What are my options if I have an unplanned pregnancy?
If you are pregnant you have 3 options:
- Continue with the pregnancy and become a parent
- Continue with the pregnancy and arrange a plan for adoption
- Terminate (end) the pregnancy (abortion)
It might be helpful to begin by asking yourself the following questions:
- Are you ready to become a parent? Do you think that you are emotionally ready? Are you in good health?
- How will becoming a parent affect your ability to finish highschool or college?
- Can you reach your school and career goals while raising a child?
- Can you support a child? Do you have a job, health benefits, and a stable place to live?
- What are your beliefs (and your family’s beliefs) about having a child?
- What are your (and your family’s) beliefs about having an abortion?
- Will you have the help and support of your parent(s) or guardian(s), siblings, and friends?
- Do you have housing? Can you live at home, or do you need shelter?
- Will your partner be involved? How much? Will he be able to help support you and your baby?
- Would you be able to handle all the responsibilities as a single parent?
How do I make a decision that I can live with?
It’s important to talk with a trusted adult and make a decision as early as possible. You may know right away what you want to do, or you may need time to figure it out. Often the decision comes from within. Although difficult, and often stressful, the final decision is up to you.
If you’ve decided to continue your pregnancy it’s very important to make healthy choices.
- Make an appointment with your health care provider (HCP) and begin prenatal care early.
- Make sure you don’t drink alcohol or take drugs. If you smoke, quit right away.
- Talk with your HCP about what medications are safe to take during your pregnancy. Be honest and tell your HCP if you have used or abused drugs in the past or present. Be sure to tell your HCP about ANY medication you take – including herbs or over-the-counter medicine. Certain drugs can cause birth defects.
- Take the prenatal vitamins that your HCP has prescribed.
- Talk to your guidance counselor at school about your pregnancy, and find out about ways you can attend classes and finish your education. Many schools have special programs for teen parents.
- Eat nutritious food. Teens need extra calories. Your body is still growing so while you are pregnant, you’ll need more calories from nutritious food to keep you and your baby strong and healthy. Your baby depends on you for food and water. Ask your HCP if you can meet with a nutritionist (a person who is trained to give advice on how to eat healthy).
- Stay active and keep moving. Don’t be a couch potato. Unless your HCP has told you otherwise, you can participate in activities such as walking, running, swimming, dancing, etc. Exercise will keep your body strong and flexible, but avoid risky physical activities such as contact sports, downhill skiing, and amusement park rides.
- Drink plenty of fluids – (3-4 cups of milk or calcium fortified soy beverage, plus water, herbal tea, or other nonalcoholic drinks).
- Brush your teeth after meals and take care of your gums every day.
- Rest whenever you can. Pregnancy takes a lot of energy! There will be times when you feel tired. Resting will help.
- Keep a diary or blog of your pregnancy; reflect on your thoughts and feelings.
- Stay away from chemicals that could be harmful to you or your baby, such as certain strong cleaning products, paint, hair dyes, and chemicals that straighten or perm hair. It’s a good idea to think about a low-maintenance hair style during your pregnancy that doesn’t involve the use of hair chemicals.
- Learn the early signs of labor so you know what to do.
- Take a parenting class. Ask your HCP about teen parenting classes. You may want to check your school or local YWCA or YMCA for classes. Being proactive and learning about how to care for your baby before it is born will help you feel more in control and confident about your ability to be a good parent.
- Find out about resources such as WIC (Women, Infants and Children Programs, Healthy Start) options for completing your high school or college degree, childcare, and other resources.
- Stay positive. You’ll need to surround yourself with people who love and care about you. You’re going to need help during your pregnancy and when your baby is born. Aim to limit your stress so you can be healthy mentally as well as physically.