Pregnant Teen | The American Pregnancy Association
Being a pregnant teen can be overwhelming, confusing, and scary. You are not alone; there are around 500,000 pregnant teens in the USA every year. As a pregnant teen, you might be wondering how to break the news to your boyfriend and your parents, what you will choose for your pregnancy, how this will affect you finishing school, what your friends will say about you, or about how you will be able to provide for your baby.
The good news is there are resources, services, and support just for you. The first step is to begin care for your pregnancy and to seek help. Maybe you haven’t confirmed your pregnancy yet, but have missed a period or have questions about your symptoms.
Our toll-free teen pregnancy hotline, 1-800-672-2296, and chat button below are here just for you. Our pregnancy educators are ready to help you figure out you if you’re pregnant, help you get a free and confidential pregnancy test and offer you a safe place to talk about your pregnancy options.
Let’s look at what it is like being a pregnant teen, how to determine if you are pregnant, breaking the news to your boyfriend and parents (and tips on how to talk with them), making a choice for your pregnancy, resources available to you, and much more. We’ve included links to some of our other articles for more in-depth information.
Before you psych yourself out, the first thing you need to do (if you haven’t already) is to find out if you are pregnant or not. Don’t assume you are pregnant just because you missed your period. The only way to know is to take a pregnancy test. You’ll want to wait until seven day safter you miss your period to ensure an accurate result. You can purchase a urine test at your local pharmacy or retail store, or go to a local testing center for a free one. Blood tests must be done at a clinic or by your doctor. Visit our Pregnancy Symptoms or Pregnancy Tests pages for more information. Call or chat with us and we’ll help you find a free testing center. After you have a positive pregnancy test, your next step is to make sure the pregnancy is viable (possible to carry to term) and not an ectopic pregnancy or a probable miscarriage. You can do this with an ultrasound. Many of the free testing centers also offer free ultrasounds, or your doctor can perform one. If the pregnancy is viable, then you have some decisions to make (see below).
Sharing the News as a Pregnant Teen
Once you confirm the pregnancy, telling others that you are pregnant is probably going to be very difficult. However, it is crucial to do so because it is by telling people you can find support and get access to care. You can start by making a confidential toll-free call or chat to our helpline. Our pregnancy educators have been the first person someone has told many times, so please don’t hesitate to talk to us. You may also find it helpful to speak with a confidential educator at a pregnancy center or through your school nurse or counseling office. As hard as it may be, you will need to plan on sharing the news with at least one of your parents. Because you are probably still living at home or still financially dependent on your parent(s), they will likely be the one(s) helping and supporting you in whatever decision you make for your pregnancy.
Talking to your parents
Most pregnant teens are scared to share the news with their family. We have a few suggestions on breaking the news to your parent(s):
Realize that this was probably not their plan for their teenage daughter; try not to be defensive about how you ended up in this situation. If you are humble and apologize for disobeying their rules/expectations, then you and your parents may be able to start with a cleaner slate.
Your parent(s) are undoubtedly going to ask you who the father is, and they are going to want to know if he plans to help you care for a child. If you have a relationship with the baby’s father and would like to continue it, ask him what he thinks/how he feels so that you can have an answer for your parent(s), as well as for yourself.
Most parents will consider a teen pregnancy irresponsible; so, show them that you are taking responsibility for your actions by coming up with a plan. These plans don’t have to be set in stone but make sure you have concrete ideas about prenatal care, how you will provide (jobs), if/how you plan to finish school, child care, where you will live, and the list goes on. This shows them that you are thinking ahead and behaving responsibly.
Your parents may have an idea about what choice they think you should make for your pregnancy. Remember that ultimately, it is up to you. If you’ve already made your decision, let them know. However, don’t be afraid to discuss with them as to why you’ve chosen what you did (they are going to want to hear your reasons anyway).
Your parent(s) may bring up some points that you had not thought about, so be prepared to LISTEN, too!
Don’t roll your eyes, storm off, or tune them out! They have been through at least one pregnancy before (you) and undoubtedly have some helpful information and wise insights to share with you.
