Unplanned Pregnancy in Difficult Circumstances
Under 18 and Expecting: Unplanned Teenage Pregnancy
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.
Luckily, 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.
Coping with Unplanned Teenage Pregnancy
In facing an unwanted teen pregnancy, you undoubtedly have countless thoughts running through your mind, and it can be hard to figure out where to start.
First, know that you’re not alone. While the unplanned teenage pregnancy statistics have fallen over time, they are still higher in the U.S. than in most other developed countries. Many factors, including a lack of comprehensive sex education, contribute to this. This is one reason why teen pregnancy by state is highest in the South, where many schools teach abstinence-only education. If this is your situation, your unplanned teenage pregnancy may not be entirely your own fault.
However, it is the situation you are currently in. As you deal with your unplanned pregnancy, here are some of the first things you will need to think about:
Considering Your Teen Pregnancy Options
You can choose to raise your child, place the child for adoption, or terminate the pregnancy. As you begin pursuing your unplanned pregnancy options, there may be certain obstacles if you are under the age of 18.
If you are considering abortion and are under 18, many states will require you to gain the consent of at least one parent. Adoption and parenting are decisions that you can usually legally make without your parents, but they can still cause conflict if members of your family are unsupportive of your plans. For these reasons, you will most likely have to go to your parents with the news of your unplanned teen pregnancy.
Telling Your Parents
Whatever relationship you have with your parents, telling them about a teenage unplanned pregnancy can cause a great deal of anxiety. 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.
Above all, let your parents know how much their support would mean to you as you make plans for your unplanned teenage pregnancy.
Talking 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 to decide what you need to do next.
Pregnancy Concerns for Teenagers
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 of the things you may need to consider over the course of your pregnancy:
Having a Healthy Pregnancy
Teen parents face a higher risk of health complications during their pregnancy, so it is especially important that you take measures to stay healthy. Consider the following:
- 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.
Relocating for a Pregnancy
Some teen parents 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 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.
Talking about Your 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 high school 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.
Information for Teen Parents
Teenage women can and do successfully raise children, but it requires a great deal of preparation. Here are just a few of the things you will want to consider if you wish to parent as a result of your unplanned teen pregnancy:
Parenting and School
An unexpected pregnancy can lead to obstacles for teenagers who are in high school. Teen 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 work, parenting, 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 work better for some:
- Flexible schedules – High schools are gradually adapting to help teen parents 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 or parenting 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.
Preparing for Parenthood
Being a parent is not an easy job for anyone, but you can begin setting yourself up for success right 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. Many options for 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.
Help for Pregnant Teens
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 this time — no matter where you are or what your situation is, you are never alone.