Preparing to be a Parent/Young Parent
Preparing to be a Parent/Young Parent
Getting pregnant at any time in your life can lead to a mix of feelings. You might be anxious, scared, excited, shocked, embarrassed or lonely. But it can be particularly confusing if you get pregnant when you’re young.
It’s completely normal to experience a range of emotions when you find out you’re going to become a parent. You don’t have to go through this alone.
If you think you might be pregnant find out for sure as quickly as possible. You can do this by taking a pregnancy test. You can buy these in pharmacies and supermarkets or you can go to your doctor. The test is really quick and easy. If you find out you are pregnant you need to talk to someone as soon as you can.
Telling a friend is a good place to start so that you have some support. You should also tell the dad. Even though this can be scary he should know and it can help to support each other. There is lots of advice available about what to do once you find out you are pregnant.
It can be just as scary for a boy to find out he’s going to be a dad as it is for a girl to discover she’s pregnant. You should make sure you talk about what you’re going through with someone you trust. Talk to the mum about what you both want.
You should also tell your family that you’re pregnant. This can seem like a scary thing to do but remember they will find out eventually if you keep the baby. You’ll also need their support during your pregnancy and after the baby is born. If you’re worried about telling your parents ask someone you trust to talk to them with you.
If you decide to become parents you will need to prepare for a lot of changes. Book an appointment with your doctor to make sure you get the health care that you need during your pregnancy. You’ll have appointments with a midwife to help you prepare for the birth of your child.
You will also need to think about where you will live once the baby is born. Many young mums stay with their family once their baby is born. If you’re not able to do that then the council will help you find somewhere to live.
If you and the father of the baby are in a relationship you’ll need to talk about how this will work once the baby is born. You might want to live together but make sure you think carefully about how you will afford this.
What are the signs of pregnancy?
The most obvious sign of pregnancy is that you miss a period. Some women also get something called spotting. This is when you have a small amount of bleeding around the time of your period but not a full period. You may also have an upset stomach (morning sickness) or find that your breasts feel sore.
Pregnancy can make you feel very tired for no apparent reason. You might also experience mood swings. If you get these around your period normally you may find that pregnancy makes them worse.
If you think you might be pregnant you should take a test as soon as possible. If you don’t want to take the test alone then many sexual health clinics will offer them for free. Or you could go to your doctor for a pregnancy test.
My period is late, does that mean I’m pregnant?
Missing a period can mean that you’re pregnant. But women can have late periods for other reasons too. If you are just a day or two late then don’t panic. Stress can delay your period or there can be other health reasons why your periods might stop.
If you’re not sure when your period is due it’s best to wait for three weeks from the date you had unprotected sex before you take a pregnancy test. If you take a pregnancy test and it comes back negative but your period still hasn’t come a week later, you should take another test.
If you are worried or think you might be pregnant it’s best to go and see your doctor as soon as you can.
What’s it like to give birth?
Different women have different experiences of childbirth. It’s natural to feel nervous about having a baby. Your body will be going through a lot of changes and there is a lot for you to think about. Remember that our bodies are designed to go through pregnancy and labour.
If you’re nervous talk to your midwife. She will be able to offer you advice and support. You can also go to antenatal classes to help prepare you for labour where you can speak to professionals and meet other expectant parents. These classes will also give you advice about staying healthy during the pregnancy. Both parents can attend these classes, they’re not just for the mother.
Can I still go to school if I’m pregnant?
If you’re still at school when you get pregnant you should still continue your education. Legally you are expected to stay at school until you complete Year 11.
You’re allowed to take up to 18 weeks off school before and after you have your baby. Your school isn’t allowed to exclude you because you’re pregnant. Under the law, your local authority has to make sure you have access to education.
Even if you have a baby and leave school after Year 11, you will have to do one of the following: Stay in full-time education, such as going to college Begin an apprenticeship or traineeship Be in part-time education or training while you work or volunteer for at least 20 hours per week.
I’m scared about becoming a dad. Who can I talk to?
A lot of the focus will be on the girl when she falls pregnant. But it can be a difficult time for the father of the baby too. You might be worried about becoming a parent and not know what you’ll have to do to support your child.
You don’t have to go through this alone. Talk to your close friends or family about how you’re feeling. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to people you know then advice lines like Childline and Brook can give you some support.
You should also talk to the mum of your baby. She’ll probably be experiencing a lot of the same emotions as you. Discussing these together can help you both prepare for becoming parents.
What happens if the baby’s dad doesn’t want to help?
If the father of your baby doesn’t want to give you support then you will need to prepare for being a single parent. This can feel very scary but you aren’t alone. Talk to your family and friends about what you’re going through. You should also ask someone you trust to be at the birth with you if the father won’t be there.
There are also organisations to support single parents like Gingerbread[http://www.gingerbread.org.uk/]. Getting involved with support groups is a good way to meet other single parents and get some help.
You’ll also need to think about how you’ll manage once the baby is born. Think about who could support you. Speak to your local authority before you have the baby to find out what benefits you can claim and where you could live.
How can I support a child?
Having a baby is a big commitment. It can be hard to know what you’ll need when you’re new to parenting but there is a lot of advice and support out there. You’ll need to think about where you’ll live once you’ve had the baby and if you and the baby’s other parent will be living together.
If you’re still at school then getting a job won’t be an option. But there are bursaries and grants that you can get to help you financially when you first have a baby. If you’ve finished school you’ll need to think about how much you can work.
There is also a range of benefits to support parents. If you’re confused about what benefits you can claim then speak to the local Citizens Advice Bureau. They will be able to tell you what benefits you’re entitled to.
You should also reach out to your family and friends. They may be able to help you as you raise your baby. This support could be offering to babysit when you go to work or school, or it might be giving you emotional support when you need it. Always remember that you’re not alone. Charities like Family Lives are there to help as well.
Did you know?
-1 in 25 teenage girls in the UK fall pregnant
-You can fall pregnant any time you have unprotected sex
-In 2014 nearly 24,000 teenage girls in the UK had a baby
Please be aware that this is NOT for emergency help. CLICK HERE for information on emergency help.