-in-17 women having an induced medical abortion are subsequently treated at an NHS hospital for complications..” Percuity Limited*
Alongside admissions for haemorrhage, infection or sepsis this includes incomplete abortion. If this happens to you, a surgical abortion may be required to complete the process.
According to the "Treatment" Guide of BPAS, the UK’s largest abortion provider, normal side effects of these pills include:
- uterine bleeding lasting up to 13 days. This bleeding is: “heavy, more than a period, and you may see blood clots (usually smaller than a lemon) or other tissue when you pass the pregnancy”
- 1 in 10 women will experience “common side effects” including: "cramping, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea"
According to the NHS, risks include:
- 7% of medical abortions result in baby body parts being left behind requiring surgical follow up
- serious complications such as heavy bleeding, damage to the womb, or sepsis: this happens to about 1 out of 1,000 women
Stories of women
“I have struggled to sleep, eat and function. Taken sick leave from work and everyday activities are a struggle. I am concerned for my future and have also had thoughts of suicide due to the unrelenting despair and anguish I feel. I did not have a dating scan and it all seemed very rushed to me due to the pandemic. The counselling was almost non existent and I worry about girls and women taking the pill that is currently being sent in the post. How is this helping women to make an informed choice?”
“I don’t speak for all women but I do feel it is one of the most detrimental women’s rights. To be handing out those tablets as if you are just getting rid of a headache is so sad. They are prescribed as pregnancy would have an effect on the mother's mental health! I can confirm that I had no mental health problems until I took that first tablet.”
Woman who contacted PASE (Post Abortion Support for Everyone) by email about her experience during lockdown (shared with permission)
8. What practical help do you offer?
We care about women in your situation and want to offer real help — there is hope for you and your baby for the way ahead. For many women, once they have made the decision to continue as a mother, support becomes available through their own networks. However, for others, there can be very real issues — if this is you, we are here to help.
Sometimes just talking things through with someone outside your immediate circle can help you order your thoughts. You may soon see some positives and some hope in what immediately seemed a disaster. Perhaps also some structure in what seemed just chaotic.
Offering practical help is not so easy online — but we will help you think through what support might be available to you, as well as offer you contact details for local agencies.
We treat people as people. So we have no standard package but aim to help you in identifying your individual needs and the support available to you. We aim to reassure you that although there may be challenges, you won't destroy your own future in the process of doing what is right for you and your baby.
Amongst other things this may include offering:
- Practical items (eg maternity clothing, baby items eg clothes, milk, nappies etc)
- Encouragement for you during your pregnancy and afterwards
- Help with telling others about your pregnancy if it's difficult for you (eg boyfriend/partner/parents)
- Help with your planning for the future and with managing finances
- Helping you to continue your studies or your job
- Help to find accommodation — during pregnancy and once your child is born
- Contact with other mothers in difficult pregnancy situations, as well as those who have been through this before
Our desire is to assist you in accessing all the support available to you. Bringing hope as you care for this little one that you're carrying.
9. What evidence is there about health risks associated with abortion?
We are not qualified nor do we intend to give you medical advice on the risks you may face if you have an abortion. As with all medical procedures, there are risks involved. Dr Levatino, mentions some of these in his videos that we have shared on abortion procedures here.
Many promoting abortion as healthcare would advise that it is safe with only small risks of anything going wrong (especially in early pregnancy). They would dispute that some of these complications and issues can result from abortion at all.
It is worth noting that many studies do raise significant and ongoing concerns relating to abortion and health risks for women. One good question to ask is why are such studies rarely promoted or signposted to by those who promote abortion? Rather, such studies are usually dismissed, criticised or ignored.
Additionally, those same voices are often quick to dismiss the claims and concerns of post-abortive women. Have you talked to any women you know about their experience immediately or years after an abortion?
10. Will abortion impact my mental health?
We are deeply concerned about the impact abortion has on women. However, we are not qualified or able to say that you personally would necessarily recognise any significant mental health problems. Yet, every decision in life we make has consequences. A decision to end the life of the baby you are carrying is a decision like no other and it's so final.
It seems many women often feel relief immediately after an abortion and some may not appear to experience any negative impact even in the long term. Many others find it hard to come to terms with their experience and the decision they made (often under pressure from others) some immediately, others only many years later.
When considering the possibility of real risks to mental health, we would encourage women to:
i. Reflect more generally first — will abortion change me?
- How I see myself E.g as a person, a mother — bereaved now, but possibly of future children.
- Interacting with others E.g spouse/partner/family/friends with their babies/future children etc.
- Spiritually E.g responding to God's offer of forgiveness and peace with Him.
ii. Perhaps talk with a friend or relative who has had an abortion
Do you remember anyone close to you sharing their abortion experience? Or, just look up “I regret my abortion” on Facebook and you will see thousands of women supporting each other. Her Truth shares the untold stories of women (and occasionally men) in their own words. Of course, others online will say they don't regret it.
There is evidence that abortion does have a negative effect on women’s mental health in many cases (symptoms of which may not emerge until years later). Women have linked their abortions to subsequent mental health problems, breakdowns and self-destructive behaviours.
PASE is one project dedicated to offering support to those bereaved by abortion — in Jesus Christ, there is a way of forgiveness for all of us, and recovery and hope.
iii. Consider studies linking abortion.
Those who advocate for abortion rarely refer to studies that provide evidence of elevated mental health risks as a direct or indirect result of abortion. Nor do they seem to encourage the voices of women damaged by abortion to be heard.
Generally, they will dismiss or diminish adverse psychological impacts (which may not arise until years after the procedure), often attributing them to other factors such as existing mental health issues, lack of support and other life & social issues. However, the data from some of the most comprehensive peer-reviewed studies from around the world, suggests otherwise.
One major review of 22 studies covering more than 800,000 women, concludes that the results revealed a
"..moderate to highly increased risk of mental health problems after abortion."
“Women who had undergone an abortion experienced an 81% increased risk of mental health problems, and nearly 10% of the incidence of mental health problems was shown to be attributable to abortion.”
Professor Coleman et al, Abortion and mental health: quantitative synthesis and analysis of research published 1995-2009. The British Journal of Psychiatry | Cambridge Core
Although such studies are fiercely debated, what is clear is that they highlight real concerns.
At HOPE, it is not our intention to cause any fear or alarm. We do not give an opinion on whether such studies are medically conclusive. But they have been done and the results have been published and reviewed.
So, we are not saying that if you have an abortion you personally will have mental health problems afterwards. However, we have met so many women deeply wounded by abortion, some suffering in silence for years beforehand. Keep asking questions and make up your own mind.
11. Will abortion impact - health - other?
12. Would my baby feel pain?
13. Can I finish my education?
14. How will I support myself?