Finding out you are pregnant as a teenager can be shocking and you may not know where to begin to look for help. First, realize that you are not alone. In fact, according to The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), "In 2015, a total of 229,715 babies were born to women aged 15-19 years...this is a record low for U.S. teens in this age group." Though the 2015 statistics may be a record low, they are still a high number. There are many resources that will give pregnant teenagers and their parents guidance through the difficult journey of teenage pregnancy and parenthood.
Essential Resources for Teen Pregnancy Help
Beginning with your closest connections, such as your family, teachers or counselors from school, pediatrician, and religious advisors, is a good start, but there are many other resources available to teens facing an unexpected pregnancy and all of the associated decisions.
Telling Your Parents
Telling your parents can be stressful, and it can be hard to know what to say and where to start. There are resources available to help you figure out how to start an open and honest conversation with your parents.
- KidsHealth.org: If you are worried that your parents will not be supportive, or you are afraid to tell them, this site can provide you with an excellent guide on how to start the conversation.
- Center for Young Women's Health: If you need more information on how to start the conversation with your parents, this site has nine thoughtful points to consider which should help.
Making Your Decision
- Planned Parenthood: This site will give you the online form to locate the Planned Parenthood center closest to you, and you can visit in person for assistance. Services vary by location and may include pregnancy testing and related services, women's health care, abortion, STD testing , treatment vaccines, emergency contraception (morning after pill), general health care and more.
- Birthright International: Birthright is an organization that was founded in 1968 to help women cope with the stress associated with an unplanned pregnancy. Although the organization serves women of all ages, it provides many resources for pregnant teens. Some of the services you can find at Birthright include pregnancy testing, prenatal care information, referrals to social service agencies, assistance locating resources in your community that can help teen parents, information on how to place your baby up for adoption and more.
If you are considering placing your child up for adoption, you'll want to learn everything you can about what's involved in the process. Use these resources to find out where to start, how the process works and what legalities are involved.
- Child Welfare Information Gateway: The adoption page on this website provides a lot of information for those teens looking to adopt their baby to another family. This site offers information that can help guide you every step of the way, giving you information from the legality behind adoption to the emotions you are likely to experience afterward.
- Adoption.com: At this site, you can join forums for support for your decision. This website also provides answers to a lot of questions about adoption, such as open versus closed adoption, choosing a family, how long the process takes, what to expect afterward and more.
If you are thinking about having an abortion, you can utilize these resources to learn what you need to know about this course of action.
- National Abortion Federation: This site gives readers many answers to questions about abortion and the coping afterward. This site also gives you information on the state laws and ideas on what to expect.
- TeenBreaks.com: If you want to read more stories about other teenagers' experience with abortion, this site will guide you to see if your situation is similar. It helps knowing that other teens have gone through this too.
Government assistance may be needed for teens and the parents of teens facing a pregnancy. Many teens work minimum wage jobs (if at all), need to finish school, and cannot simply afford health insurance, daycare costs and supplies to raise a child. The government has agencies to help you during this time. Government programs for teenage mothers include:
- Medicaid.gov: If you don't already have health insurance, you may be able to qualify for Medicaid or other programs that provide you with access to free or low cost medical care. From the Medicaid.gov website, select your state to access the area where you will need to apply. When you apply, if you qualify, your benefits will start immediately. Do this as early as possible in your pregnancy to gain access to prenatal care right away. If you are eligible for Medicaid benefits, most of your prenatal visits will be free.
- TANF.us: Temporary Cash Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a public assistance program that helps families who need cash assistance to keep their children safe and in their home. TANF offers help with housing, work, and birth control options for after pregnancy. This site will help guide you to their benefits and will let you know if you qualify.
- Women, Infants and Children (WIC): This website provides information about the WIC nutritional program, which ensures part of the nutritional needs of a pregnant mother are met along with the nutritional needs of the baby after birth and as the child grows. WIC provides nutritional classes, breast pumps, formula, and other needs for women and their babies.
- Healthfinder.gov: If you are looking for more Human and Health Organizations for your state specifically, use the form on the website that will guide you to the health department's website for your specific region.
Pregnancy and Parenting Classes
There are so many reasons a teen needs a parenting class. Confidence to care for a newborn is gained through baby care classes and the anxiety of labor and delivery is decreased through pregnancy classes. Online classes are one route for pregnancy and parenting classes, but there are other resources for these types of classes as well.
- Teen Outreach Pregnancy Services: This website offers free teenage pregnancy and baby care classes in Arizona. Similar services are available in other states, though you'll need to do a state-specific search or ask for information from one of the other resources to determine specific availability.
- Birth & Babies: This resource offers free, online pre-baby classes that you can complete anytime, in your own home or other location where you have access to the Internet. There are also 'Just for Dad' classes. After the pregnancy, there are classes for new parents as well.
- YWCA: Many YWCA facilities offer parenting classes and other programs for pregnant teens, though availability varies by location. Most have a fee, but it is minimal and the YWCA is known to never turn anyone away because of cost. To find a location in your area, scroll to the bottom of the page and choose your state via the drop down box toward the right of the screen.
Finishing Your Education
According to STAYteen.org, pregnancy is the top reason teens drop out of high school. School sounds like an easy thing to leave behind when you have a newborn and a job, but you will likely regret later in life not having an education.
There are more options for schooling now than ever before. There is no excuse not to finish high school, and you can continue on to college as well. The school system in your area may have classes that meet your needs, or you may want to consider an online option or Graduation Equivalency Diploma (GED).
Resources for Difficult Decisions
You have many decisions to figure out while you are pregnant. This is the time to understand everything you need to know about being a teenage mother. It is not an easy journey by any means, but it is time to be mature and accept this large responsibility of parenthood. Rely on the wide variety of available resources to get the information you need to help you along your journey.