Helping Pregnant Teens Know Their Options

Teen pregnancy continues to be an issue in the United States. However, as the Centers for Disease Control states, teen birth rates fell from 17.4% per 1,000 females in 2018 to 16.7% per 1,000 females in 2019. While these numbers are improved, more work is needed to help the numbers continue to decline.

Key takeaways:

Teen pregnancy affects females of every socioeconomic background. But some races experience higher birth rates than others. So, all teens need to understand their options if a pregnancy occurs.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, teen pregnancy occurs when a woman under the age of 20 becomes pregnant. The definition of teen pregnancy still applies if the woman is under the age of 12.

How to know you're pregnant in your teens

The wait can be stressful if you’re a female teen who suspects she might be pregnant. When it comes to pregnancy, learning whether you are pregnant or not is crucial. The best method to determine if you are pregnant is by taking a pregnancy test. Pregnancy tests are at most grocery stores and pharmacies. They check your urine for HCG levels.

HCG is the Human Chorionic Gonadotropin and is considered the pregnancy hormone. Hormone levels rise after a fertilized egg implants in your uterus. When you are pregnant, a blood test or urine test will detect the level of HCG. However, you can also ask your Gynecologist to request a blood test. Both blood tests and store-bought pregnancy tests will check your HCG levels. Your Gynecologist may also request an ultrasound to confirm a pregnancy. But if you have experienced a late period, it is essential to test.

Positive pregnancy test – what to do?

After you’ve received a positive pregnancy test, you might be in shock. It is normal to be shocked after receiving surprising news. But there are options for you. We suggest speaking with your parents or guardians to discuss what you can do. No decisions have to be made the same day you find out. But some options are more time-sensitive than others.

Options for pregnant teens

If you’re a pregnant teen, we understand this can be a challenging time. You might be struggling with deciding what to do about your pregnancy. However, you and your family have options.

Raise the child

Becoming a parent during your teen years can be difficult. However, many teen parents go on to raise healthy children. The decision to keep your pregnancy and raise the child is a big decision. But if you have support, it can make the process easier to handle.

When choosing to raise your child, there are resources available. Medicaid is medical coverage. It will enable you to receive prenatal care.

The Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC) helps you buy food such as formula. WIC can also provide counseling and breastfeeding support. However, there are income requirements. A representative from your local WIC office can assist you in completing an application.

However, several questions must be answered if you intend to raise a child. Will you remain at home or find your own place? Will the child’s father help you financially? Or will you need to file for child support?

Pregnant teens need a support system. Contact a pregnancy center to request assistance if your parents or guardians do not help. You may want to speak with a counselor to discuss your feelings.

But know that your life is not over because you choose to become a teen mother. You can finish high school and attend college.

A Kinship Care program

Another option for pregnant teens is a Kinship Care program. Kinship Care is when a family member offers to raise the child.

A Kinship Care agreement can allow a teen to help raise their child with their family member. But Kinship Care does have its own difficulties.

Older relatives may need to be made aware of changes in best practices for infants sleeping. They might need to be made aware of newer car seat laws.

However, these challenges do not mean the relative and teen can’t form a beneficial agreement.

But if Kinship Care is unavailable, the baby may end up in foster care.

Put the baby up for adoption

Some teens choose to place their babies for adoption. Adoption occurs when the birth mother allows someone else to become the child's legal parent.

States have adoption agencies that handle the adoption process. But adoption can also happen through a state’s department for children and families.

There are four types of adoption:

  1. Public. A public adoption happens when a child is placed with a family through the state or an agency.
  2. Private or independent adoption. This occurs when the birth parents use an attorney, clergy member, or licensed facilitator.
  3. Closed adoption. This happens when the names of the birth mother and the adoptive parents are withheld from each other.
  4. Open adoptions. These occur when the birth mother selects the adoptive parents. She might meet with them and develop a relationship with them.

Have an abortion

Choosing to end your pregnancy is a private decision. No one can make this choice but you.

If you do decide to terminate the pregnancy, it’s important to do so within the allotted time frame. Each state has differing laws. So, you need to check the deadline for legal abortion in your state.

Abortion is illegal in some states, so you may travel to get one. It's also essential to find out the cost before scheduling the procedure.

How to prevent pregnancy

If you are already pregnant, you have options to help you. But if you are not pregnant but had a scare, prevention is important. Pregnancy can be avoided by abstaining from sexual activity. It is also preventable through using contraception like condoms, birth control implants, a vaginal ring, and birth control pills.

Discussing different forms of birth control with a parent and your doctor is helpful. They give you more information about the best option for you.

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