Try not to set your expectations too high or too low. Not every “I’m pregnant” talk with parents is going to go well, and not all of them are going to go badly. Remember, you won’t know precisely how they’ll react until you break the news (even if you say that you’re sure of it). Some parents will be angry at first, but loosen up when it gets time for them to meet their grandson or granddaughter. Plus, they’re going to find out eventually because it’s quite challenging to hide in the second half of pregnancy. If you wait until then to tell them and get care, that can be dangerous for you and the baby.
As a first time pregnant teen, this will be the first time you have this talk with your parents. More than likely, this is their first time to talk about teen pregnancy as well.
Talking to your boyfriend
As a newly confirmed pregnant teen, you might also be wondering how to talk to your boyfriend. It’s possible you’ve already been talking to him about the possibility, or you are going to take a test with him present. If you take one on your own, here are some suggestions on how to tell him. We’ve also included thoughts on how to talk about what you (and he) wish for the pregnancy. As a pregnant teen, this is probably your first pregnancy. Remember, this is most likely his first time as well. Don’t forget to ask his opinion too – ultimately, the decision is yours, but the choice you make here could make or break your relationship. The baby does have half his DNA too!
Try to break the news as calmly as possible in person and not over a phone call or text (if you are long-distance, then a video call might be a better option). If you aren’t sure of what his reaction will be, it might be helpful to have the conversation in a public place but make it a place that both of you feel comfortable.
Many guys will face some denial about the situation initially. It might be a good idea to either bring the positive pregnancy test/results with you if you took one on your own, or to bring a new test and offer to take with him present. This way, he can see immediate proof.
He may need a few minutes to process what you’re telling him. You can take this time to explain what you are thinking or feeling about the situation, or you can give him some time to think in silence.
Don’t assume that he already knew that pregnancy was on the table – he might not have had any clue at all. Try not to hold this against him, as he might not have noticed anything different.
Try to keep calm throughout the whole conversation. He’s the one getting hit with big news at this moment, he may not be as emotionally controlled. (That doesn’t excuse any bad behavior or attitude he might have, but it may explain some of it.)
Don’t throw the blame all on him (unless intercourse was forced – in which case please talk to your parents and the police) – you both made the adult decision to have sex, and thus both of you are now facing the consequences. Try not to be defensive either, as that never helps a conversation go better.
Try to be as clear as possible when you explain what you’re thinking or feeling about the pregnancy. What choice for the pregnancy are you leaning toward? Why? Have you told your parents? When did conception likely occur? Vagueness can lead to misunderstandings and then arguments, so avoid that if possible.
Talking and decisions about the future of your relationship or the possibility of parenting together may not happen in this initial conversation. You both may be too full of emotion and shock to be able to make educated, long-term decisions at the moment. Don’t feel pressured to get all your plans finalized in this one conversation, and don’t pressure him to decide what he wants right away.
If the situation escalates and you fear for your safety or for his safety, excuse yourself and take some time to calm down or to let him settle his emotions. Don’t leave without an explanation; let him know that you’d like to continue the conversation later when you both are at a better emotional level.
You are more than likely a pregnant teen for the first time, and the same goes for him as well. If your relationship has been around for a while and you both know each other’s parents, you may want to plan a family meeting after you initially share the news with your boyfriend. Ideally, you both would have already made a decision about the pregnancy and about your relationship (how it will continue or if it will not).
Pregnancy Decisions as a Pregnant Teen
It is quite possible that you are questioning what to do with this pregnancy. Will you carry the baby to term, consider adoption, or look at termination through an abortion procedure? The first thing to remember is that it is your pregnancy – no one should pressure you into anything. Whether it is a parent, friends, your boyfriend, or some other person/group, no one should make you feel that you have to make the decision they want you to make. The options are there whether anyone tells you about them or not. You may find someone who tells you that you are a horrible person if you abort, and that is not true. You may get someone else who tells you that it is only a blob of tissue, which isn’t true either, with the heart starting to beat by day 21. There have been studies showing that a majority of women who get abortions feel that they didn’t have enough information to make an informed choice for their pregnancy. It is important to know all the resources available to you – without being aware of these, you may falsely think that there is no help for someone in your position.
Embrace Grace is a judgement-free support group organization developed to help young people with unplanned pregnancies. There’s probably one near you.
