Behavioral science highlights that stigma toward pregnancy, motherhood, and weight contributes to adverse outcomes across societal domains. Behavioral sciences suggest policies to address this stigma and mitigate its negative consequences.
This study explores social norms and stigma related to unintended pregnancy, parenthood, adoption, and abortion among young women living in Birmingham, Alabama. We also examine racial differences in these perceptions.
It can be challenging to cope with the social stigma of an unexpected pregnancy. From the judgmental attitudes of family and friends to a lack of support from those who care for you, it can be overwhelming.
In particular, this applies to women of color. For instance, Black women are three times more likely than White women to pass away during pregnancy.
Stigma is a real thing, and it plays a significant role in health decision-making. In particular, the stigma surrounding unintended pregnancy and pregnancy decisions – such as childbirth, adoption or abortion – has been linked to adverse outcomes for women, including higher rates of depression and suicide. It also impedes provider innovation and can lead to the under-representation of women in the reproductive healthcare system.
Don’t Let Yourself Be Pressured
Stigma toward pregnancy and motherhood is often rooted in assumptions about women’s abilities and resources. These assumptions can harm a woman’s life, including her ability to access care and support.
Being open and truthful about your expectations, particularly if you’re expecting a child soon, is one of the most excellent strategies to combat this stigma. It can be wise to seek assistance if you struggle to handle this strain. Several facilities like abortion clinic Houston offer professional counseling for women undergoing this dilemma.
Research suggests racialized pregnancy stigma exists in all areas of life, not just the workplace and higher education (Goldstein, 2018). This means that Black women experience different stereotypes about their prenatal care, birth experience and parenting journey.
Ask for Help
Dealing with the social stigma of an unexpected pregnancy can be daunting. There are several ways to cope, including asking for help from your doctor, therapist, friends or family.
The best way to combat this is to be honest, and open about your situation. The more you let people know, the more likely you will receive assistance.
A recent study found that women who had experienced an unintended pregnancy were 1.7 times more likely to have medium/high internalized stigma than women who wanted their pregnancies. Moreover, this association was statistically significant and was most likely due to an increased likelihood of HIV-related discrimination and violence/abuse within the year preceding the survey. Regardless of your specific circumstances, it is always worth the effort to ask for the help you need. The more you do, the less likely you will experience the stress accompanying unexpected pregnancies.
Don’t Be Afraid to Talk
When unexpected pregnancy happens, it can feel like a shock to the system. It can come with various emotions, from disbelief, anger, panic, and embarrassment to excitement.
In this situation, talking with a supportive friend or family member who can help you process your feelings can be helpful. They may also have experience dealing with an unexpected pregnancy and can provide valuable advice.
A doctor or health professional can be an excellent resource for information about your options and what to expect during your pregnancy. If you want, you can also speak with a social worker or counselor to get their perspective.
While your friends and family may react differently, remember that you control your decision. It would help if you took the time to learn about your unplanned pregnancy options and make the right decision for you.