I’m pregnant—now what? at a glance:
- If you're pregnant, you have three options: abortion, adoption, and parenting.
- Only you can decide what to do, but it can be helpful to talk about it with someone you trust.
- Take time to think through your options, but the sooner you decide the more options you’ll have.
What Are My Options?
If you're pregnant, you have three options – abortion, adoption, and parenting.
Abortion is a legal and safe procedure that ends a pregnancy. People have many different feelings after an abortion: relief, grief, sadness, happiness, or all of these at once. But there is no “right” way to feel. Abortion does not cause long-term depression or mental health problems.
Many teens want to talk with their parents before having an abortion. Some states make you tell a parent if you’re having an abortion (if you’re under 18), and others don’t (http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/abortion/parental-consent-notification-laws-25268.htm). In states where you must tell a parent, you can ask a judge to excuse you from having to do this (called "judicial bypass").
Some women choose to let another family raise their baby. Many women who choose this option feel happy knowing that their child will live in a good, loving home. But others find that the loss and sadness is deeper and longer lasting than they expected.
Adoption laws are different in every state, so if you choose this option it’s a good idea to do some research and talk with someone at an adoption agency. And find out what rights a birth father has in your state – the law may say that he needs to agree to the adoption, too.
Being a parent can be a wonderful experience. A child can bring joy into people's lives. But, being a teen parent is often very difficult.
Some teens have to drop out of school and change their career plans in order to raise a child. Spending time with a child becomes more important than going out with friends and having fun. Some teens get help from parents and family, and some don’t. Raising a child without a partner can be even more of a challenge – many teen couples who have a baby don’t end up staying together.
When Do I Need to Decide?
It can be tough, but if you’re pregnant, you need to decide whether or not you want to continue the pregnancy as soon as possible. While you’re deciding what to do, take good care of yourself and get prenatal care from a doctor or nurse.
If you think you might have the baby, talk with a doctor about prenatal care so they can make sure that you’re healthy and the pregnancy is normal.
If you’re considering abortion, make an appointment at a health center as soon as you can. Abortion is very safe, but there are more risks the longer you wait.
Contact your local Planned Parenthood health center for pregnancy testing and to discuss your options.
How Do I Decide?
It can be tough deciding what to do — and it’s a decision only you can make for yourself. You may find it helpful to list the advantages and disadvantages of continuing or ending a pregnancy. Think about what advantages or disadvantages are most important to you.
Talking with someone about your feelings can be helpful, too. If you can, it’s a really good idea to talk with your parents about it — chances are they care about you and want to help you. You could also talk with another family member, boyfriend/girlfriend, friend, school counselor, religious advisor, or other trusted adult. Choose someone who will listen to you, be supportive, respect your privacy, and not try to pressure you into anything.
Some things to consider include:
- Which option(s) could I live with and which would be impossible for me?
- Am I ready to become a parent?
- What can I financially afford?
- What are my plans for the future?
- What do I believe is best for me, my family, or my future family in the long run?
- How would each option affect my everyday life?
- What would each option mean to the people closest to me?
- What are my spiritual and moral beliefs?
- Am I being pressured to choose one option over another?
How Do I Tell My Parents I’m Pregnant?
Sometimes parents are shocked or angry, and sometimes they're understanding. There is really no way to know how your parents will feel unless you talk with them about it. It might help to find a time when no one is distracted – ask them when a good time to talk is.
Most people worry their parents will freak out, but that’s not always what happens. If you can, try to be open, honest, and remind your parents that you trust them and need their help. Your parents might also respond openly and honestly, without getting mad. If your parents do get upset, they may just need some time to calm down.
Even though it probably feels scary, talking with your parents can really help. They can go over your options with you, and make sure you get proper medical care.