When a teen girl is unexpectedly pregnant there are a lot of questions. Find encouragement and practical help from someone who has been there.
“I’m pregnant” was the most painful statement I’ve ever had to say to my parents as a teen – twice. The weight of shame, guilt, the uncertainty of their reactions and my future was felt deeply in my gut as a pregnant teen girl.
Maybe you just had to utter those words yourself or heard these from your teen. This is a challenging, life-changing moment for your family. But, I promise there is hope. This guide should help you to take steps towards embracing this time and allowing God to use your teen pregnancy for good.
My Teen Pregnancy Story
I found out I was pregnant a month after my sixteenth birthday. I was a junior in high school, made the honor roll, overall was a “good” kid, but I was seeking love in all the wrong places. I felt a mix of emotions, from fear to naïve excitement. I first told my baby’s father – my ex-boyfriend – and it was clear I would be on this journey without his support. When I told my parents, I was met with grace and support by all of them. Abortion was suggested, but I knew deep down that this baby had a purpose, and I was willing to sacrifice things to bring her life.
Being 16 without her father’s support and many other factors led me to really wrestle between my heart and my head. I knew adoption made sense logically, but my heart loved her so much already and couldn’t imagine letting her go. Eventually, around seven months along, Jesus met me with my broken heart. I surrendered my life to him and what I knew He called me to do. I chose open adoption, and finally, peace flooded my soul.
Our daughter will be 18 this year, and our open adoption is still beautiful and complex, greater than I imagined it could ever be. It wasn’t easy. Some days still aren’t. But, God’s peace assures me over and over as I have been able to watch her grow and be a part of her life.
In College and Pregnant
Remember I said I had to tell my parents my news twice? I had my first baby at sixteen, chose adoption, then a year later went to college. That college freedom was exciting, but once I met a kind, cute guy, it was difficult to remain chaste within that freedom. After my freshman year of college, I found out I was pregnant again. This time, I had a wonderful guy by my side. We had wanted to get married before, and this news pushed up our plans.
The struggle the second time around was with tension and anger from our parents. I felt broken and ashamed again because I “should have known better.” I dropped out of college for the year and lived in a maternity home because our parents didn’t want me in their home at that time. It was a painful season, but in a different way than my first. Still, God used it all once more to grow and change me. Healing did happen for our family, it took time, but by her birth, we had abundant support to be parents and to achieve our dreams. We married when our daughter was three months old and are still going strong fifteen years and five kids later! We both were able to finish college, and God has been faithful to provide for all our needs.
What to Say to a Pregnant Teen
First, know that your feelings are valid. It’s okay to feel angry, disappointed, upset or even have some excitement about a new family member. You’ll likely feel lots of things at different times, just like your teen is. However, within those feelings…
- Filter your words. Speak in love, not bitterness. How you respond in these moments where she feels at her lowest, feeling guilty and undeserving of kindness or grace can be the biggest impact on her heart and life. Your response and actions through this time can point her to Jesus’s grace and mercy.
- Remind her that you will love her and support her, no matter her past or what she decides to do in the future. She needs love and support right now, not condemnation or separation from the family.
- Take time to process before making any major decisions or reacting in a way that might damage your relationship.
- Guide her to medical care and emotional support, such as counseling, right away. Counseling was a huge help to navigate hard topics and tensions during my pregnancies. It can be beneficial for her, yourself and your family unit as a whole to embrace this change in life.
What to Do About Your Teen Pregnancy
So you’ve seen two lines, but what now?
- Figure out your estimated due date and how many weeks you are based on your last period. Using an online calculator, going to a pregnancy center or scheduling a doctor appointment can help.
- Discover what your baby looks like. It’s amazing how quickly babies form!
- Talk to others. Surround yourself with support from your family, friends, teachers and even online groups. Online was where God brought new perspectives and a safe place to ask other teen moms and birth moms questions on my journeys.
- Find a healthcare provider and make your first prenatal appointment. Research the difference between OBGYN and midwives to see which model of care fits your desires.
- Take care of your body. Sleep when you need to (naps and early bedtimes were common for me!), eat healthier and nutrient-rich foods, drink lots of water, quit smoking and drinking and begin taking prenatal vitamins.
