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What to Do When You're 13 and Pregnant

Your Unplanned Pregnancy Options

Being pregnant is an overwhelming situation to be in for any woman. But, if you are pregnant at age 13, you will be dealing with circumstances you probably have never even considered at this time in your life.

In many ways, when you are pregnant at 13, you are still a child yourself. You may have just entered puberty a few years ago, and you are probably completely dependent upon your own parents for care, support and shelter. How can you expect to give birth to and raise a child yourself?

As difficult as your situation may be, you are the only one who can decide what is right for you. However, in order to make this right decision, there are a few steps you’ll need to take first. Your pregnancy will not go away on its own, and ignoring it will only serve to make your situation more complicated.

You’re probably asking, “Now that I’m 13 and pregnant, what do I do?”

We know that you’re scared and not sure where to turn — it’s completely normal. Know this: You are not the first pregnant 13-year-old, and you won’t be the last. You always have options available to you, as long as you take the steps to getting the help you need.

If you’re 13 years old and pregnant, please reach out to our counselors at 1-800-ADOPTION. They are trained to help young women in your situation, and they will be here to answer your questions and offer advice for moving forward. You will not be obligated to choose adoption by calling our agency; you will simply receive objective unplanned pregnancy counseling to help you decide what is best for you.

When you contact our counselors, they will often suggest you follow these steps for your unplanned teenage pregnancy.

Step 1: Tell Your Parent or Another Trusted Adult.

If you’re pregnant at 13, you may be avoiding telling your parents about your news. You’re probably scared about how they will react to you saying, “I’m 13 and pregnant.” It’s likely that your parents will be initially shocked and upset at your pregnancy — but remember that they are and will always be your parents. They will always love you, no matter what you do, and they will be there to help you get through this situation.

Telling your parents is the first thing that you should do when you find out that you are pregnant. Whichever unplanned pregnancy option you choose, you will need their help to follow through with your plan. If you’re worried about how you will explain your pregnancy to your parents, take the time to write down a plan for this conversation. Tell them what you want them to know, and be clear about what kind of support you want from them. As much as you may wish for this all to go away, your parents cannot take care of this whole situation for you; you will need to work as a team moving forward.

If you are not ready to tell your parents, please tell another trusted parental figure in your life — perhaps an aunt or a grandma. They can help you prepare for the conversation with your parents, and it may help you to have another adult there when you break this news about being 13 years old and pregnant.

Step 2: Obtain Medical Care.

The second thing you’ll need to do if you are pregnant at 13 is to visit a family planning clinic or another medical clinic. Every pregnant woman should receive prenatal care as soon as possible, especially if she is planning to continue her pregnancy. When you a pregnant 13-year-old, there are some added risks of pregnancy; your body may not be fully developed yet to carry a child to term and have a safe delivery. A doctor can answer all of your questions and make sure you receive the care you need to keep you safe and healthy.

Your doctor can also talk to you about your medical options for pregnancy. They can answer your questions about abortion and pregnancy to help you decide which unplanned pregnancy path is best for you.

Having your parents’ support during this time can be crucial, as they may understand the medical terms better than you and help give your doctor the medical information he or she may need.

Step 3: Receive Unplanned Pregnancy Counseling.

If you are 13 years old and pregnant, your pregnancy likely has not been planned — which is why you’ll need informative, objective unplanned pregnancy counseling before making your decision. As a 13-year-old, you have no idea what is involved with all of your unplanned pregnancy options. A counselor can talk to you about your situation and help you understand what your choice may mean for the rest of your life.

