Today we live in a beautifully permissive society which embraces and accepts the vast majority of people for who and what they are. A hundred years ago this wasn’t the case, there were lots of people who suffered stigma, ridicule and outright social isolation if they strayed outside of societal norms. For example: divorce, pregnancy outside of wedlock, suffering from venereal disease, passing off someone else’s child as their own, secretly allowing your child to be adopted to avoid people knowing that you’ve been pregnant. Can you imagine having to hide from all of that these days? It’s very difficult indeed to imagine, we’ve come so far from those days.
I’m 14 and I think I might be pregnant.
First things first – don’t panic. Have you had unprotected sex? Has your contraception failed? It’s more easily said than done, but a positive pregnancy test at a young ago doesn’t spell disaster. You have options open to you and there are plenty of health professionals to help and guide you, so even if you feel that you can’t tell family or friends you will still have robust support in place. So it’s important to realise that this IS something that you have control over. It doesn’t need to be something that becomes wildly uncontrollable. That’s the most important thing to know. Pregnancy tests these days can pick up a pregnancy from very early on, which gives you a solid block of time to find out if you are actually pregnant. There are many reasons why you might have missed a period, or even a few periods, so don’t jump to conclusions. If you think that you are showing symptoms, here are the most usual ones:
- -Sickness. Often called ‘morning sickness’, it’s actually nausea/vomiting that can happen at any time of the day or night.
- -Tiredness. Pregnancy is tiring for your body so lots of women find that they’re sleeping more than normal.
- -Aversion to certain smells, tastes and food. This is a well-recognised symptom and the aversions will be different from person to person. Some may not be able to stand the smell of coffee, for example, whereas for others it might be the taste of tomatoes. It can be anything and everything.
- -Being more emotional than normal. Your hormones go wild during pregnancy meaning that you feel up and down and might find yourself crying more than usual.
If you recognise one or more of these symptoms, then it might be time to take a test.
Which pregnancy test should I use?
There are loads out there on the market, different brands and different strengths and different ways of displaying the result. There are ones that are designed to give you a positive super early, up to 6 days before a missed period, early response ones that give you a result from the day of your missed period and ones that aren’t so sensitive. You can buy very cheap tests online, but these aren’t always the most accurate. Tests from chemists and supermarkets vary in price from around £10 each to just a couple of pounds and theoretically there should be no difference in quality. You can buy digital ones that display ‘Pregnant/Not pregnant’, and the others tend to show two lines if you are pregnant and just one line if you’re not. Some come in packs of two and that’s probably a good idea so you know for sure.
It’s turned positive, what should I do?
Do NOT panic. It’s a good idea to repeat the test (hence buying a pack of two), just in case you have a faulty one. Then ideally find someone to talk to, a close friend or family member, or a professional if you prefer, just head along to your nearest sexual health clinic, or make an appointment with your GP who will be able to guide you from here.
There are specialist clinics set up for young mums so you won’t need to feel out of place by being with older women. Being pregnant at such a young age means that you will be asked certain questions, like whether you understood the consequences of having unprotected sex, asking about contraception and they might ask whether the sex was consensual. It might be a bit of a private question, but lots of young girls do feel pressured into having sex, especially with older men. If this has happened to you there’s no shame in it, and talking about it will help you come to terms with your feelings.
I don’t want to keep the pregnancy, what happens now?
There are various termination options for you. You can have a surgical removal under general anaesthetic, this is the easiest and quickest way to terminate a pregnancy. Or you can take some pills that will make you bleed and pass the pregnancy. It depends how far along in the pregnancy you are as to what you can choose, but there will be experienced, supportive doctors and nurses who will look after you.
I want to keep the baby, what do I do now?
Keeping a pregnancy when you’re very young is a huge decision to make. Things to take into account include:
- -Your body possibly not being physically ready to carry a full term pregnancy.
- -The impact it will have on your schooling and future career aspirations.
- -How supportive your family will be, because you are going to need a stable home life to bring up a child.
- -The social side of things. You may have plenty of friends, but some may not understand your new circumstances and drift away – which is extremely hurtful.
That said, if you’re certain that you want to keep the baby, then there are ALWAYS ways of doing it, so don’t let anyone change your mind if you’ve made the final decision. You’ll need to take a trip to your GP to register the pregnancy and be referred to the midwife. There will be a specially trained midwife who looks after teenage parents-to-be so you’ll definitely be in safe, supportive hands.
And once the baby has arrived, make sure that you have proper contraception in place, either hormonally with the pill/implant/Mirena coil, or barrier methods like condoms. But you’ll be counselled after birth to discuss all of this, you won’t have to decide important things like this alone.