Teenage pregnancy is on the increase and young girls don't realise the consequences until it's too late! Ask any teenage mother and she will tell you it's no fun taking responsibility for a baby, sometimes not having the opportunity to finish school and disappointing yourself and others.
IMPORTANT! PREGNANCY IS THE CONSEQUENCE OF HAVING SEX – EVEN IF IT’S THE FIRST TIME YOU HAVE SEX OR IF YOU HAVE THIGH, FINGER OR ‘PULLING OUT’ SEX!
Luckily, you have a secret weapon, and that's good information and advice. Let us be your guiding light when it comes to subjects like:
- How to avoid getting pregnant
- What to do if you think you are pregnant
- How to deal with an unforeseen pregnancy
HOW TO AVOID GETTING PREGNANT
Let's get real here! The only sure-fire way to ensure you don't get pregnant is not to have sex at all. Making the decision to have sex is a biggie because once you've started to have sex, it's very difficult to stop! And how do you tell your partner that you don't want to have sex anymore?
But, if you and your partner are already having sex, and there is no way that you are going to stop having sex, then you need to:
- Go to the clinic/ doctor TOGETHER to discuss what type of contraceptive you are going to use - whether it is the Pill, the injection, condoms or more than one method
- Your health-care professional should also guide you as to how to use these contraceptives responsibly and consistently
- You should also be warned that there are side-effects from taking contraceptives and what you can do to minimise these side-effects
- Girls should understand that having sex means that they may also develop emotional feelings for the person they're sleeping with...possibly even falling in love with them
- Always use a condom (even if you are using contraceptives) because these can help to prevent STI's (even though they're not 100% protective). Pregnancy is not the only thing to worry about, so speak to your doctor about your options.
- Condoms can cause irritation, inflammation and allergies to the vagina. Change the brand if this happens, because inflammation of the vagina increases a girl's chances of getting STI's - especially HIV.
If you have had unprotected sex and are really worried about getting pregnant, you can get the Emergency Contraceptive Pill from pharmacies or chemists. This pill must be taken within 72 hours after having sex.
PLEASE NOTE THAT IT IS NOT A CONTRACEPTIVE AND SHOULD NOT BE USED OFTEN BECAUSE IT DOES HAVE NASTY SIDE-EFFECTS.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU THINK YOU ARE PREGNANT
First things first, what signs might suggest you are pregnant?
- A late period - often girls notice that they missed their period for the month. While a late menstrual cycle does not always mean that you're pregnant, you should still take notice if you have had sex.
- Breast changes are one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. They feel sensitive, tender and 'fuller' than normal.
- Nausea - morning sickness is one of the typical signs of pregnancy and can start as early as two weeks after conception (this is not necessarily an EARLY sign of pregnancy).
- Pressure on the bladder and a need to pee more often.
- Change in hormones causes emotional upheaval and feeling tired all the time is also an early sign of pregnancy.
- Some girls may have an ‘implantation bleed’ or light bleeding before expected period and may think that this was her period – but she’s in fact pregnant.
If you have had sex and have any of these things are happening to you, a quick trip to the local chemist for a home pregnancy test might be a good option. They are really quick and easy to use!
HOW TO DEAL WITH AN UNFORESEEN TEENAGE PREGNANCY
Pregnancy tests, if done properly, are very accurate. They should only be done once a period has been missed. If the test is done too early, there may be a false negative reading. A blood test can confirm a pregnancy long before a period is missed. If you are worried, ask your doctor to do this test for you.
The next step is talking to someone about it. The key thing to remember is that you need your friends and family more than ever, and being able to talk with each other is important.
Your baby's father has the right to know about the pregnancy and it's your right that he takes a shared responsibility in this baby and to be there for you, emotionally and financially. You're in this together!
If you don't have family or friends to turn to, google pro-life or pregnancy-crises organisations for help. Many offer accommodation, health care, counselling and even baby clothes and equipment that you will need.
If you want to know more about pregnancy check out the Huggies website for loads of excellent info.