Teenage Pregnancy

How to tell if you're pregnant?

Symptoms of Pregnancy:

You may be pregnant if you have had sexual intercourse and you have symptoms of pregnancy:

A missed period -- (if your periods are usually regular).

A short, scant period.

Breasts that are sore, tender or swollen.

You feel sick to your stomach, or you are vomiting.

Fatigue -- feeling more tired than usual.

You need to urinate more often than usual.

Mood swings

These symptoms most often don't occur until you have missed your period for about 2 weeks, but this varies from woman to woman, symptoms can occur earlier for some women (sometimes a week after a missed period). I was queasy about a week after conception. (Amy, RN)

Remember, the onset and degree of pregnancy symptoms will vary from woman to woman and from pregnancy to pregnancy. Many women experience them within a week of conception, others take a few weeks.

If you have missed your period, but have not yet taken a pregnancy test, don't assume you're pregnant. Continue to use contraception if you have intercourse and don't want to be pregnant. Remember that the length of your menstrual cycle can vary. There can be major changes in your cycle when you're under a great deal of stress.

Before you proceed to get extremely worried, see if you have any of the signs of pregnancy. Signs of pregnancy usually occur one to two weeks after conception, although the they will vary from woman to woman and pregnancy to pregnancy.

If you have any or all of these symptoms, go right away to your health care provider or family planning clinic and ask for a pregnancy test! If you don't want to go to a clinic yet, buy a home pregnancy test at any pharmacy. (These can be expensive), but this is an important test.

READ the directions carefully before you use it and follow them.

For more on pregnancy signs and symptoms, go there....

Teenage Pregnancy Facts in the United States:

The United States has the highest teenage pregnancy rate of all developed countries.

About 1 million teenagers become pregnant each year; 95% of those pregnancies are unintended, and almost one third end in abortion.

Public costs from teenage childbearing totaled $120 billion from 1985 -- 1990; $48 billion could have been saved if each birth had been postponed until the mother was at least 20 years old.

Birth rates during 1991 -- 1996 declined for teenagers in all racial and ethnic groups.

Birth rates among teenagers vary substantially from state to state; some states have rates almost three times higher than those of the states with the lowest rates.

13 community partnerships in 11 states are implementing comprehensive, integrated youth programs to prevent teenage pregnancies and related problems.

8 non-governmental organizations are supported to assist states to develop and implement strategies to prevent pregnancy among teenagers.

Statistics from the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - CDC's Reproductive Health Information Source

Pregnancy Counseling & How A Counselor Can Help

talkingDeciding what to do about an unplanned pregnancy can be difficult. Professional pregnancy counselors are sometimes called "option counselors." Option counselors can help women and girls with this decision. Option counselors help people decide for themselves. They do not make the decision. Nor do they try to convince anyone that one choice is better than another.

These counselors have accurate information about all pregnancy options -- having the baby, adoption, foster care and abortion. Teens do not need their parents' permission to talk with an options counselor. If a teen wants to include her parents or partner in her decision, the options counselor can help. If you can tell your parents it is often helpful. Many parents will be upset at first, but they will find out eventually most of the time. It is better not to try to hide the fact that you are pregnant, regardless of your decision on what to do about it.

Remember, family planning clinics have professional options counselors. Planned Parenthood's number is: 1-800-230-PLAN, they will be able to tell you where you can get a confidential test in your area of the U.S. Visit them at: www.plannedparenthood.org

Another recommended counseling organization is: America's Pregnancy Helpline - 1-888-4-OPTIONS - they provide counseling and information regarding pregnancy options.

See the hotline page for more phone numbers for adoption, abortion or to talk to a counselor. There are also more resources at the bottom of this page.

See Abortion Laws by State, so you know your options. They are subject to change as you probably know from the recent press about South Dakota's ban on abortions.

Read about Plan B also known as emergency contraception. Have the information now, even if you are not concerned that you are pregnant.

Check out Plan B - FDA Approved.

PREGNANCY TEST -- How Soon After Sex?

preg testHome pregnancy tests are sensitive enough that they can detect a pregnancy as early as one week after fertilization. Update, June 2006, many home pregnancy kits are now more reliable and may be accurate as early as several days after a missed period. (If you usually have a regular cycle).

Home pregnancy tests are most accurate about 27 days after conception. This is when a menstrual period is 10 -12 days late, although some tests do say they can be used as early as 2 days after a missed period. * Update: Some of the new pregnancy tests say you can use them one day after a missed period. If your cycle is not regular, wait another day to use it. (Or you might be wasting your money).

