By: Katie Norman, SNN Editor
Bishop's College, St. John's, NF
Sexual education in schools has come a long way in the past 20 years. This is due in part to an increased awareness in the importance of the prevention of STI's especially AIDS. Even though teenagers are informed about forms of birth control, there is still a growing number of teenage pregnancies. In Canada there were 64,753 teen pregnancies in 1994*. This information makes one statement very clear; there needs to be more information given to teenagers on what to do if they do become pregnant.
If you, your girlfriend or one of your friends becomes pregnant the first thing you should do is go to the doctor to get a proper pregnancy test. The earlier you detect the pregnancy the more options you have and the safer those options are. One thing to remember is that you won't be the first person to go to your doctor asking for a pregnancy test. This is their job. There is no need to be embarrassed when your health is on the line. If it makes you feel more comfortable bring a friend or the baby's father with you.
Your doctor can tell you as soon as a few days after conception if you are pregnant with a Serum bHCG (that's a laboratory test). Even simple urine tests can be effective 10 days after conception. There is no need to wait for your period as during teenage years they can be quite irregular.
After you have seen a doctor the next thing to do is inform some people around you, who you feel you can confide in. They may be your parent/s or guardian, close friends, the baby's father, teachers, guidance councillors or other family members. The most important thing now is to build a support network who can help you with prenatal and postnatal care.
When a person is faced with an unwanted pregnancy there are many decisions to be made. The first one is whether you are going to carry the baby to full term, abort or put the baby up for adoption. It's important to remember that none of these options are a perfect choice. You just have to decide which is best for you at this time.
Whichever choice you make the most important thing is to keep in close contact with your doctor. If you are planning to have the baby then physical examinations should be frequent and you should ask your doctor for counselling on what will happen when you have the baby. If you are keeping the baby then you should learn how to care for a baby.
The most important information I want to get across is that you need to do what you feel is morally, emotionally and physically right for YOU. Having a baby is a huge responsibility and not something any young woman should hope to do until they are mature and financially stable enough to handle it. This article was written simply to provide information on how to deal with such an event if it happens.
*Statistics Canada 1994 Survey