If you think you’re pregnant, there’s probably a lot going on in your head. It can be hard to know what to do next. It’s important to take the time to think about what you want and what’s best for your physical and mental health.
If you find yourself worrying about being pregnant, don’t panic. So many young people have been in your situation before, and you’re going to be okay. There is help available, especially if you’re not sure who you can turn to for support.
Here are some steps to follow if you think you might be pregnant.
Before you do anything, stop for a moment and think about who you can turn to for support. Being pregnant can be quite stressful for some people, so you may need someone to confide in. Tell the safest person you have in your life about this news first – whether that's a parent, close friend, teacher or elder who may be able to offer advice, take you to medical appointments and offer emotional support.
If you don’t feel like there’s anyone you can speak to about this, you can call Pregnancy Counselling Australia 24/7 on 1300 737 732 for compassionate and confidential support over the phone. You can also contact your local headspace centre, or log onto eheadspace for a webchat as well.
Find out for sure
If you’re not 100% certain that you’re pregnant yet, the first thing to do is to find out for sure. You can take a pregnancy test yourself by purchasing one at a pharmacy, supermarket or petrol station. You may be able to access a self checkout option at a supermarket in some areas if you feel more comfortable purchasing a pregnancy test this way.
Alternatively, visit a GP to get them to do the test for you. Your doctor will conduct a urine test and may also do a blood test to confirm the pregnancy.
Get medical advice
It’s a good idea to visit a GP even if you know for sure that you’re pregnant. They can give you more details about what pregnancy is like and explain how it’s going to affect your body. They’ll also want to discuss your feelings around the pregnancy, do a general check-up to make sure you’re healthy, and get details about your family’s medical history.
If you’re a smoker or drink alcohol, your doctor will talk about the risks involved with this and discuss a plan for how to reduce them. A doctor can also estimate your delivery date by asking about your last menstrual cycle. You can speak with your GP about ongoing pregnancy care, and develop a plan for what professionals will help you.
A GP can also give you more information about your options for terminating your pregnancy, if this is what you decide to do.
In Australia if you're under 18, your parents often need to be involved in medical decision making. In some states you're able to make decisions by yourself once you're 16. You can check your state's laws or ask your GP about this.
Not all medical costs are covered by medicare, so make sure you ask your GP about what financial costs are involved in any treatment you might require while pregnant.
Think about what’s best for you
There are many factors that may affect your decision when it comes to pregnancy. Some of these may include:
- Your health and wellbeing
- Your ability to cope with being a parent
- Your plans and ambitions
- Your religion
- Your age
- Your financial status.
Deciding whether to go ahead with your pregnancy or not is a very personal decision.
If you decide to speak to the father about the pregnancy, you may also be affected by their response. There are many resources out there to help young men process the information about pregnancy, such as Dadvice, How is Dad Going? and Mensline.
Ultimately you get to make the decision about what's best for you and your physical and mental health. You might want to get advice from your friends, family or partner to help you make a decision. Sometimes this can help, and sometimes it may feel confusing. For this reason, it can be a good idea to talk to an unbiased professional like Pregnancy Counselling Australia.
Decide what you want to do
Once you know you’re pregnant, there are a number of things to think about. It’s normal to have a mixture of emotions and maybe not to know exactly how you feel.
Becoming a parent is a big change. Emotions like excitement, hope, nervousness and regret are really normal. Even if you’ve been trying to get pregnant, it’s not uncommon to feel scared. It may take some time for you to think about all your options, so it can be useful to have someone to talk to about this.
These are your main options to decide between:
Adoption means you’ll have the baby, and will give it to another family permanently so they can raise it. In some cases you may be able to stay in the child’s life if you want to. You can find more information about adopting out your child in this booklet from the Victorian Government.
Terminating your pregnancy involves undergoing a medical procedure to have the pregnancy ended. Your GP can give you more information about what procedure is available for you and help you find a clinic, or you can Google clinics in your area and speak with them directly. Many clinics recommend that you attend counselling before you go ahead with a termination, as it’s not a decision you can back out of once it’s done. In some Australian states, you need to have a doctor’s consent to carry out an abortion.
Become a parent
This means you’ll keep the baby and actively parent once it’s born. It’s important to know that having a baby doesn’t mean you can’t continue with study, working or living a normal life – it will just be an adjustment. There is support and care available if you decide to go ahead and become a parent.
This pregnancy decision-making guide from the Royal Women’s Hospital may help you work through your decision.
Reach out for help
You can’t do this on your own. Once you’ve made a decision, you’ll need to work with doctors and counsellors to make sure you’re okay with what happens next. Chatting to your GP is a good place to start, and they can put you in touch with professional counsellors, midwives and more.
You can always speak to someone about your pregnancy concerns at headspace – find your local centre.