Surprise Pregnancy: 4 Things to Do When You Weren’t Planning for a Baby

Two pink lines on a pregnancy test can create a major shift in your marriage. And if the pregnancy is an unexpected surprise, it can create a little chaos for you both.

Maybe you and your spouse are newlyweds, and you’ve decided that you want to enjoy a few years together–settling into your careers, enjoying your first home, cultivating intimacy–before having a baby. Or maybe you’ve already had children and weren’t planning to have more. But now you’ve learned that you’re going to have a new baby…and it’s a complete shock.

While having a baby is a wonderful thing (and always a blessing), a surprise pregnancy can create some challenging emotions for you and your spouse. Luckily, there are several ways you can help one another build anticipation and adapt to the changes you’re about to experience.

1. Be honest about how you’re feeling

It’s okay to process your feelings about this unexpected surprise. You and your spouse may be feeling a wide range of emotions, from elation and excitement to even disappointment and fear. Allow yourselves to feel the full range of emotions, and be honest about what you’re feeling.

Be cautious as you process and discuss any negative or difficult emotions that may surface. When it comes to a major, unexpected life change like this, emotions tend to run high for both parties, so be gentle if you need to express sadness or disappointment. Don’t dwell on the bad feelings, though; choose together to stay focused on the positives as you move forward.

2. Talk about the impact a baby will have on your marriage

When a couples goes from being “husband and wife” to “mom and dad,” the dynamic between them changes. But even though children require a tremendous amount of care, energy, and attention, that doesn’t mean your marriage has to go on the backburner.

Start communicating now about how having a baby will affect your relationship and your current dynamic. You can also talk with married friends or your mentor couple about how they maintained a strong relationship after having their children. Then, begin planning simple strategies to stay connected after baby arrives.

Brainstorm date night possibilities that would be close to home and easy for you to pull off during your baby’s first months. You could even talk with a trusted family member or friend ahead of time about date-night childcare. The key to staying connected is setting your intentions, then taking the steps to make them happen.

3. Start planning to welcome your baby

Nothing builds anticipation for a new baby like planning together to welcome him or her. A few activities you and your spouse could share include:

  • Going to ultrasound appointments together
  • Shopping and registering for baby items
  • Brainstorming baby names
  • Decorating baby’s room
  • Going to childbirth classes together

Making preparations for your new baby will spark excitement and joy between you and your spouse as the due date approaches (and trust us, time goes by so quickly!). You’ll have the chance to overcome early apprehension and begin integrating this little soul into your family before he or she is even born.

4. Remember you’re in this together

The emotional upheaval of unexpected news–no matter what it is–can create a rift in your marriage. If you’ve found yourselves drifting apart since you got the news, remember you’re on the same team. Life doesn’t always work out as planned, but a baby will bless and enrich your life–and this baby needs you to hold tightly to one another.

If you and your spouse need additional emotional support, consider confiding in trusted friends, seeking a support group, or finding a professional counselor who can give you tools to adjust to this new phase of life you’re about to enter.

Adjusting to the shock of this news might be difficult for one or both of you, but you’ll be okay. Don’t allow resentment to set in; instead, resolve to stay close and hang on for the ride. Life is unpredictable, but that’s part of its beauty.

Did you and your spouse have a surprise baby? How did you respond to the news? Let us know your stories in the comments section!


  • AC says:

    We had a surprise baby when I was 43! I was very upset initially and kept the news to myself for a few days before sharing the news with my husband. I told him on Christmas Eve through my tears thinking that he’d be upset too, but his reaction was very surprised but so joyful.

    Our surprise baby is now two and his older brothers adore him. We couldn’t have planned this…totally a God thing because our surprise has been the best gift.

  • Dan says:

    I laugh at myself now, but when we got our surprise at the age of 42 I was shocked. We had significant fertility issues and I naively thought we could only have a baby when my wife had a series of Dr.’s appointments! I spent an entire night staring at a blank wall! I had grad school, career expansion goals and other plans! But our girl is a blessing to us and to others. All those other things happened later; but she happened at just the right time. What a delight.

    P.S. It’s a lot more physically challenging to keep up with the sleep patterns and demands of an infant in your 40’s than it is in your 30’s! We had to strategize!

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