How to Deal with an Unplanned Teen Pregnancy
An unplanned teen pregnancy… as if an unplanned pregnancy as an adult isn’t scary enough, let’s add being a teen on top of it. The pressures of keeping up good grades in school, the peer pressures, fashion standards… you name it, the list goes on.
I remember how stressful high school was. I felt like I was being pushed and pulled in every direction between teachers, parents, mentors, and other influences. They expected me to be planning and preparing for my future. Friends, peers and boys expected me to look and behave to their very specific standards. I felt torn in so many different directions that there was no time for me to reflect on what I wanted. I couldn’t imagine adding an unplanned pregnancy on top of all that pressure.
I know you are aching for a way out if this unplanned pregnancy is putting a crimp on your plans. On top of the normal feelings of helplessness when facing an unplanned pregnancy, you are likely facing family members’ influence, friends’ judgement and society’s expectations when it comes to what to do if you are a pregnant teenager. You may even fear being disowned. Where do I even begin to try to relate to this? My prayer is that you find the path that leads to healing, happiness and wholeness, regardless of the influence around you.
When to Tell
“I’m pregnant.” I doubt any parent of a teen wants to hear these words. I’d be surprised if any teen wants to say them. I was 22 years old when I found out I was pregnant. I was in college dealing with the typical pressures of that lifestyle. Although I was an adult in age, I was still nervous to say “I’m pregnant” out loud, let alone say it to my parents. There is no easy way to communicate an unplanned pregnancy as a teen, and you are not prepared for it. I have no magic formula for who to tell and when to tell them. It is the responsibility of the teen to decide such things for themselves. Of course, there is a time limit, as a baby bump will begin to form, and the teen will no longer have a choice as to who to tell and who not to tell. Eventually, the truth will be revealed, regardless of the comfort level of the admission. My advice is this: sooner rather than later.
Self-care for mom and baby is crucial during pregnancy. Here are three basic support resources and categories with a brief explanation of each:
- Prenatal Care – The first step in living healthy while pregnant is seeing a doctor. Prenatal care is just as important for the teen as it is for the baby. The first action a doctor will take is confirming the pregnancy. Then, a teen can set up her next appointments and take the next step, which is practicing a healthy lifestyle.
- Healthy Lifestyle – The basics of living a healthy lifestyle entail abstaining from alcohol and drugs. As far as diet goes, do your research on which types of foods to increase intake on and which types of foods to avoid. A doctor can help a teen determine the best healthy eating habits she can put in place while pregnant. Prenatal vitamins are a crucial aspect of a healthy pregnancy lifestyle. A pregnant teen may be going through a lot, but it is important to remember that she is living healthy for two beings now. The healthier her lifestyle choices, the more likely it is that the teen will experience a healthy pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby.
- Support – Getting emotional support is important as well while trying to navigate through an unplanned teen pregnancy. Support resources include:
- Local churches
- Supportive friends and family members
- Care pregnancy centers and adoption professionals
- Department of Health and Human Services
- Support groups
- Healthy and positive online forums
You can learn more about self-care for mom and baby during an unplanned pregnancy here.
Finding Support as You Consider the Options for Pregnant Teens
Remember, as always, you are not alone. In high school, a girl in my class experienced an unplanned pregnancy. She pushed through the stigma and kept that baby. Today, she is happily married to that baby’s father with two more beautiful children. I have the utmost respect for that woman. She went through a reality that many do not recover from, and many shrink at the prospect. It wasn’t necessarily that she chose parenting that awed me; it was the controversy she faced over and again that impressed me. I have no idea what her home life was like, but I absolutely admire her strength and courage to follow her heart regardless of what her environment was like.
However, parenting isn’t always right for everyone, and as a pregnant teenager, you do have other options, including adoption and abortion. Here are some factors to consider as you weigh your teen pregnancy options:
My first suggestion to teens facing an unwanted pregnancy is to check into state laws. Having a legal understanding of your options will be a significant factor in making an informed and mature decision. Especially when it comes to abortion, laws vary by state. Here is a comprehensive list of the summary of each states’ law regarding abortion from Planned Parenthood.
Teens who chose adoption have different rights as well. Many states do not require parental consent if a teen chooses adoption. Here is some insight into states’ law regarding a teen placing a baby for adoption.
If you are still unsure of your rights, contact your local Planned Parenthood or your local adoption agency for more information. American Adoptions is another agency that is there for you as well. Please call their 24/7 hotline for more information: 1-800-ADOPTION.
Your Current Circumstances
Teens who are facing an unexpected pregnancy should seriously consider their options. I speak from experience as to how hard it was in college for me to face an unplanned pregnancy. Teens have the added factor of having guardians, parents, and others they may have to confer with. Consider these factors as well:
- Living Arrangements – Babies don’t just fit in a crib. There are toys, diapers, clothes, etc. Having enough space for a baby is important. Even more important: the home must be safe. Baby-proofing a healthy home and providing a safe environment is crucial for a baby.
- Expenses – Babies require a few things to provide proper care. Diapers aren’t cheap, and neither is the whole cost of raising a child. Even as I worked full-time, I struggled to make ends meet when I had my son. Consider income and expenses realistically when weighing your options.
- Influences – Toxic relationships are not healthy for a child to be around. Children see and hear more than we give them credit for. Exposing a child to toxicity will affect them negatively. Review the relationships in your life and determine what options you have in order to remove unhealthy relationships that produce toxic interaction.
These are just a few circumstances to consider when choosing whether or not to keep a baby when facing an unplanned teen pregnancy. Something I implore you to remember is this: Your wants and needs are important too. If you have goals and dreams that you want to fulfill, then consider adoption. If you have an idea of the life you want for your baby, but know that you don’t have the ability to provide it, then consider adoption. It me be the best choice you could make for your child. It might also be the best choice you could make for yourself.
Hang In There
I want to encourage you. I believe that every woman, regardless of age, deserves a choice when it comes to the options for an unplanned teen pregnancy. I believe that women everywhere should have options. While there is a harsh reality to face during an unplanned pregnancy at any age, that doesn’t mean that any woman is ever “trapped” in her situation.
Resources to Explore Your Teen Pregnancy Options: