By Karen Feldscher, a mom with 30 years of writing and editing experience.
You think you’re pregnant, or that your girlfriend might be pregnant? You may be scared, angry, feel guilty. And you may not have any idea what to do. This article is written for girls, but guys, read on, because there is valuable information here for you too.
First off: make sure you really ARE pregnant.
You can get a home pregnancy test at the drugstore. If it’s positive, the next step is to see your doctor or go to a health center, to confirm the pregnancy and figure out how long you’ve been pregnant.
If you are pregnant, you’ve got some tough choices to make. The first step might be to tell a parent. As a minor, or someone not of legal age, you need for an adult to get involved. Then discuss the options: You can keep the baby, place the baby up for adoption, or have an abortion.
None of these decisions are easy when you’re a teenager. But you’re not alone. About one-third of teens become pregnant at least once by age 20. And more than 80 percent of these pregnancies are unplanned. Understanding issues around sexual health and safer sex are key.
After a 14-year decline, teen pregnancy rates in the United States rose by 3.5 percent in 2006.
Try to find someone you can trust to talk to about your pregnancy. It can be a family member, your partner, a friend, a teacher you trust, or a member of the clergy.
As you consider what to do, here are some things to think about:
• Babies are adorable and can bring lots of joy into people’s lives. But they’re also hard work. And they require a lifelong commitment of time and money.
• Teen moms are less likely to complete high school and more likely to live in poverty than other teens.
• Teen girls sometimes think if they have their babies, their boyfriends will stick by them. But this is often not the case.
- Keeping the baby. Enlist the support of your family and work on a plan to stay in school. Think about joining a support group for teen parents. And make sure you get good medical care.
- Putting the baby up for adoption. This can be a tough decision to make, so it’s good to seek advice and help. The National Adoption Information Clearinghouse is a good place to start. Giving up a baby can create long-term feelings of loss. However, for many young women, placing their child in a loving home helps them feel at peace with adoption.
- Having an abortion. Abortion is a tough decision, too. This often involves discussion and consent from a parent. It can make some young women feel confused, angry, guilty, or sad. Others feel relieved. For some, it’s out of the question because of personal or religious beliefs. Women who have abortions can experience a range of physical side effects, from very little discomfort to menstrual-like cramps. (Some states require parent permission for teen abortions. Find out which at Teen Talk at Planned Parenthood.)
Whatever you do, don’t wait too long to seek help. Talk to your parents or guardian about your options, and get them involved in your decisions. Physicians advise that getting an abortion is safest to do early in the pregnancy, and if the family decision is to keep the baby, remember that early prenatal care is important for both you and your baby.
This article has been reviewed by BodiMojo expert Dr. Karen Devaney.
Last reviewed Nov. 17, 2014.