Maybe you've been on the Pill since you were 16. Or perhaps you're someone who always keeps a condom in your purse—just in case. Whatever your contraceptive of choice, you're confident that using it means you won't be sporting a baby bump in the near future. And, to a certain extent, you should be able to breathe easy: Modern birth control is extremely effective. But nothing works 100 percent of the time, and slipups occur more often than you might think. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a whopping 49 percent of all pregnancies in the United States are unintentional—and not everyone who finds herself unexpectedly knocked up was snoozing through sex-ed class. In fact, half of all women who accidentally get pregnant were using some type of birth control.
So what's going wrong? A lot of it comes down to user error, such as neglecting to take an oral contraceptive every day. "Life is busy and complicated for most people, and sometimes having to think about one more thing is too much," says Katharine O'Connell White, M.D., division chief of general obstetrics and gynecology at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, MA.
Of course, taking care of an un-anticipated addition to your family is no easy feat either. Here's what went wrong for five readers, plus strategies for getting it right.