So, there's a chance you're knocked up, huh? It happens. Scary shit, though. It’s okay. LOTS of us have been here before.  In fact, about 3 in 10 women becomes pregnant before the age of 20.  True story!

First thing's first...

Yes, You Can Get Pregnant:

  • The first time having sex

  • Before your first menstrual period

  • Using the "pull out" and/or rhythm methods

  • While on birth control - any time you have sex, there is a chance you could get pregnant

  • Even if bathing, urinating, and/or douching after sex

  • If the female does not orgasm

  • If the male does not orgasm/ejaculate (pre-ejaculatory fluid may contain semen)

Just remember: sperm can swim!

Emergency Contraception:

Emergency contraception (EC) can be used up to five days after unprotected sex. This site can direct you to local US providers of the morning after pill. Here’s how to get emergency contraception in Canada.

Now, the morning after pill makes it much less likely you’ll get pregnant, but it’s not as effective as birth control, so don’t use it as your form of birth control. The morning after pill doesn’t protect against STDs, either.

Signs You Could Be Pregnant:

There are a lot of symptoms that mimic pregnancy, so the only way to know for sure if you are, in fact, preggers, is to get a blood test from a doctor. You can get these blood tests from one of many Planned Parenthood centers across the US.

Other signs you may be pregnant:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting

  • Food aversions

  • Missed period

  • Irregular period

  • Feeling exhausted

  • Sore breasts

  • Mood swings

  • Baby popping out of your vagina

If you’re feeling any of these symptoms (which my non-pregnant self feels near-constantly), and have had vaginal sex, you should get a pregnancy test.

How to Find Out For Sure:

If you suspect you may be pregnant, it is important to get tested as soon as possible so that you can identify your options and set up prenatal care.

The most common method of testing for pregnancy is through a Home Pregnancy Test (HPT), which measures the amount of a pregnancy hormone called hCG in a woman's urine.  These tests can be purchased at most drugstores and supermarkets, can be administered at clinics and doctor's offices, and are a quick and easy method of pregnancy testing.

HPTs are highly accurate when used one week after a missed period.  False positive results are rare, as a positive will only show up if there is hCG in the urine.  It is possible for a false negative if testing is performed too early and hCG levels are too low for detection.

A physician can also administer a blood test which checks hCG levels in the blood (and can detect lower levels than a HPT).

OK - I'm Pregnant, So Now What?

You’re pretty overwhelmed right now, and that’s okay. I had my first son when I was just out of my teen years and I remember how scared shitless I was when that second line popped up.

It’s time to figure out what you want to do next. Find a non-judgmental clinic like Planned Parenthood (if you don’t have a local Planned Parenthood, try this site to locate a clinic near you) to figure out your next steps.

You should also talk to a parent or adult you trust about your pregnancy. I know, I know, your parent is probably the LAST person you want to talk to, but you may be surprised by how they react. Plus, it’s a very scary time in your life, so you need as many people in your corner as you can find.

Be wary, though, that plenty of anti-choice clinics (often called “crisis pregnancy centers") won’t give you all of the information you need to make the best decision for you. Because in the end, it’s up to you, and no one should make you feel or do something you don’t want to do.

Your choices are (in no particular order):

1) Abortion – a safe and legal medical procedure that terminates a pregnancy before birth. Abortion may or may not require parental consent. A judge, however, may excuse you from this in a proceeding called “judicial bypass.” Read more about abortion on the BB2G Abortion Resources page.

2) Adoption – if you do not want to have an abortion and would prefer to give the baby up for adoption, you have many different types of adoptions to consider. If you are planning to give the baby up for adoption, you must begin adequate prenatal care as soon as possible, even if that means telling your parents that you are pregnant. Denying your pregnancy by wearing loose clothing is unhealthy for both you and the baby.

3) Parenting – if you are considering parenting, you should begin prenatal care as soon as possible. Parenting is a humongous responsibility to think about as a teenager (or an adult, to be frank), so be sure to talk parenthood through with an adult you trust. It’s not as glamorous as those Teen Moms make it out to be, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it.

The Science-y Stuff:

Conception is defined as the union of a single egg and sperm. Conception also signifies the beginning of a pregnancy. Conception usually occurs during sexual intercourse between a male and a female of childbearing age.

