A new year and a new decade is a great time to turn the cultural tide for life, and it starts with changes in your own life. In 2020, I challenge you to cultivate habits of active compassion and empowering support for women (and men) facing unplanned pregnancy. I challenge you to work to eradicate the fear and isolation that is often overwhelming in those first moments that follow “I’m pregnant.”
Here are five ways to take the first step and make a real impact today, in five minutes or less.
Resolution: Encourage women facing unplanned pregnancy in the moments they need it most.
Your first step: Write a handwritten letter.
Maybe you don’t have time to volunteer, but you still want to speak words of love and encouragement to a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy. Handwritten letters may be more rare than they used to be, but that often makes their impact even more significant.
Take 5 minutes to write an encouraging note to a new or expectant mom. Then drop it off at your local pregnancy resource center. If inspiration strikes you, write more than one!
After that, here are three ways to get your letter in the hands of someone who needs your words of compassion. Call or email a couple pregnancy centers ahead of time to make sure they’re comfortable handing out letters to their clients, to save you driving time and gas. You could also contact a maternity home or shelter for pregnant women about mailing encouraging letters to their residents. A final option is contacting a pro-life group at a nearby university. They can give your letter to any pregnant student they come in contact with, and maybe you’ll inspire them as a group to write more!
Resolution: Provide material items to women facing unplanned pregnancies.
Your first step: Call a nearby maternity home and ask about their most needed items.
Maternity homes and pregnancy resource centers are always accepting donations for the moms they serve. Most of them are easily positioned to tell you their most needed items. Take 5 minutes to call and ask, check their website, or browse their social media pages.
For example, these institutions often receive tons of newborn and size 1 diapers, but run out quickly of larger sizes. Maybe they have an ample amount of newborn onesies, but not a lot of baby and toddler shoes or winter coats. Once you find out what their moms truly need, you’ve completed the first step! If you’re feeling ambitious, send out a text of the needed items to friends and family, or plan a shopping trip later that week.
Resolution: Provide useful services and little luxuries to pregnant women or single moms.
Your first step: Market your services on social media and other platforms.
Are you a photographer? A licensed realtor? Do you own an Etsy shop? Or is creating resumes or acing interviews one of your strengths? Many single moms and women facing unplanned pregnancies would greatly appreciate a half-hour maternity shoot, resume training, or the opportunity to work with a real estate agent at free or reduced costs. And the possibilities don’t end there! Maybe you’re a mechanic who could offer discounts for oil changes or inspections. Or a well-qualified therapist offering a couple free sessions for new moms facing the unexpected.
Whatever your specialty is, take 5 minutes to write a social media post offering your specific service for free or at a discount to pregnant women and single moms. That’s step one! After that, consider including it as a special on your website or online shop and marketing your services in coffee shops or other spaces in your community.
Resolution: Empower local pregnancy medical centers by giving your time and skills.
Your first step: Email the director of your local pregnancy resource center.
Do you have a dream of working directly with women facing unplanned pregnancies, but have no idea what that looks like or how to begin? Take 5 minutes to email the director of your local pregnancy resource center. You can research the ones in your area by googling “pregnancy resource centers near me.” This usually generates a good list. You’ll need to make sure the one you find doesn’t perform or refer for abortions. This information is usually listed somewhere on their website, or you can call and ask.
There is a variety of needs from center to center, and some of them are bound to fit your comfort level or time restraints. Maybe they need a volunteer to sort clothes and baby items in the boutique, perform general cleaning tasks once a month, or schedule appointments at the front desk for a few hours a week. With a little more training, you could even become a client advocate who works face-to-face with clients and facilitates pregnancy and parenting classes! Hours are usually extremely flexible, depending on your volunteer position.
Here’s a basic template you can use to email the center director. Add any other information you want (or don’t):
My name is [Name], and I’m very interested in volunteering at [Center Name]!
Is there a particular task you need help with or position you need filled? What are the next steps I need to take?
I look forward to hearing back from you.
Resolution: Get educated about the cultural and social issues shaping women and men’s experience of unplanned pregnancy.
Your first step: Check out some of our inspiring videos and helpful articles to get started.
Here at Voices, we run campaigns to educate our followers on the different facets of life deeply affected by unplanned pregnancy. Are you passionate about any of these?
Did you know that 67% of pregnancies prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome end in abortion? Learn how real moms have dealt with a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, despite the discouragement of their medical providers in our #notsorry video. Get the facts and numbers here. And watch Frank Stephens, international speaker and advocate with Down syndrome, describe what it’s like to grow up in a world that questions the worth of people with Down syndrome.
Pregnancy on Campus
Finding out you’re unexpectedly pregnant in college can feel like the end of the world. Watch these students describe their experience of unplanned pregnancy on campus and graduating with children. Get educated on the federal law, Title IX, that protects the rights of pregnant and parenting students. And read some surprising facts you probably didn’t know about being pregnant on campus.
Want to see how abortion and unplanned pregnancy is affecting real fathers, told in their own words? Check out Episode 6 of our docuseries: “Abortion & Fatherlessness” or watch “Unplanned Fatherhood Stories.” Get the real-life numbers and impact of fatherlessness here.
Businesses play a huge role in the #standbyher culture. Check out this article for ideas on how businesses can cultivate a pro-mom workplace, so no woman ever has to choose between her job and her child. And this piece on companies already doing it right. If we’re serious about creating a world that empowers women to embrace unexpected motherhood, it’s crucial we equip corporate culture to recognize the value of women in the workplace while also respecting and acknowledging their decisions to have children.
Together in 2020, we can all take steps to #standbyher and to create a world where no one faces unplanned pregnancy alone and all human life is valued.
Mariah Maza is the Lead Editor at Voices for the Voiceless, the nonprofit cultural movement to create a world where every person is valued and no one faces unplanned pregnancy alone. To connect with Mariah, email her at email@example.com.
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