Choice 1: Parenting
You’re young, might not have a job yet or have graduated from high school, but that does not mean that you have no chance as a parent. Parenting can be very challenging but also extremely rewarding. There are many successful teen moms whose children grow up happily and normally. There are a lot of programs that can help you get on your feet and provide for a child, such as Medicaid for prenatal care, WIC for help eating healthy and for baby formula/breastfeeding assistance, food stamps to help you keep food on the table, housing assistance to bring your living expenses down, and much more. Here are a few topics on parenting that you may find helpful:
different types of parenting
how to be a single parent
things you need as you prepare for your due date
With parenting, you’ll have to speak to your boyfriend and your family about what this will look like. Will your boyfriend, help you raise the child, or will you have to pursue child support? Will you be able to stay with your parents or have to get your place? There’s a lot to think about when considering parenthood, but it is possible to sort through all these questions. Check out our Issues & Challenges article to learn more about the journey through pregnancy.
Choice 2: Adoption
There is also the option for adoption. Many teenagers feel that they cannot give a child the life they desire for them, and that is where adoption comes in. There are a lot of couples that are in a more stable time in life that are not able to parent children for one reason or another who desperately want a child. You could help make that a reality for these hopeful parents! Plus, the adoption agency or adopting family will typically cover the medical costs of your pregnancy. You have the option to keep in contact with the adoptive family, or to go through the adoption anonymously. Here are some other topics you might find useful:
adoption in the eyes of the birth parent(s)
questions to ask yourself when considering adoption
different types of adoption
financial help with adoption
And much more here.
We also encourage you to sit down with an adoption agency or professional to get a better idea of what adoption might look like for you.
Choice 3: Abortion
Abortion is the process of terminating a pregnancy. Depending on the age of the baby, there are different procedures available to you through medical or surgical abortions. Many women who choose abortion do so because they do not feel like there is any other option for their pregnancy. We encourage you to never decide out of fear, or because you feel forced to because of your situation or people around you! Before you choose, learn more about the options and resources that are available.
Remember that if you are a minor, you may need your parents to sign off on an abortion procedure. Contact a teen pregnancy center in your area to find out more about the laws in your state.
Help for a Pregnant Teen
As we noted earlier, there are approximately 500,000 new pregnant teenagers every year, meaning there is a need for specialized care. You may not know it, but there are usually school programs for pregnant teens allowing you to finish school. There are maternity homes just for teenagers to have a special place to get away and receive care, especially if there are any problems at home.
Abortion used to be the number one option selected by teenagers, but more and more young women are discovering that they can overcome the odds and succeed, either as a parent or through adoption. It is not easy, but there is help, resources, and support specifically for pregnant teens. You have to start somewhere to find what is available to you! That is why we suggest visiting a pregnancy center, talking to your parents, or calling our helpline so that you have an idea of a good next step toward choosing your pregnancy, or so that you can get information about helpful resources.
Prevention and Statistics
Though teen pregnancy rates in the United States have steadily dropped since 1991 and are now at record lows (reaching a new record low each year since 2009), they are still higher than the rates in many other developed countries. The latest data from the CDC revealed an average of 22.3 births per 1000 females (age 15-19) in 2015. It is important to remember that this number does not include aborted babies and pregnancy losses, and thus, the pregnancy rate (vs. birth rate) is higher than 22.3/1000. Around 30% of teen pregnancies end in abortion. Some people have postulated that increased availability of abortions is to blame for fewer births from teen pregnancies, but the abortion rates have stayed relatively the same. Many researchers believe that access to birth control/contraception is the reason for this drop in teen pregnancies. Don’t want to be a pregnant teen? Whether that means condoms, education about ovulation/fertility, or hormonal birth control, no method is 100% effective at preventing pregnancy and/or preventing the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The only entirely effective way to avoid pregnancy and diseases is to abstain from sexual intercourse and contact (abstinence). For more information on birth control and natural family planning, please check out the topics below:
Natural family planning (NFP)/fertility awareness
Male condoms and female condoms
Cervical cap and diaphragm
Hormonal birth control:
intrauterine device (IUD)
Non-hormonal copper IUD
Emergency contraceptives/”morning after” pill
Hormonal birth control (including the morning after pill) works in three different ways: (1) prevents ovulation/release of egg, (2) thickens cervical mucus, making it more difficult for sperm to travel through to reach an egg, and (3) makes implantation of a fertilized egg difficult by thinning the uterine lining. Ethical considerations mostly come into play with the third action – with the belief that life begins at conception, hormonal birth control technically could terminate a pregnancy in its earliest stages. So, as you make your choices about how to prevent pregnancy, consider these actions.
