NOW WHAT?

An unplanned pregnancy can be a big shock for anyone. As a teen it can be totally overwhelming. Although it’s a difficult time, you can get through it, many teens been here too, and you’ll get through it just like they have.

You might be worried about what you’re going to do about the pregnancy, but the very first thing you should do is see a healthcare provider to confirm the pregnancy and to talk about your options.

DECISIONS

The decision about what to do about an unplanned pregnancy can be hard no matter who you are, how old you are or what your circumstances may be.  You will need to make a decision as soon as possible, but thinking it through carefully is important. One of the best ways to do this is to sit down and answer some really important questions, like:

  • What are my goals (short-term and long-term)?
  • How would having and raising a child affect my goals?
  • What will I do about finishing school? Am I willing to put it off to raise a child? Are there programs in Spokane where I can still go to school and raise a child?
  • How will I or my partner and I financially support myself and a child?
  • How much support will the baby’s father give us?
  • What kind of support systems do I have- from parents, family, and friends?
  • Is this really the right time for me to be a parent?
  • How will it effect my time with friends and family?

None of these are easy questions to answer and none of them should be answered until you really feel you know honestly and truly your responses. Once you do, you can start looking at your options and go through the decision making process.

YOUR OPTIONS

RAISING THE BABY YOURSELF

Being a parent can be a wonderful, worthwhile experience. But, being a teen parent is very difficult. Research closely links teen pregnancy to many negative outcomes for mom, dad, and baby.

  • Teen mothers are more likely to drop out of school, remain unmarried, and live in poverty.
  • Their children are more likely to grow up poor, experience abuse and neglect, become teen parents themselves, and sons of teen mothers are more likely to be incarcerated at some point in their life.

Being a teen parent causes a teen to make a lot of sacrifices, and it’s not always fun and it’s definitely not easy.  If you’ve decided to keep the baby and raise it yourself, you need to go to the doctor for an initial prenatal visit.

You should also make sure you’re taking good care of your health- if you’re a smoker, quit! If you use alcohol or drugs, stop! If you don’t have a healthy diet, start making conscious decisions to eat more nutritiously and make sure you’re getting enough of some essential nutrients, like folic acid (which decreases the chance of having a baby with serious brain or spinal cord defects).

ADOPTION

Many people, not just teenagers, choose adoption. Carrying your baby to term, delivering it and officially giving the baby to adoptive parents are the basic steps in adoption.

Some adoptions are open, which means you can choose the parents.  Others are closed, which means someone else, like an adoption agency, chooses the adoptive parents and you have no further contact with the parents or the child. Adoption is not an easy choice to make.  Some mothers feel satisfied their baby is going to a good, loving home. Others may know their children are going to good homes, but feel a deep sense of loss.


ABORTION

Ending a pregnancy is not an easy decision and while it may not be the right decision for some, it can be for others. Ending the pregnancy might be an emotionally difficult decision.  If it’s an option you might be considering, you should try to sort out your feelings about it as soon as possible. (Most abortions occur by 12 weeks into the pregnancy, unless there are unusual circumstances.)

As far as your physical health is concerned, as long as you seek abortion services from a licensed healthcare provider, the procedure is usually very safe. In Washington State, you may get an abortion without needing the consent of your parents. For information about abortion services you can confidentially access without your parents’ consent, visit the minor’s legal rights to confidential health care.

HOW DO YOU DECIDE?

None of the options are easy solutions. Regardless of what option you’re considering, you need to remember that this is your decision to make, though some people find it helpful to talk it through with someone else.  It may seem scary, but talking to a parent or guardian may be helpful when you’re dealing with such a major, lifelong decision. If this isn’t an option for you, seek out a trusted friend or other adult (like a relative, teacher, school counselor or healthcare provider) to provide support, to listen and to help you sort through your feelings and concerns without pressuring you in any way. If you can’t find someone around you that you can trust or you just need more information or help before making a decision, try one of the following resources:

Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and Northern Idaho – 1.866.904.7721
Family planning counseling and birth control, on-site pharmacy, emergency contraception, pregnancy testing and options counseling, gynecologic care (annual exams, pelvic exams), cervical cancer screening and follow-up services, STI (sexually transmitted infection) testing and treatment, HIV testing and treatment, men’s reproductive medical exams, safer sex counseling, vasectomy, and referrals for specialized care.

Open Adoption Services – 509.328.6274
Infant & young child placement, closed confidential adoption, attachment therapy, home studies and general adoption counseling.

iChoice Sexual Wellness and Pregnancy Resource Center – 509.327.0701
STD testing and treatment, pelvic exams (no contraceptives or family planning), post abortion care and counseling, pregnancy testing, first trimester ultrasound and prenatal care, and parenting classes.

C.A.P.A. (Childbirth and Parenting Assistance) – 509.325.7667
Single parent counseling (pregnancy & post-partum), doula mentor project, childbirth education/preparation classes, volunteer labor coaches, “Bringing Up Baby” parenting education, infant massage, playgroups, clothing bank, emergency diapers, the Annual Birthmother’s Mass and Luncheon, and referrals as needed.



Comments