Pregnancy lasts (give or take) ten lunar months, nine calendar months, forty weeks, or 280 days; however, teen mothers are more likely to give birth prematurely (before 37 weeks).

Intrauterine development is divided into three stages: ovum, embryo and fetus.

The Ovum Stage lasts from conception to day fourteen and involves cellular replication, blastocyst formation, establishment of the germ layers, and initial development of the embryonic membranes.

Stage of the Embryo: lasts from day fifteen until about eight weeks after conception, or until the embryo measures 3mm. This is the most critical time for organ and main external system development. The rapidly dividing cells are particularly vulnerable to malformation caused by teratogens.

Teratogens are substances or exposure to substances (i.e. cigarettes, drugs and/or medications, alcohol) that cause abnormal development.

The Fetal Stage lasts from nine weeks until the pregnancy ends. Changes in this period - although long - aren't nearly as dramatic as they are in the other stages as the structures and functions are already in place.

The fetus is less vulnerable to teratogens, with the exception of those that affect the central nervous system.

Viability describes the ability of the fetus to survive outside of the womb. While the golden standard for viability was once twenty-eight weeks, viability can be seen as early as twenty-two weeks (albeit with a stint in the NICU). Limitations on survival include central nervous system functioning and the capacity of lungs to properly oxygenate the fetus outside the uterus.

Prenatal Care:

Seeing a health care provider regularly throughout pregnancy is important to ensure that the pregnancy is progressing without complications and to identify early on whether the pregnancy may be high risk and requires special care. Health care providers may perform the following during routine checks:

  • Due date calculation

  • Blood test, including infection tests, blood type test, Rh factor test, and iron level check

  • Blood pressure check

  • Weight monitoring

  • Fetal growth and heart checks

  • Urine tests to identify preeclampsia, diabetes, or urinary tract infections

  • Blood glucose challenge, with possible additional glucose tolerance test

  • Prenatal screenings for fetal health problems

    • Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS)

    • First trimester screen

    • Maternal serum screen, aka Quad Screen or AFP

    • Amniocentesis

  • Group Beta Strep Testing

  • Ultrasound

Many health care providers will also provide educational materials and local resource information in addition to health care.

Teen Pregnancy Risks/Complications:

Women who become pregnant during their teen years are more likely to experience the following complications, especially if they do not receive prenatal care:

  • Vitamin deficiencies, including anemia

  • High blood pressure and preeclampsia

  • Pre-term labor and/or birth, which may result in health problems for the infant

  • Difficulties with vaginal birth for those under age 18 due to underdeveloped pelvis

  • Low birth weight of the baby

  • Antenatal and/or Postpartum Depression

It is very important to receive prenatal care to avoid these risks and complications and to ensure the best outcome for both the mother and the child.

Related Resource Pages on Band Back Together:

High Risk Pregnancy Resources

Depression During Pregnancy

Abortion Resources

Poverty, Economic Struggles, and Hardship Resources

Diabetes Resources

Additional Pregnancy Resources

The toll-free line 1-800-311-BABY (1-800-311-2229) offers assistance in finding low cost or free prenatal care to any woman in the United States.  Spanish speakers can call 1-800-504-7081.

American Pregnancy Association is a national non-profit health organization committed to promoting reproductive and pregnancy wellness through education, research, advocacy, and community awareness.

March of Dimes - Excellent source of information that is devoted to helping moms have full-term pregnancies and research the problems that threaten the health of babies.  They have a special page for Teenage Pregnancy.

Obtaining insurance while pregnant. Here's a non-spammy link that has a breakdown for insurance information.

Pregnancy Options - a workbook to aid in making decisions regarding a pregnancy.

Planned Parenthood - Planned Parenthood provides a wide range of services and can assist with prenatal care.

WomensHealth.gov - This is a site run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  There is a wealth of information to assist pregnant women.

Epigee Women's Health offers real photos of the developing fetus in the womb according to trimester.

Health Canada has health-related pregnancy information for pregnant Canadians as well as a directory of services by province/territory.

For help finding low or no cost health insurance for you and your child contact:

Medicaid

State Children’s Health Insurance Program
877-KIDS-NOW (877-543-7669)

If you need help obtaining healthy food and health care for you and your child contact:

U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Stamps Program

Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC)

I wish you luck, fellow Band Member. It’s a hard situation, but in here, we understand. So please, share your stories with us.