Want to Know More?
Teen Pregnancy Challenges
Healthy Teen Pregnancy
Week-By-Week Pregnancy E-Newsletter.
Compiled using information from the following sources:
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): NCHS Data Briefing “Continued Declines in Teen Births in the United States, 2015.”
Pregnant and parenting teens often face challenges balancing their school, work, and home lives with being a new parent. Teen parents are at increased risk for dropping out of school, unemployment, poverty, mental health issues, and child care concerns. Ensuring that adolescent parents receive adequate social, emotional, medical, and academic support is essential to the parent and the baby’s future. On this page, find information on expectant and parenting teens in out-of-home care and ways to support them. Resources include State and local examples.
Addressing the Needs of Pregnant and Parenting Youth in Foster Care: A Primer on Interagency Collaboration for Children’s Bureau Grantees
Capacity Building Center for States (2019)
Explains the services offered to pregnant and parenting youth in out-of-home care by the John H. Chafee Foster Care Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood and the Adolescent Pregnancy and Parenting Program. This tip sheet provides strategies for using both programs together to improve outcomes for pregnant and parenting youth in out-of-home care.
Challenges, Benefits Found in Providing Home Visiting Services for Pregnant and Parenting Foster Youth
Chapin Hall (2021)
Presents the results of a study that shows adolescent parents in foster care needing additional support, and one way to provide this support is through community-based home visiting programs. Outcomes from these interventions show positive effects in the areas of parent-child attachment, child and maternal health and development, parenting skills, and social support.
Connecting the Dots: A Resource Guide for Meeting the Needs of Expectant and Parenting Youth, Their Children, and Their Families
Center for the Study of Social Policy (2019)
Offers information on interventions and services for expectant and parenting youth involved with the child welfare system to help improve parent and child well-being outcomes.
Helping Teen Parents and Their Children Build Healthy Futures
HealthyChildren. org (2017)
Discusses teen parenting, including how to prepare teens for parenthood, the importance of getting young fathers involved, what to expect in the future, and more.
Leveraging the Family First Prevention Services Act for Older Youth: Prevention Provisions
American Bar Association (2019)
Explains provisions of the Family First Prevention Services Act that will impact older youth, including the use of title IV-E funds to provide services to youth in foster care who are pregnant or parenting.
What Are Some Strategies for Supporting Pregnant and Parenting Teens in Foster Care?
Casey Family Programs (2018)
Examines challenges faced by child welfare agencies that are working with pregnant and parenting teens in foster care and discusses effective programs for this population that aim to ensure the healthy development of the teen parent and the child.
When Your Teen is Having a Baby
Provides information for parents whose teens are pregnant or recently became parents. The website includes information on what parents may be feeling, what teens may be feeling, and special considerations for pregnant teens.
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For Young Parents
Shares information on the education and medical rights of pregnant and parenting teens in North Carolina who are currently in school. The resource also offers information on where teen parents can access support resources such as, finding child care, finding support groups, financial benefits, and recommendations to stay healthy.
Overview of Policies and Considerations for Case Managers Working With Foster Youth Who Are Parenting
Florida Institute for Child Welfare
Presents a guide for child welfare caseworkers in Florida on working with pregnant or parenting youth who are transitioning out of the foster care system.
Highlights the Parent Connection program in Wisconsin designed to support teen parents and their children that offers the following programs, Parents as Teachers for teen parents, teen parent mentoring program, fatherhood programs, and young parent group and workshops.
Pregnant and Parenting Youth
Washington State Department of Children, Youth & Families (2019)
Provides guidance to child welfare workers engaged with expectant or parenting teens to ensure a successful transition to adulthood.
