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What are the signs of pregnancy?
You’ll probably first realize you’re pregnant when you skip a regular period. But if you get a very light period around the time you expect it, don’t assume you’re not pregnant. It’s possible to have very light bleeding in the first few weeks of pregnancy.
Signs of pregnancy include:
- missed or very light period
- breast tenderness
- nausea, often in the morning
- feeling lightheaded
- weight gain
- feeling tired
- swelling abdomen
How does teenage pregnancy affect babies?
A healthy pregnancy lasts 40 weeks. A baby that’s delivered before 37 weeks of pregnancy is premature. Teen mothers are more likely to give birth to premature babies.
Sometimes, these babies lack complete development in their bodies and brains. Depending on how premature the baby is, this can lead to life long difficulties with health and development.
Premature babies also tend to be underweight. Underweight babies might have trouble breathing and feeding as infants. As adults, underweight babies are more susceptible to diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
Low birth weight also affects brain development. Children who were born underweight have been observed to have learning difficulties.
In addition to having an increased risk of being underweight, infants born to teenage mothers are also at a higher risk of infant mortality.
How is pregnancy diagnosed?
Most supermarkets and pharmacies sell home pregnancy tests. These tests are designed to detect pregnancy hormones in your urine. They’re most accurate if you use them more than a week after your missed period.
If a home pregnancy test indicates you’re not pregnant, wait a week, and take another test to make sure.
If a home test shows you’re pregnant, you need to make an appointment with your doctor. They’ll confirm your pregnancy with a blood test and maybe a physical exam.
What are the options for teenagers who are pregnant?
Teens who become pregnant may be afraid to see a doctor, but it’s extremely important for the safety of the mother and the unborn child. Your doctor should discuss all options with you regarding your pregnancy, including:
• abortion, or ending the pregnancy medically
• adoption, or giving birth and legally permitting someone else to raise your child
• giving birth and raising the child yourself
Ideally, the future father and family members of both mother and father will be involved in making the best decisions. However, this isn’t always possible.
Birth control clinics and public health offices can provide counseling information to help you make the right choices for you and your baby.
Is it possible for a teenager to have a healthy baby?
Teen moms can have healthy babies. Make sure you see your doctor as soon as you know you’re pregnant, and attend all your scheduled appointments.
Proper obstetrical care throughout your pregnancy is so important to the health and well-being of both the mother and the baby. Eat well, exercise, and confide in supportive friends and family members.
Cigarette smoking during pregnancy has been shown to lower birth weight and cause babies to be born prematurely. You shouldn’t smoke during pregnancy.
Drugs and alcohol can have very damaging effects on a mother and her unborn child. Don’t drink alcohol or use illicit drugs during pregnancy. If you think you might be addicted to drugs or alcohol, ask your doctor about counseling and treatment programs to help you quit.
Only take the medicines your doctor prescribes. Make sure your doctor knows about any over-the-counter medicines you are taking.
It’s important for all pregnant women to get proper medical care regardless of how old they are. But because teens’ bodies are still developing, seeing a doctor regularly is especially important for teen mothers.
What should you expect during prenatal visits?
You’ll see a lot of your doctor during your pregnancy.
During the first six months, you’ll probably have an appointment at least once every month. In the last months of your pregnancy, you may see your doctor every other week, ending with weekly visits in your final month. These visits are to make sure you and your baby are healthy.
At the doctor’s office, you’ll be weighed, your blood pressure will be taken, and your stomach will be measured. As your baby develops, the doctor will feel its position and listen for its heartbeat.
Your doctor will ask how you’re feeling and if you have any questions. They’ll usually then explain what you can expect during the upcoming weeks of your pregnancy.
It’s a good idea to write down any questions or concerns you have so that you can remember to ask them during your appointment. Make sure you talk to your doctor about your health, the baby’s health, and any emotional or family concerns you have.
See your doctor right away if you have:
• any vaginal bleeding
• severe or continuous headache
• dimness or blurring of vision
• abdominal pain
• persistent vomiting
• chills or fever
• pain or burning during urination
• leaking of fluid from your vagina
• swelling or pain in your legs
How can teenage pregnancy be prevented?
The only way to be sure you won’t get pregnant is to not have sexual intercourse. However, there are many methods to reduce your chances of becoming pregnant if you’re sexually active.
Many communities offer counseling and support programs that help prevent teen pregnancy.
These groups can provide information on birth control and help teens understand their own sexual limits so they don’t get into situations where they might have unprotected sex and get pregnant.
Some programs offer peer counseling, since it might feel more comfortable talking to someone your own age. Contact your health department for information on programs in your area.