Collect a good urine specimen. If the directions call for the use of a container, use a new or clean one. A washed-out bottle may interfere with the results. Most tests today provide a small disposable cup for you to use or you pee directly onto them. Perform the test in the morning when urine is the most concentrated. BUT, you can use them at any time of the day. (Refrain from the use of aspirin or marijuana the day before and the day of the test).

Results can be one of two things:
Positive. Almost always means pregnant.
False positives (says pregnant when not) are very rare. Things that cause a false positive include marijuana, aspirin, hormones, birth control pills, methadone, tranquilizers, and soap or protein in urine.
Negative. Usually means not pregnant. False negatives (says not pregnant when pregnant) are fairly common. This happens if it is too early in the pregnancy to make the results of the home test accurate. If you suspect you are pregnant even though a home pregnancy test is negative, you should have a pelvic exam by a GYN health care provider and blood test or repeat the urine test in a couple days.

Remember, you can be pregnant and have no symptoms at all, except missing you period. If you have had sex without using birth control and are worried you might be pregnant, talk with a health care provider or with a counselor at your clinic.

How The Test Works (FYI)

There are many hormones in a woman's body. One hormone called HCG, (human gonadotropic hormone) is in her body ONLY when she is pregnant. Urine pregnancy tests are designed to react with this hormone (HCG), which is secreted into a pregnant woman's blood and urine by the developing placenta.

2006 Update: Read more about pregnancy tests.

Pelvic Exam

The pelvic exam is another part of a pregnancy test. By checking the size of the uterus a health care provider can tell how many weeks the woman has been pregnant. Some clinics may even use an ultrasound machine on the outside of your belly to determine how many weeks pregnant you are. It is not painful and very accurate.

Blood Test
The blood test for pregnancy can be done one day after a missed or abnormal period. (Actually some even soon after conception). Today blood tests are rarely used because urine tests are accurate and inexpensive.

Pregnancy Options

What Can A Young Woman Do When She Finds Out She's Pregnant?

1. Have the baby and take care of it.
2. Have the baby and place the baby up for adoption
3. Have the baby and have a foster parent care for it for a short time.
4. Have the baby & live with her parents.
5. Have an abortion.

1 & 4) These can mean a big change in a girl's life. Having a baby can be wonderful. But it is also hard work and costs a lot of money. The support of the child's father, and parents helps, but she may have to do this alone. Is this something you are prepared to do? A teenage girl should think about what she wants to do in the next few years and how she can accomplish these goals if she has a baby now. She might want to finish school, get a job, or get her own place to live before she thinks of being a parent. If she decides to have the baby it is important to get special prenatal health care right away.

2) Have the baby and place it up for adoption. It means that the girl (the birth mother) decides she cannot take care of the baby. The baby's father must also decide he cannot take care of the baby. An agency or private attorney places the baby with another family to raise. This is the adoptive family. There are organizations to help arrange adoption and all the legal stuff that is involved with that.

It is important to get accurate information about adoption laws in the country where you reside. This is what trained option counselors do. Again, professional pregnancy counselors are sometimes called "option counselors." Option counselors can help the couple with this decision. In addition a couple may want to talk with an attorney or legal aide to learn more about current adoption laws.

For more information on adoption, see the adoption hotlines and phone resources at the end of this article.

3) Have the baby & have a foster parent care for the baby for a short time. Foster care means the baby is cared for by another person while the mother gets ready to raise the baby permanently. This might mean finishing school, finding a place to live or getting a job. Foster care is handled through certain agencies. It can be difficult to arrange and may not be available in some areas of the U.S. Find out your legal rights before deciding on this!

5) She can have an abortion. An abortion is a medical procedure to end pregnancy. It must be done by a physician. In the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, the abortion is called vacuum aspiration. Abortions are safest in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. They are also easier and less expensive during this time. A woman having an abortion will spend several hours in the clinic or hospital. The abortion procedure itself takes about 5 minutes. The rest of the time is for counseling, lab work, and for recovery.

nurse-girlIn the second three months of pregnancy abortions are harder to get and more expensive. There are several kinds of later abortions. One, called a D&E, is like vacuum aspiration. A D&E requires a doctor with special skills and training. Another method is to cause a miscarriage with medicine. Later abortions may require one or more days in the hospital. In some states, teens do not need anyone's permission to get an abortion. In other states, teens need their parent's permission or a Judge's permission to get an abortion. Your clinic or health care provider will know the laws in your particular state of the U.S. (More details on abortion in the 'Abortion' section). For more on this topic -- visit the Planned Parenthood site at www.plannedparenthood.org 1-800-230-PLAN

For the Laws regarding Abortion in your State in the U.S. check out this page from 2006.

