A teen pregnancy and the potential of having a baby is often a wake up call for girls that it is time to start focusing on their health. While many teenagers feel a sense of invincibility, the realization that you are having a baby might bring your health and wellbeing into greater focus. Teens can have a healthy pregnancy, but they often need some guidance to help them thought the process. If you are a teenager and are having a baby, then here are some steps to take right now that will help you start looking after you and your baby’s health.
Reach Out to a Support Person
That positive pregnancy test might have come as a shock, or you may have already known that it was coming. In either case, this is the first sign that it is time to reach out to adults around you for support. Start by looking for a trusted adult in your life who can help you set up your first prenatal visit. Your parents, a school counselor or a pregnancy support person can help you find free or low-cost care in your area if you don’t currently have health insurance.
Schedule Your First Prenatal Visit
At your first prenatal visit, you’ll typically get a due date. Depending upon how far along you may be, the doctor might listen for your baby’s heartbeat or order an ultrasound. You’ll also complete a healthy inventory and discuss future prenatal visits and tests. Seeking medical care as soon as possible helps you to have professional advice that helps you plan for a healthy pregnancy.
Start Avoiding Unhealthy Activities
There are some things that you can do right now to help your baby have a strong start for healthy development. If you smoke, drink alcohol or vape, then you’ll need to stop doing these things. You can often find support groups in your community to help you if you find it hard to stop engaging in unhealthy activities. You’ll also want to avoid engaging in unprotected sex since getting an STD could impact you and your baby’s health.
Learn About the Pregnancy Timeline
As a teen, you might not have given much thought about what happens during pregnancy until now. The pregnancy timeline includes three trimesters, and knowing what happens in each one can help you know what is normal. For instance, you’re likely in your first trimester. This means that your baby is rapidly developing, and the changes that you make now have a huge impact upon their wellbeing.
Prepare for Normal Changes In Your Body
If you haven’t had morning sickness yet, then get ready. Nausea and vomiting are normal in the first trimester, and some women have these symptoms throughout most of their pregnancy. You might also notice some breast swelling and tenderness along with some skin changes such as increased acne. As your pregnancy progresses, you’ll also experience other symptoms such as backaches and fatigue. Talking to your doctor can help you know what is normal and which new symptoms are worth checking into.
Focus On Eating a Healthy Diet
Many teenage girls struggle with low self-esteem and poor body image. While you will want to eat a healthy diet, you don’t want to restrict calories. Pregnant teens are at a higher risk for developing anemia and other forms of malnutrition. On top of taking a prenatal vitamin, you’ll want to make sure to eat a variety of lean meats, fruits and vegetables. Although you shouldn’t worry if you occasionally eat some junk food, it is best to pack as much nutrition into your diet as possible.
Create a Safe Exercise Plan
Most pregnant women can continue with their normal exercise routine provided that they aren’t high risk for complications. However, you’ll want to talk to your doctor about the safety to strenuous workouts such as you might have been doing for gymnastics or other high impact sports. Generally, walking, swimming and yoga are safe things that you can do to keep your body strong and ready to support your growing baby.
Make Sleep a Priority
During your first trimester, you might find that you catch yourself nodding off in class. Fatigue is a normal sign that your body is working hard to help your baby develop. Making sure that you are going to bed at a decent hour helps you to have the energy to grow your baby and manage your other responsibilities such as going to school. If necessary, put your phone on the charger in another room so that you can resist the temptation to check your social media in the late night hours.
Take Care of Your Emotional Health
Pregnancy often feels like an emotional rollercoaster. You can mostly blame those sudden fluctuations from tears to laughter on your changing hormones, but they can also be due to stress. Teens often endure significant stress during their pregnancies, and you might feel overwhelmed at times. When you do, make sure to talk to a counselor, parent or understanding friend. You can also practice self-care such as doing something that you enjoy until you feel better again.
Begin Making Plans for the Future
The teen years are already a time when you are likely to be making plans for where you want to go to college or what type of career you want to pursue. Being pregnant also means that you’ll need to plan for how you want to care for your baby after it is born. Whether you choose to find an adoptive family or are planning to raise your baby on your own, you’ll want to sit down with a trusted adult and start mapping out your plans for the future.
The upcoming months are bound to be filled with special moments, but you may face some stress as your life begins to change. Remember that you and your baby’s health is a priority. Focusing on taking care of yourself throughout your pregnancy pays off when you enjoy a healthy delivery.