Pregnancy - options
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If you are a young person and unexpectedly pregnant, the news can come as a shock. A young woman might think, why me? She may fear her parent's reaction. She may feel very much alone, and feel fear, shame, anger, sadness and despair.
When a pregnancy is planned and wanted it is usually a happy event. If you are a young person and unexpectedly pregnant, the news can come as a shock. A young woman might think, why me? She may fear her parent's reaction. She may feel very much alone, and feel fear, shame, anger, sadness and despair. She may deny, even to herself, that she is really pregnant, and not do anything about it. A young man might fear parental reactions, feel helpless or may feel pushed aside.
Ignoring the possibility of pregnancy can reduce choices and the medical care needed. It's a time when a young person really needs a trusted adult or close friend to turn to and women shouldn't have to make decisions without support.
There is information about pregnancy, staying well and childbirth on the Pregnancy part of this site.
If you recently had unprotected sex and want to prevent an unwanted pregnancy contact your doctor or pharmacist (chemist) as soon as possible. In some countries, including Australia, emergency contraceptive pills (ECP) are available that work to stop a pregnancy. These pills need to be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex. They are very effective if taken within 24 hours after unprotected sex and may be effective if taken within 5 days. See the topic Emergency contraceptive pills (ECP)
The first sign of pregnancy is usually a missed period or a very short, light period. Other signs are tenderness or tingling in the breasts or feeling sick. You could find you need to pass urine more often than usual.
You can have a pregnancy test done as soon as you miss your period. Some tests can detect pregnancy on the first day of the missed period, others from seven to ten days after intercourse. In many countries, including Australia, pregnancy testing kits are available from chemists/pharmacies, supermarkets and some community and youth health services. You can also have a blood or urine test done by your doctor.
There is more information in the topic Confirming your pregnancy.
Options: what to do
If the pregnancy is a shock for you, making choices about what to do might be difficult for some and straightforward for other women and getting accurate information is the best way to help you make the right choice for you.. Other people could try to press their values and beliefs on you and pressure you into a choice that isn't right for you. Don't try to please others - only you know what is right for you.
For more information go to the topic Pregnancy Options - Counselling
Going ahead with the pregnancy
- If you decide to continue with the pregnancy, it is important to get good antenatal care - the sooner you’re having good care the better for you and the baby. A doctor or health worker can give you information e about your diet and health and the baby's health.
- Have a look at the topics in the section Care choices and in the section Staying well.
Adoption or fostering
Some young people decide to continue with the pregnancy and have their baby adopted or fostered. In most countries there are agencies or services who can help you arrange this. Adoption is a permanent arrangement and it is important to have some counselling before you make this choice. Adoption can be a good choice if you yourself do not feel ready or able to be a parent, but sometimes mothers later deeply regret parting with their babies. See Adoption and foster care.
Parenthood - single or together?
If you decide to go ahead with the pregnancy and become a parent, there are many things to consider. Will you parent together with your partner or alone? Here are some possible options.
- Parent a child by yourself
- Get married and share parenting
- Live together and share parenting
- Share parenting while living separately
- Live with your parents or close family members who might be able to support you with parenting
It can be really helpful to discuss your options with a counsellor to work out what might work best for you.
Also have a look at the topic Single parenting.
Abortion (termination of pregnancy)
About half of all women in Australia will have an unplanned pregnancy, and 1 in 3 women will choose to have an abortion. While many women are clear that an abortion is the best choice for them, for others it can be a complex and difficult decision.
A decision to have a pregnancy termination (an abortion) is commonly made early in the pregnancy, preferably before 12 weeks of pregnancy, however an abortion is still safely available beyond 12 weeks It's recommended that you obtain support and information to explore the options to assist you to make the best choice for you.
For more information have a look at Termination of pregnancy (abortion).
There is more information about abortion and other pregnancy options on the website of the Pregnancy Advisory Centre
Telling your parents about a pregnancy
It can be pretty scary figuring out how to tell your parents about a pregnancy. The way you tell them will depend a lot on the relationship you already have with them. Sometimes your imagination about how they will react is worse than the reality. Often parents are very supportive.
Some people find it easier to tell one parent first, then the other. Others may want to tell a trusted family friend or relative first and ask that person for support in telling their parents. Others might want to tell their parents with the family doctor or another health worker present. This would mean setting up an appointment with the worker and getting parents to come along.
Give your parents time to get used to the idea and for them to think about it. It was probably a shock for you at first, but you've had some time to get used to the idea and have probably done some pretty heavy thinking. Their reactions may differ over time as they get used to the idea.
I was sixteen, I was so nervous. The ol' man wasn't home, thank god! I couldn't have told him. I walked in the kitchen and came right out with it, "Mum, I'm pregnant." She laughed and laughed - she thought I was joking, and then she must have seen the look on my face because she stopped laughing and said, "You're not joking are you?" Thinking back I s'pose she was shocked. Anyway, Mum later told Dad.
Sian, 19 years
There is more information about "how to tell Mum and Dad I’m pregnant" on the following website
Whatever you do decide to do, there are people who can help. Turn to someone you trust, a friend or a relative, or contact one of the services below.
- Pregnancy Advisory Centre
21 Belmore Terrace Woodville Park
Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm for an appointment
8243 3999 or Free Call 1800 672 966 for country callers in South Australia
- The Second Story Youth Health Service (TSS) runs programs for young mothers
- Central: 57 Hyde St, Adelaide
- South: 50a Beach Rd, Christies Beach
- North: 6 Gillingham Rd, Elizabeth
- Youth Healthline
Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm: 1300 13 17 19
- Shine SA (Sexual Health information, networking and education, South Australia
Sexual Healthline: 9am to 1pm Monday to Friday: 1300 883 793
Country callers 1800 188 171
- Shopfront Primary Healthcare Services - telephone (08) 8281 1775
Shopfront can provide pregnancy testing as well as a counselling service.
- Department of Families and Communities Adoption Service
Telephone (08) 8207 0060.
- Families SA - families and young people telephone (08) 8226 7000
- Pregnancy Advisory Centre - supporting women with unplanned pregnancy.
Telephone (08) 8243 3999 (1800 672 966 country callers)
- Your family doctor.
- Your local hospital.
- Community Health Centres - check for your local service in your telephone book - they can help with pregnancy testing, advice and relationship counselling.
The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Youth Healthline on 1300 13 17 19 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).
- Young mums in the north of Adelaide get together regularly at The Second Story Youth Health Service. This group made some short movies telling their stories from their perspective. You can watch the movies for free here: