Finding out you're pregnant when you're a teenager can be daunting, especially if the pregnancy was not planned. But help and support is available.
First, if you think you might be pregnant but you're not sure, it's important to take a pregnancy test as soon as possible to find out.
I'm pregnant. What should I do next?
If your pregnancy test is positive, it's understandable to feel mixed emotions: excitement about having a child, worry about telling your parents, and anxiety about pregnancy and childbirth.
You may also be feeling worried or frightened if you're not sure that you want to be pregnant.
Make sure to talk through your options and think carefully before you make any decisions. Try talking to a family member, friend or someone you trust.
Whatever your age, you can also ask for confidential advice from:
- a GP or practice nurse
- a contraception or sexual health clinic
- NHS 111 – available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
It's your decision, but do not ignore the situation, hoping it will go away.
Your options are:
- continuing with the pregnancy and keeping the baby
- having an abortion
- continuing with the pregnancy and having the baby adopted
If you decide to continue your pregnancy, the next step is to start your antenatal care.
If you decide not to continue with your pregnancy, you can talk to a GP or visit a sexual health clinic to discuss your options.
They can refer you for an assessment at a clinic or hospital if you choose to have an abortion.
What support is there for pregnant teenagers?
If you decide to continue with your pregnancy, there are a wide range of services to support you during pregnancy and after you have had your baby.
You can get support and advice from:
- Brook – visit your nearest Brook service for free confidential advice if you're under 25, or use the Ask Brook online service
- Family Lives – visit the website or call 0808 800 2222 for support for families, including young parents
- Tommy's – visit this website led by midwives for the latest information for parents-to-be
- Family Nurse Partnership – a family nurse may be able to visit your home, if you're young parents, to support you from early pregnancy until your child is 2
- Shelter – a national housing charity that can advise you about housing options and housing benefits for young parents; visit their website or call them on 0808 800 4444
If you're pregnant and on your own, it's important there are people you can share your feelings with who can offer you support.
Can I carry on with my education while I'm pregnant?
Yes, you can stay at school up until the birth and then return to school afterwards.
If you're pregnant or you've had a baby, you're expected to stay at school and continue education until you finish Year 11. Your school should not treat you any differently.
You're also entitled to a maximum 16-week break immediately before and after the birth.
You can leave school at the end of Year 11.
But until you're 18, you still have to either:
- stay in full-time education (for example, at college)
- start an apprenticeship or traineeship
- work or volunteer (for 20 hours or more a week) while in part-time education or training
The law says colleges, universities or your apprenticeship employer are not allowed to treat you unfairly if you're pregnant or have had a baby.
Further or higher education
You can only get maternity pay if you have a job, so very few students are eligible.
But if you're a student, you should be able to take maternity-related absence from studying after your baby's been born. How long you take will depend on your situation and your particular course.
Apprentices can take up to 52 weeks' maternity leave. If you're an apprentice, you may qualify for statutory maternity pay.
Help with childcare costs
If you're under 20, the Care to Learn scheme can help with childcare costs while you study.
You can apply if you're going to study at school or sixth form college or on another publicly funded course in England.
You cannot get Care to Learn if you're an apprentice who gets a salary or if you're doing a higher education course at university.