Whatever you decide, tell the person who got you pregnant that you are indeed pregnant. It took two of you to do this and you are not alone. These are decisions that many young people want to make together.

Prenatal Care

Prenatal care is special health care during pregnancy. It helps pregnant women stay healthy and helps them have healthy babies. Prenatal care is especially important for teenagers, since teenagers are still growing themselves and often don't eat right.
Teens are more likely to:

Have a baby that weighs less than other babies at birth. Low-birth weight babies are more likely to have serious illnesses. They also have a greater chance of dying before their first birthday than normal weight babies. Teens are still growing themselves and pregnancy adds an extra strain on their bodies. So, it's important to get examined early in your pregnancy.

If you are going to continue your pregnancy be sure to find a clinic or an obstetrician that you like and who answers your questions. During prenatal visits a woman's blood and urine is tested. She is usually give a prenatal vitamin to take every day. Her blood pressure and weight are also checked and she is examined to be sure she and the baby are well.

To have a healthy baby it helps to eat the right foods. It's also important to not use drugs, cigarettes and alcohol. These things can seriously hurt you baby! If you want help quitting any of these, talk to your health care provider or the people at your clinic. In some communities, teens can get free prenatal care. Teens do not need their parents permission to get prenatal care.

Alcohol and Your Baby

Preg teen When your are pregnant, everything you eat or drink goes to your baby. If you drink any kind of alcohol-like beer, wine coolers, liquor or mixed drinks it reaches your baby right away. Alcohol can hurt your baby's body, including its heart and brain, from growing correctly.

If you drink alcohol while you are pregnant, your baby could be born with fetal alcohol syndrome, or FAS for short. Many babies with FAS are mentally retarded. Some have faces that don't look normal. Others have heart problems. Your baby could be born with some, but not all of these problems. This is called fetal alcohol related birth defects, many have health problems for the rest of their lives. Research shows that even small amounts of alcohol can increase the risks of birth defects. So the safest choice is NOT to drink at all during your pregnancy.

In fact, it's best to stop drinking BEFORE you try to become pregnant. Three weeks after you conceive, your baby's important organs are already forming! You may not know that you are pregnant yet. During that time, alcohol could affect your baby's developing brain and body. So if you are thinking about getting pregnant, you should stop drinking before trying to conceive After your baby is born, you should still avoid alcohol if you are breast feeding. Alcohol could reach your baby through your milk. This could cause problems in your baby's development.

preg-sunsetREMEMBER, by choosing not to drink during pregnancy, you are helping your baby get a healthy start in life. Sometimes, it's hard to stop drinking alcohol. But pregnancy is a really good reason to stop. Many places can help you. Here are some you can call in the U.S.:

1-800-ALCOHOL (1-800-252-6465) is a national help and referral line for people suffering the effects of alcohol and drug abuse. Your local Alcoholics Anonymous chapter is in the white pages of the phone book. 1-800-NCA-CALL (1-800-622-2255) the National Council on Alcoholism will also provide you with information on pregnancy and alcohol.

For more on Adolescent Pregnancy and statistics check out this next article by an obstetrician..go there ...

Go to the Video Library for Prenatal Care, Pregnancy and Childbirth - Videos and articles.

NEW - “ was a pregnant teen, I didn't know what to do, but, now I am 21 with a toddler that I adore”. Check out my story...

For more articles on Pregnancy and Childbirth

Resources in the United States:

Planned Parenthood
- 24 hour hotline will direct you to the clinic nearest to you.

Emergency Contraception Information Project
1-888-NOT-2-LATE (1-888-668-2528)

National Office of Post Abortion Trauma

National Abortion Federation

National Adoption Center
1-800-862-3678 - dedicated to expanding adoption opportunities in the U.S.

Post-Abortion Project Rachel

The Independent Adoption Center

Children of the World - (if you want to adopt)

June 2006 -- there are more resources in the U.S.A. on the Hotline page.

Resources on the Web:

Pro Choice America

Planned Parenthood

For Adoption Options and Information

Fact Sheets For Teen Parents

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