Here are some things that you’ll learn about these options when you receive counseling:

  • Abortion: Abortion is a relatively safe unplanned pregnancy option but, because you are so young, you may need parental permission to obtain this procedure. Abortion can also cost hundreds to thousands of dollars. However, this procedure does not impact your ability to carry a future pregnancy and will prevent your body from having to go through the challenges of pregnancy when it is still developing.
  • Parenting: It is practically impossible for a young woman of your age to be a mother without support from loved ones. At 13, you are legally unable to work, which means you cannot provide the financial support your child needs as he or she grows up. You probably still rely on your parents to support you, so they will have to be ready to support their grandchild if you choose to parent. Parenting is not like having a doll you can dress up and play with; it’s a 24-hour job, and you will need to sacrifice a lot to be a parent at your age. Think hard about these realities before you decide to keep your baby.
  • Adoption: If you want to give your child the best life possible, you may consider placing them for adoption with a family who is prepared for the challenges of being a parent. Even though you are 13, you will be in charge of your whole adoption process. You can choose the family you wish to adopt your child to, as well as what kind of relationship you want to have with them and your baby for years to come. Your adoption specialist will work with you to make sure you receive the support you need. However, you will need to carry your child to term and give birth if you choose adoption as your unplanned pregnancy option.

To learn more about your unplanned pregnancy options right now, please call 1-800-ADOPTION.

Step 4: Make a Plan for Your Unexpected Teenage Pregnancy.

Only after you have educated yourself about all of these options can you make the best choice for you as a pregnant 13-year-old. It’s a good idea to speak with loved ones about your situation; they can often provide a mature perspective that you may be unaware of at your young age.

There is another important thing to consider when making your plan for your teenage pregnancy: the birth father. Depending upon the age of the father, there is a potential for legal difficulties stemming from your intimate relationship. Your parents or other adults may try to get you to marry him to avoid these legal troubles, but marriage at such a young age can be very harmful. While you may be forever connected to him if you choose to have your baby, you do not have to be legally tied to him through marriage. If you are worried about this possibility, please reach out to an unplanned pregnancy counselor or a local attorney; they can often provide assistance to you for free as a young, pregnant teen.

If your pregnancy is a result of rape, incest or statutory rape, please contact your local authorities immediately or tell a trusted adult, such as a guidance counselor or friend’s parent.

Once you have decided on an unplanned pregnancy option, you can start creating a plan for moving forward. If you have chosen to place your child for adoption when you’re 13 years old and pregnant, please contact an adoption counselor today to start making your personal plan and having as positive an adoption journey as possible, regardless of your age.

Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. America Adoptions, Inc. provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is American Adoptions the right adoption agency choice for many birth mothers?

American Adoptions is one of the largest licensed adoption agencies in the United States. Each year, we work with thousands of women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy and offer assistance to these women. Our large, caring staff is able to assist you seven days a week and provide you with one-on-one counseling about your pregnancy and available options.

You should choose an adoption agency where you feel completely comfortable with their services and staff. With American Adoptions, you will work with an Adoption Specialist who is on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Adoption Specialist will be your advocate and will provide support and guidance as you create an adoption plan that is right for you.

How will the family tell my child about me and the adoption when my child is older?

Each family has their own style of introducing adoption to the child. When you are matched with an adoptive family, you can ask them this question. If you would like your Adoption Specialist to discuss it for you, just let her know. He or she can share your wishes or provide good ideas from other adoptive families.

You will also be able to share what you want your baby to know about you. You can complete a keepsake booklet to share hobbies, stories, photos of you and your family and a letter to your baby. The adoptive family can provide this to your child as he or she grows older. Be as creative as you like! Some birth mothers have even knitted a special blanket as a gift to their baby or given a similar symbol of their love.

The father of your baby can fill out the birth father's keepsake booklet or write a letter too. You may have other family members who would also like to share photos or a letter to the baby. This is your opportunity to pass on your and your family's love and to share your personality, history and reasons for choosing adoption. The adoptive family will treasure whatever information you provide and will share it with the baby at an appropriate age. In most adoptive homes, the word adoption is in the child's vocabulary early on, and adoption is celebrated in their lives.

Additional Resources

Teen Pregnancy - Information for Young Women

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