Teen Pregnancy

What can I expect if my teen is pregnant?

“I’m having a baby.” Over one million unmarried teens in this country say these words each year. If you find that your teen is pregnant, you may have some very strong emotions. You will probably feel angry, disappointed, and may grieve the dreams you had for your child. The important thing to know is that your teen needs you now more than ever. Your teen needs your love, support, and advice.

Most unmarried teens don’t plan on getting pregnant, and they are usually scared when it happens. Your teen may keep the pregnancy secret because he or she fears your anger and disappointment. When a teen gets pregnant, many parents blame themselves. It does not do any good to place blame. Your teen needs to get some good advice from people he or she can trust. There are many important decisions to make.

How can I help my child?

  • Help your teen feel safe enough to discuss hopes and fears. Don’t overreact. Try to stay calm and not act disgusted or angry.
  • Do not talk negatively about the boyfriend or girlfriend in front of your teen. Your child may feel the need to protect the person and shut you out.
  • Give information about the kinds of choices your teen has and talk through the results of each choice. Let your teen decide and support his or her choice.
  • Help your teen accept responsibility for the decision and act on his or her decisions.

A pregnant teen has 3 choices to consider.

  • Place the baby for adoption. Counselors can help talk through the options of an open or closed adoption. A closed adoption means that the birth parents and adopting parents don’t know each other. Records are kept sealed. In an open adoption, the birth parents can meet and approve of the adopting parents. Birth parents may even want to share in the raising of the child.
  • Have a termination of the pregnancy (also called a top or an abortion). Your daughter has the right to decide what she wants to do with her pregnancy. However, in many states the parents must either be notified or give consent for an abortion. A counselor may help you both in calmly discussing this option.
  • Raise the child. Counselors can help pregnant teens face the reality of parenthood, not the fantasy. Teen girls may get pregnant to hold onto a boyfriend, or to have something of their own to love. They do not think about the daily tasks of parenting such as dirty diapers, infants crying at night, and the loss of freedom. Teen boys who are going to become fathers also need advice and support. Although some boys want to be involved with their children, others feel scared and guilty. The father is legally responsible for child support in every state. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should pressure your teen into an unwanted marriage.

It may be helpful to have pregnant teens talk with a counselor who can help them think through all the pros and cons of each option. There is no one best solution.

Often, teens who get pregnant drop out of school. Your teen needs to be supported to stay in school. Some schools provide a school for teen mothers, where childcare is also offered. Finishing school or getting job training will help your teen to have a better job in the future, and be able to support the child.

Today there is less shame in being a teen parent. But as adults know, being a parent is a huge responsibility. No matter what the final decision, a counselor can help both you and your teen through the strong emotions. As hard as it may be, your teen needs your honest advice and your love.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-03-13
Last reviewed: 2014-06-30
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
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