Unplanned Pregnancy in Difficult Circumstances
What to Do if You’re a Teenager and Pregnant: Your 3 Options
Facing an unplanned teen pregnancy can be overwhelming, but there is support, information and available to you — and you can do this. Here’s where to start.
According to statistics, almost one-third of teenage girls will face a pregnancy — and the vast majority of those are unplanned. But that doesn’t change the fact that when you discover your teenage unwanted pregnancy, it can feel incredibly isolating.
You probably never imagined that you would be the one to get pregnant. You have plans for your future — graduating high school, attending prom, starting a career — and you can’t imagine a child fitting into those dreams. You’re stressed, worried and unsure of what to do when you’re a teenager and pregnant.
You are not alone.
You have all kinds of support, information, and advice available to you during this time. If you are facing an unplanned teen pregnancy, the information on this page will help you as you decide what to do next.
What to Do If You’re a Pregnant Teenager
In facing an unplanned teenage pregnancy, you undoubtedly have countless thoughts running through your mind, and it can be hard to figure out where to start.
Remember: You’re not alone. The number of pregnant teenagers is higher in the U.S. than in most other developed countries. Many factors, including a lack of comprehensive sex education, contribute to this. You’re not the first young woman to say, “I’m a teenager, and I think I’m pregnant” — but you’ll need to take responsible steps forward from here.
As you deal with your unwanted teen pregnancy, here’s what you’ll need to do.
Step 1: Consider Your Teen Pregnancy Options
What are the options for a pregnant teenage girl in your situation? Generally speaking, you have three teenage pregnancy options:
- You can choose to raise your child.
- You can place your child for adoption.
- You can terminate the pregnancy.
Not all of these options for pregnant teens are realistic for every young woman. You’ll need to seriously consider your personal circumstances when deciding which options for an unplanned teenage pregnancy work for you.
We encourage you to seek out professional counseling for pregnant teenagers like yourself to better understand these options. In the meantime, learn a bit more about them below.
Becoming a Parent
When you first discovered your unwanted teenage pregnancy, maybe you considered raising your child. A baby can seem fun — someone to dress up and love on for the rest of your life.
But becoming a parent is a whole lot more than the Kodak moments. It takes serious preparation, discipline and maturity — and it’s not all fun and games.
Ask yourself these questions first:
- Who will watch your child while you’re at school or your job?
- How will you pay for diapers, childcare, schooling, clothes and everything else? Are you financially prepared to become a parent?
- Are you prepared for the stress and time commitment of parenting — like the sleepless nights and long crying spells a baby brings?
- What will you do if your parents or family will not help you?
If you decide to raise a child from a teenaged unplanned pregnancy, you need to start preparing now. There are a number of things to consider as you get ready for life as a teen parent:
- Parenting classes can help you know what to expect after your baby arrives. Some classes are oriented specifically toward teenage parents.
- Being a parent means you won’t have all the time for activities and social gatherings as others your age. At the same time, it’s still important to engage in hobbies that you like when you have time.
- Regardless of age or situation, all parents need support from others. Build a strong network of people you can rely on for emotional support, advice, or help.
With the right preparation and support, countless teen parents go on to raise happy and thriving families after an initially unwanted teenage pregnancy. However, it’s important you choose this option fully understanding its reality. Parenting is a lifelong commitment, and you can’t “change your mind” later on.
Placing Your Child for Adoption
Adoption is always an option for a teenage unwanted pregnancy. This path allows you to give your child a chance at life with the greatest opportunities — and gives you the opportunity to continue your education and work toward your dreams.
When you place a child for adoption, you are in charge of every aspect, and you don’t need parental permission (except in very rare circumstances). Did you know that you can choose your baby’s parents and the amount of contact you want to share with them? Adoption today isn’t “goodbye”; through open adoption, you can be a part of your child’s life for years to come. Placing a child for adoption isn’t easy, though; many women experience a degree of grief and loss, even when they don’t regret their decision.
If you think adoption may be right for you, reach out to one of these adoption agencies to learn more:
- American Adoptions
- Adoption Network Law Center
- Bethany Christian Services
- Gladney Center for Adoption
Remember: Contacting an adoption agency in no way obligates you to choose adoption.
Terminating the Pregnancy
If you are facing a teen pregnancy, abortion may be the best solution. You may not be physically or emotionally ready to carry a child to term and give birth, and a pregnancy may disrupt your education. While abortion comes with its own emotional risks, more than 95 percent of women who choose this option do not regret it.
If you are considering abortion and are under 18, many states will require you to gain the consent of at least one parent. An abortion procedure also costs money, sometimes hundreds of dollars. Confiding in your parent can seem impossible, but it will likely be necessary.