- Reach out for support. There are so many people who want to help you through this time! Reach out to your local pregnancy center for pregnancy classes and supplies. See if there is an Embrace Grace group near you that will connect you with other young moms and have a baby shower. If tensions at home are high, seek out a maternity home that will provide housing and support.
- Feel your feelings. It’s okay to feel upset, cry, be worried or even have some excitement. Make sure you express those feelings by talking to someone, journaling, saying a prayer or seeking counseling if needed. You have time to think before making any life-altering decisions.
- Breathe. Trust that it will be okay. Keep taking the next step and asking God for guidance. I know how hard it is when your world feels upside down… but one day you’ll see how it fell into place.
If you are facing an unexpected pregnancy and looking for options, there are free, confidential services available.
- Click on MyChoiceNetwork.org and find a clinic nearby.
- Visit OptionLine.org. They can chat, talk by calling 800-712-HELP (800-712-4357) or respond to texts through “Helpline” sent to 313131 – at any time.
You are not alone. Connect with caring, confidential professionals to get all of your options.
Pros and Cons of Having a Baby
Having a baby can be difficult physically, emotionally and mentally. Yet, the best things in life often are beautiful rewards from challenges and intentional work.
Having a baby…
- Changes your life. You may have to grieve change, as we did. Yes, it looks different than you imagined, but it can still be beautiful! God can show you the path to a new way of living life.
- Grows your character. Whether as a teen or adult, each pregnancy has shaped me and grown me in new ways. You will adapt and can flourish too. You’ll learn so much about yourself, and you’ll eventually reach the other side feeling stronger. You can do hard things!
- Changes your relationships. Change can feel positive or negative. Having a baby can bring both. You may have to work through family tensions as I did. It may cause a breakup. You may lose friendships. Yet, it also may bring a stronger commitment and love to the people around you too. Where some relationships may fall away, new ones have the opportunity to bloom with people who genuinely support and care for you.
- Tests your patience and physical abilities in new ways. Pregnancy isn’t always fun with symptoms, aches and morning sickness. There’s a lot of patience involved in waiting to feel better, for the baby to arrive and patience when your child won’t stop crying or whining. These are times to practice leaning into the Lord’s strength! It will pass.
- Takes sacrifices. From your time, body, money, shifts in school or career paths, there will be areas that are sacrificed by having a baby. Even by choosing adoption, there was sacrificing my desire of being her parent so that she could have a different life I couldn’t offer at that time. Yet, it is all worth it. Is there grief sometimes? Sure. But these sacrifices made in this season can bring clarity of what you value most in life.
- Gives life more meaning and purpose. There is nothing like growing another human. It can shift your whole perspective to see what really matters in life: people. One day you will look back and see how God wove together every detail to bring you to where you need to be. You have a purpose. Your child has a purpose, too, and you get to be a part of that grand picture.
You have three options to consider in the coming days and months. Remember you have time to think through these! As you explore your options, it is helpful to listen to voices who have chosen all of these and learn from them – the good and the hard. Trust your gut. There is no “easier” path, as they all have different types of challenges.
You already are a mom now and caring for your baby within! After birth, you can choose to step into the motherhood role. This may mean being a single mom for a time. It could possibly mean marriage, if you feel confident that you and your partner are ready. There are many resources out there to help you learn how to parent well, achieve your dreams and begin this new chapter with support.
Adoption is when you choose another family to step into the parenting role. Maybe you feel like you aren’t in a place – whether that be physically, emotionally or mentally – to be a mom after birth. I know how heartbreaking that realization can be, take time to process it and talk to a counselor to process your feelings. Within adoption, there are three options of contact. Open adoption has full contact often knowing names, where each other lives and having visits. Semi-open adoption shares updates and pictures through the mail or digitally. Closed adoption means no contact or update information is shared.
Words of Wisdom for Pregnant Teen Girls
As someone who has been where you are right now, know that you can still achieve so much in life and have your baby too. This may feel like the end of your life, but this is simply a page turned. A new chapter is beginning. I know it may feel impossible to see the good right now– but trust me– God is known for redemptions! He will use all these hard moments to create something beautiful if you allow Him.
© 2021 Leah Otten. All rights reserved. Used with permission.”