I’m 16 And I’m Pregnant. What Do I Do Now?

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If this pregnancy is unplanned, you’re probably overwhelmed and pretty scared. It may seem like you’re the only one this is happening to but you’re not alone—around 500,000 teenage girls get pregnant every year in the U.S. If this is a planned pregnancy, you may still have a lot of questions and a lot of plans to make.

You might be wondering how to break the news to your boyfriend and your parents, if you’ll stay in school, what people will say about you, and if you’ll be able to provide for your baby. Most of all, you need to decide if you’re going to keep the baby, have an abortion, or give it up for adoption. As you know, these are all big, life-changing decisions you’ll have to make. But you’re not alone.

Here at Westchester Health Pediatrics, we have years of experience helping teens deal with a pregnancy and all of the decisions that come along with it. To learn about all the other services we offer teens to help them make good decisions and stay healthy, click here.

Whatever option you choose, we’re here for you

At Westchester Health Pediatrics, we want you to know that we care about you and will support whatever choices you make regarding your pregnancy. With no judgments, we’ll help you work through the pros and cons of each option. Whatever action you decide to take, we’re here for you with information, advice, referrals and prenatal healthcare.

What is discussed with us stays with us

We also want you to know that you can talk to us about this pregnancy and we will keep it confidential. Most of all, we want you (and if you decide to keep it, your baby) to be healthy and happy.

First, make sure you’re pregnant

Usually, the way to tell if you’re pregnant is that you miss a period and/or you get a positive result on a home pregnancy test. Although a home test is generally accurate, it isn’t as reliable as the laboratory blood test that doctors can perform. Even if you’re sure you’re pregnant, we urge you to come in and see us to confirm it. If it’s positive, together we can talk about where to go from there.

If you decide to keep your baby, it’s very important to get prenatal care, for your health and your baby’s health

Many teenage girls keep their pregnancy a secret as long as possible. Others deny that they’re pregnant, or hope that it will just somehow go away. As a result, they often don’t get any prenatal care during the crucial early months of their baby’s development, which can lead to health problems later on for them and their baby. That’s why it’s very important to come in for prenatal tests, nutrition advice and many other pregnancy-related services.

Can you have a healthy baby as a teenager?

Yes, you can. However, it’s really important for you to get proper medical care all the way through your pregnancy. Since your body is still developing, seeing a doctor regularly is especially crucial when you’re expecting a baby.

Some important health tips to keep in mind

Here is some important things you should do to keep yourself healthy and give your baby the best start in life, from Planned Parenthood:

  • Eat sensibly (avoid junk food, greasy foods like burgers and fries, and sugary soda)
  • Exercise
  • Take prenatal vitamins
  • Don’t smoke. If you smoke, you need to quit for the health of your baby. Smoking during pregnancy has been shown to cause lower birth weight and for babies to be born prematurely. Click here for a blog about the effects smoking has on children.
  • Don’t use drugs or alcohol. Both of these can be very damaging to your unborn child. If you think you might be addicted to drugs or alcohol, ask us about counseling and treatment programs to help you quit.
  • Only take the medicines your doctor prescribes. Make sure we know about any over-the-counter (OTC) medicines you are taking.

Risks that are greater if you are pregnant before the age of 15 or you don’t get prenatal care:

We can’t stress enough how important prenatal care is, for you and your baby. Here are some risks to keep in mind, from the American Pregnancy Association:

  • low birth weight/premature birth
  • anemia (low iron levels)
  • high blood pressure (can lead to preeclampsia, a potentially fatal health condition)
  • a higher rate of infant mortality
  • the baby’s head is wider than your pelvic opening (might require a Caesarean section)
  • a greater risk of SIDS (read this blog)

Is there a boyfriend you need to tell?

Going through a pregnancy with your boyfriend can be tricky, especially if the pregnancy was not planned. If your relationship is fairly new, you may not yet have a solid foundation to fall back on. If you’re still learning basic things about each other, pregnancy can throw a wrench into all of that.

If you decide to keep the baby, you may be wondering if he’ll stay with you, be a father to the baby, marry you. Will you two live together, move in with parents? Instead of keeping these thoughts inside, we encourage you talk to us or someone else you trust, and then after thinking things through, talk to your boyfriend. It’s a lot of things for you both to handle and will probably take several conversations to find answers.

Telling your parents

Telling your parents might be tough if they’re against your pregnancy, or they might be completely supportive. Only you know that. Plus, they may strongly want you to keep the baby, or they may strongly want you to give it up. Again, that’s something you may already know, or you may find out once you tell them. However it works out, we’re here if you need us to help you through this very emotional and stressful time. If you want us to help you tell your parents, we can.

Need help? Call these numbers

  • American Pregnancy Helpline: 866-942-6466
  • Baby Safe Haven: 888-510-2229
  • Crisis Call Center: 800-273-8255 or text ANSWER to 839863
  • Planned Parenthood: 800-230-7526
  • TeenLine: 800-852-8336 or text TEEN to 839863

Helpful websites:

Need to talk to someone about your pregnancy? Come see us.

If you’re pregnant or think you are, please come in and talk with one of our Westchester Health Pediatrics pediatricians. We’re here for you with support, advice and a listening ear…whatever you need. We’ll do everything we can while you’re going this and help you arrive at a resolution that’s best for you. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.

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By Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP, a practicing pediatrician with Westchester Health Pediatrics, member of Northwell Health Physician Partners

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About the Author: ML Ball