Providing Home Visiting to Parents in Care: The Illinois Pregnant and Parenting Youth in Care Home Visiting Pilot Experience
Children’s Home & Aid
Describes a home visiting program in Illinois that serves pregnant and parenting youth in care and links to a full report on the outcomes of the pilot program.
Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services
Offers information on supports for pregnant and parenting teens, especially those involved with child welfare services, in L.A. County, California.
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A pregnant wife: instructions for her husband
During pregnancy, new processes begin to occur in a woman's body, often incomprehensible to both spouses.
Emotions, appetite, dizziness, changes in bodily sensations... Of course, all this affects relationships in the family. Husbands experience extreme stress and often do not know what to do - as if their wife had been replaced.
Of course, much in a relationship during pregnancy depends on how desirable the unborn child is. And on how the couple knows how to express their love for each other.
Communication with a pregnant wife requires special understanding, patience, and knowledge of the situation. To facilitate communication, we offer the husband some tips to help him get through this difficult period without loss.
Try to understand what cannot be experienced by yourself
It is not physically possible for a man to feel what is happening to a woman. Talk to your wife about things that she feels are bothering her. This will allow you to understand it better. Yes, you do not feel the same, but you are actively involved, you are there. You are one hundred percent in the process. A man can simply sympathize and provide comfort. Knowing that a husband is worried about his wife is very important. This will give her strength and calmness.
Take on more household chores
Listen to your wife's wishes. Any. Household or even requests for small things. Take out the trash, hang up laundry after washing, take over the washing of dishes or finally install a dishwasher. Any help is important, this is a real manifestation of care and love. Even if you were brought up with the understanding that there are “male” and “female” jobs in the house, you will have to break the stereotype. Take into account that such times are already in the past, when women did not work, but took care of the house. In a modern society, where both men and women work equally, it is also customary to share responsibilities, and even more so in such a difficult period for a woman.
Take care of your wife and fulfill all her "whims"
It may seem to you that your wife has turned into a terrible shrew and asks for the impossible. This is not so, in the body of a woman during this period, hormones made a real mess, hence the strange behavior, habits, requests. Believe me, your wife does not mock you. And if she wanted peaches in the middle of the night in winter, then run headlong through all the supermarkets in search of what she wants. All the same, she will not let you fall asleep and will throw a tantrum. Because it is very important for her, no matter how strange her request may seem to you. It is likely that she herself will then be surprised by her behavior.
If she asks you not to wear cologne, hide it away. Does she no longer like your beard? Shave without regrets. If she does not want intimacy, then she will have to put up with it. Not always women experience pleasant sensations from sex during pregnancy. Do not rush her, be affectionate and gentle and she herself will seduce you if she wants to.
A woman's legs get very tired during pregnancy. Still, the weight is growing, the blood vessels of the legs are compressed under the weight of the fetus, and the ankles are also swollen. Give her a foot massage with lavender and peppermint oils before bed. This will relieve tension before going to bed and relax a woman. Your wife will be grateful to you. Offer to help with everything, even if you need to shampoo and blow dry your hair.
Trust your wife and don't give too much advice
Often men give advice to their wife that they once heard from their mother. When showing concern about the state of pregnancy, it is important for a husband to use any information in moderation. Even doctor's advice may not always be appropriate. Believe me, a woman feels better what exactly she needs at this particular moment - women's instincts are perfectly developed. And the information from your mother may no longer be relevant, even worse, it will irritate your wife. It is better to read the popular modern literature on this topic yourself and invite her to discuss the book together.
"Filter" the environment and external information
Try to protect your wife from negativity during this period. These can be people who are unpleasant to her (even from among relatives), violent films and programs, discussions of unsuccessful pregnancy and childbirth on Internet forums.
A woman is too receptive at this time and can think up a lot of unnecessary things, and people unpleasant to her will cause her stress. Better bring her more good videos about children, animals and happy love. Come up with reasons for her why she can't go to the birthday party of a cousin she can't stand cannot.
A woman is now like a fragile vase, fill it only with soft toys and sweets and make sure that needles do not accidentally fall into it.
