Most pregnant teenage girls did not plan to get pregnant. If you are a pregnant teen, it is very important to get health care during your pregnancy. Know that there are extra health risks for both you and your baby.
When You Find Out You Are Pregnant
Make an appointment with your health care provider after you find out you are pregnant. It is important to have good prenatal care health care while you are pregnant in order to:
- Improve your chance of having a healthy baby
- Learn how to stay as healthy as possible during your pregnancy
Your health care provider can also provide counseling and refer you to community services to make sure you and your baby have what you need.
If you don’t know where to go and feel like you cannot tell your family or a friend that you are pregnant, talk with your school nurse or school counselor. They can help you find prenatal care and other help in your community.
Your Prenatal Visits
It is best to find a health care provider who specializes in teenage pregnancies. At your first prenatal visit, your health care provider will:
- Ask you many questions, including when your last menstrual period was. Knowing this will help figure out how far along you are and what your due date is.
- Take a blood sample from a vein in your arm to do some tests
- Do a full pelvic exam
- Do a Pap smear and other tests to check for infections and other problems
Your first trimester is the first 3 months of your pregnancy. During this time, you will have a prenatal visit once a month. These visits may be short, but they are still important.
It is fine to bring a friend or family member, your partner, or your labor coach with you.
Stay Healthy During Your Pregnancy
You can do many things to help you and your baby stay as healthy as possible.
- [Eating a healthy diet -60-NEW] will help you get the nutrients both of you need. Your health care provider can refer to community resources to learn more about healthy eating.
- Prenatal vitamins will help prevent some birth defects. You may also need to take a folic acid supplement.
- Do not smoke or use alcohol or drugs.These can harm your baby. Ask your health care provider for help quitting if you need it.
- Exercise to help make you stronger for labor and delivery, give you more energy, and maybe help you sleep better.
- Get plenty of sleep. You may need 8 - 9 hours a night, plus rest breaks during the day.
- Use a condom if you are still having sex. This will prevent sexually transmitted infections that could hurt your baby.
Getting Ready to Be a Parent
Try to stay in school during your pregnancy and after you give birth. Talk with your school counselor if you need help with child care or tutoring.
Your education will give you skills to be a better parent, and it will make you more able to provide for your child financially and emotionally.
Make a plan for how you will pay for the costs of raising your child. You will need a place to live, food, medical care, and other things. Are there resources in your community that can help? Your school counselor may know what resources are available to you.
Is Teenage Pregnancy Riskier?
Yes. Teenage pregnancies are riskier than pregnancies in women who are older. This is partly because a teenager’s body is still developing, and partly because many pregnant teens do not get the health care they need during pregnancy.
Risks for the baby are:
- Going into labor early. This is when the baby is born before 37 weeks. A normal pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks.
- Low birthweight. Babies of teens are much more likely to weigh less than babies of mothers who are 20 years or older.
- High blood pressure that is caused by the pregnancy
- Severe anemia (low levels of iron in the blood, which can cause extreme tiredness and other problems)
Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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