If abortion seems like the right choice for you, please reach out to a local healthcare provider or clinic like Planned Parenthood to learn more.
Step 2: Tell Your Parents (or Another Trusted Adult) About Your Teenage Unwanted Pregnancy.
Whatever relationship you have with your parents, telling them about a teenage unplanned pregnancy can cause a great deal of anxiety. How will they react? What will they say?
As you prepare to give them the news, keep these things in mind:
- Give them time to cope: Your parents’ initial reaction may be unpleasant, but they are likely just as shocked as you were about your pregnancy. They may need some time to process the news.
- If you’ve made a decision, discuss it: Help your parents understand what you want to do about your unplanned pregnancy and why. The support of your family can be crucial during this time.
- Seek help if necessary: If you are unsure of how your parents will respond to the news, you can find a counselor to help mediate the conversation.
But, what to do if you have an accidental teen pregnancy — and can’t tell your parents?
Whatever path you decide, you’ll need to eventually share your news with your legal guardians. But it may be helpful to have another trusted adult on your side first. Do you have a friend’s parent, a religious leader, a coach or a counselor at school you can talk to? They may provide the support you’re looking for and can help present a united front when you eventually tell your parents.
Step 3: Talk to the Father.
The teenage pregnancy option you choose and your relationship with the father will both play a role in how you should address your pregnancy with him. For example, if you want to place your baby for adoption, you will usually have to talk to the father so that he can legally consent to the adoption. Other teen pregnancy options do not require the consent of the father.
If your child’s father is supportive of your situation and decision, he can be a valuable partner to you on your journey. The two of you will want to discuss what your decision means for both of you and what the nature of your relationship will be.
If your child’s father is unsupportive, uninvolved, or unknown, talk to a professional or trusted adult to decide what you need to do next.
If you’re asking, “My teenager girlfriend is pregnant — what do I do?” check out our list of suggestions here.
Step 4: Seek Help for Pregnant Teenagers Like You.
If you choose to continue your unplanned teenage pregnancy, either to eventually parent or place your child for adoption, you should be prepared for a variety of physical and emotional changes.
Here are a few steps you’ll need to take to stay healthy and safe:
Seek Prenatal Care and Make Healthy Choices
Teen parents face a higher risk of health complications during their pregnancy, so it is especially important that you take measures to stay healthy:
- Seek prenatal care as soon as possible.
- Stop all drinking and smoking immediately.
- Eat healthy, sleep, and exercise.
- See a mental health professional.
The sooner you adopt healthy habits, the more likely you will be to have a seamless pregnancy and a healthy, happy baby.
Consider Maternity Homes for Pregnant Teenagers, if Needed
Some teenagers wonder if they can move to another location for the duration of their pregnancy. If you need to move temporarily or permanently, you have a few different options:
- Moving in with a family member
- Relocation programs
- Maternity homes
In general, it is not recommended that you relocate unless it is necessary. For most women, it is easiest to have a healthy and stress-free pregnancy in a familiar environment without the added burden of moving away.
Continue Your Education
High school pregnancies can be tough, whatever option you decide to pursue. In fact, teenagers who become parents face a higher risk of dropping out of high school because of the responsibilities that come with work and raising a child.
It is by no means easy to balance a job, pregnancy and school; it takes hard work, the right living situation, and a strong network of support from loved ones. Fortunately, there are alternatives to traditional schooling that may work better for you during your pregnancy:
- Flexible schedules: High schools are gradually adapting to help pregnant teenagers succeed by working out personalized schedules with them. Speak to your school administrators about implementing or introducing flexible school plans.
- Online high school: Programs like National High School or Excel High School allow people to finish their high school education remotely.
- GED: Many people take the GED in place of completing high school, and many colleges and employers see it as an equivalent to a high school diploma.
Completing your education as a pregnant teen can be challenging, but it also hugely benefits you by keeping your future education and career options open. Whatever decision you make about your unplanned teenage pregnancy, you always have options to continue your schooling.
How to Talk About Your Teenage Unwanted Pregnancy
Whether it’s at school, social events, or family gatherings, you will probably encounter people with a variety of opinions about your pregnancy. Unfortunately, some of these opinions about teenage pregnancies might be negative or insensitive.
Only you can decide when, where, and how you want to talk about your pregnancy. But whatever situation you are in, you can take action to welcome the positive influences in your life and keep out the negative. Surround yourself with people who are supportive of you during your pregnancy, and don’t be afraid to let others know when their comments aren’t welcome.
Additional Resources for Pregnant Teenagers
Whatever decision you make about your teenage unwanted pregnancy, help is out there for you. Here are some of the places you may choose to contact as you look ahead:
Don’t be afraid to ask for help during your unplanned teenage pregnancy — no matter where you are or what your situation is, you are never alone.