Maintain love, make efforts
After a certain period of time - usually from a year to three - the feeling of love sharply declines. Even the wife's pregnancy does not save. Therefore, a man's initiative is needed. Support love with your actions. It is important to understand that it depends on you whether the love fire will be maintained or whether it will die out. And remember that a child is the result of love. Show love, do not accumulate omissions and resentment. Move on to the next level.
Everything will work out if you consciously go through this difficult but amazing period of pregnancy. And it is best to experience it together with your beloved wife, without standing aside.
Memo for a pregnant woman
Memo for a pregnant woman about actions in case of influenza, acute respiratory infection, new coronavirus infection COVID-19
Influenza - acute infectious disease. The duration of the incubation period for influenza is from several hours to 7 days, most often 2-3 days.
The disease begins acutely with a sharp increase in body temperature up to 38°C and above and severe symptoms of intoxication (chills, headache, joint pain, pain in the muscles and when moving the eyeballs). Further (sometimes after a few days), symptoms of respiratory tract damage (dryness of the mucous membranes of the nose and mouth, sore throat, chest pain, dry cough, shortness of breath) join. With the flu, there may be symptoms of an upset gastrointestinal tract: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.
The new coronavirus infection COVID-19 often has the same symptoms as the flu. Unlike influenza, the incubation period for this infection ranges from 2 to 14 days, with an average of days. In the initial stages of the disease, smell and taste may disappear, catarrhal symptoms are mild, most patients report severe weakness, shortness of breath, dry cough without sputum. Gastrointestinal disorders are common with COVID-19.
Pregnant women, the elderly and debilitated, and young children are at high risk for severe and complicated forms of influenza. In them, the disease often has a very rapid (within a few hours) development of the disease. With the new coronavirus infection COVID-19, pregnant women are also prone to severe forms, but the course of this infection in children can be very mild and asymptomatic.
It should be remembered that self-treatment or late referral to specialized medical care leads to the development of severe life-threatening complications.
In the absence of timely treatment, a pregnant woman is at risk of developing complications from the lungs, kidneys, heart and brain, premature birth, thrombosis and thromboembolism, placental abruption, preeclampsia and other obstetric complications. Intrauterine infection of the fetus with the influenza virus in the early stages can lead to developmental abnormalities or miscarriage, in the later stages - to intrauterine death of the fetus, death of a newborn child after birth or the development of serious illnesses in him. The effect of the novel coronavirus infection on the fetus has not yet been studied.
The Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation has developed effective regimens for the treatment of influenza and the new coronavirus infection COVID-19 in pregnant women with safe drugs that are selected individually by a doctor, so do not self-medicate!
When to see a doctor immediately:
1. Sudden onset of the disease: fever up to 38°C or more, muscle pain, joint pain, headache, severe weakness.
2. Cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, chest pain, runny nose. Especially dangerous cough with streaks of blood in the sputum!
3. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.
4. Pain in the abdomen, increased or decreased blood pressure, bleeding from the genital tract of any intensity, discharge of amniotic fluid, changes in fetal movements (violent or weak).
If you fall ill, you should immediately contact the reception of the territorial clinic or call an ambulance at home and be sure to inform your local obstetrician-gynecologist of the antenatal clinic about the disease by phone.
If you are offered hospitalization, do not refuse hospital treatment. Treatment at home does not allow timely detection of complications and monitoring the development and condition of the fetus. In case of an acute infectious disease, you should not visit a polyclinic or a antenatal clinic on your own - medical care will be organized for you by visiting teams of medical workers.
If you have had contact with someone who has the flu or COVID-19, you should consult with the local general practitioner as soon as possible and inform the local obstetrician-gynecologist about this in order to prescribe preventive measures.
Follow the measures to prevent infection with influenza and the new coronavirus infection COVID-19: stay at home in self-isolation, do not visit public places (mass events, entertainment centers, shops, pharmacies, hospitals, etc.) unless absolutely necessary.
If you have sick relatives at home, especially small children and the elderly, do not delay seeking medical help. Try to completely isolate yourself from them or have as little contact with the sick person as possible. Wear and change individual disposable medical masks every 2 hours, wash your hands often with soap and treat them with an antiseptic, ventilate the room. Wet cleaning of the premises is required at least 2 times a day.