At Westchester Health, we want you to know that we care about you and will support whatever choices you make regarding your pregnancy. With no judgments, we’ll help you work through the pros and cons of each option. Whatever action you decide to take, we’re here for you with information, advice, referrals and prenatal healthcare. For some important information regarding your choices, we recommend this blog by Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician with our Westchester Health Pediatrics group (excerpted below).
First, make sure you’re pregnant
Usually, the way to tell if you’re pregnant is that you miss a period and/or you get a positive result on a home pregnancy test. Although a home test is generally accurate, it isn’t as reliable as the laboratory blood test that doctors can perform. Even if you’re sure you’re pregnant, we urge you to come in and see us to confirm it. If it’s positive, together we can talk about where to go from there.
If the pregnancy is unplanned
If it’s any comfort, you’re not alone—around 500,000 teenage girls get pregnant every year in the U.S. Having said that, the first thing you need to decide is whether you’re going to keep the baby, have an abortion, or give it up for adoption. As you know, these are all big, life-changing decisions you’ll have to make. But please know that we’re here for you, every step of the way.
At Westchester Health, we have years of experience helping teens deal with a pregnancy and all the decisions that come along with it. To learn about all the other services we offer teens to help them make good decisions and stay healthy, click here.
What you discuss with us stays with us
We also want you to know that we will keep whatever you say to us about your pregnancy confidential. Most of all, we want you (and your baby, if you decide to keep it) to be healthy and happy.
If you decide to keep your baby, it’s very important to get prenatal care
Many teenage girls keep their pregnancy a secret as long as possible. Others deny that they’re pregnant, or hope that it will just somehow go away. As a result, they often don’t get any prenatal care during the crucial early months of their baby’s development, which can lead to health problems later on for them and their baby. That’s why it’s very important to come in for prenatal tests, nutrition advice and many other pregnancy-related services.
Important things you need to do to keep yourself healthy and give your baby the best start in life:
From Planned Parenthood:
- Avoid junk food (like greasy burgers and fries, chips, candy bars and sugary soda)
- Take prenatal vitamins
- Don’t smoke. If you smoke, you need to quit for the health of your baby. Smoking during pregnancy has been shown to cause lower birth weight and for babies to be born prematurely. Click here for a blog about the effects smoking has on children.
- Don’t use drugs or alcohol. Both of these can be very damaging to your unborn child. If you think you might be addicted to drugs or alcohol, ask us about counseling and treatment programs to help you quit.
- Only take the medicines your doctor prescribes. Make sure we know about any over-the-counter (OTC) medicines you are taking.
If you are pregnant before age 15 or if you don’t get prenatal care, there are some major risks:
We can’t stress enough how important prenatal care is, for you and your baby. Here are some risks to keep in mind, from the American Pregnancy Association:
- low birth weight/premature birth
- anemia (low iron levels)
- high blood pressure (can lead to preeclampsia, a potentially fatal health condition)
- a higher rate of infant mortality
- the baby’s head is wider than your pelvic opening (might require a Caesarean section)
- a greater risk of SIDS (read this blog)
Telling your parents
If you need us to help you through this very emotional and stressful time, we’re here to support you. If you want us to help you tell your parents, we’re available to do that.
Need help? Call these numbers
- American Pregnancy Helpline: 866-942-6466
- Baby Safe Haven: 888-510-2229
- Crisis Call Center: 800-273-8255 or text ANSWER to 839863
- Planned Parenthood: 800-230-7526
- TeenLine: 800-852-8336 or text TEEN to 839863
For more information and guidance, we recommend these websites:
- Thursday’s Child: helping children, teens and young adults
- Baby Safe Haven: Safe Haven Infant Protection Laws enable a person to give up an unwanted infant anonymously
- TeenLine: hotline
- Planned Parenthood
- Crisis Call Center: hotline
- American Pregnancy Helpline: hotline
Need to talk to someone about your pregnancy? Come see us.
If you’re pregnant or think you are, please come in and talk with one of our Westchester Health pediatricians. We’re here for you with support, advice and a listening ear…whatever you need. We’ll do everything we can while you’re going this and help you arrive at a resolution that’s best for you. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.
To read Dr. Adler’s blog in full, click here.