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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Video: pregnant teens and young fathers

Advice on the best way to handle teenage pregnancy, including guidance on confidentiality, what to focus on first and where to get help.

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Norah O'Brien, Teenage Pregnancy Advisor: "If your young person - your daughter or your son - has come to you and told you that they're pregnant, they think they're pregnant or they think they might have got someone pregnant, I think that's a really positive step: that they've come to you and talked to you about it. It means they want your support; they want your help.

"Because actually for a young person in that situation, they don't necessarily have to come and talk to their parents; there are lots of professionals that they can go to and talk to. And if they go to see a medical professional about a pregnancy, or anything to do with their sexual health, then that's a confidential conversation. So a young person can have treatment, get contraception, have a termination, even if they're under 16, without parental consent."

Try to stay calm

Norah O'Brien: "If the young person has just had sex, and is concerned about being pregnant, it's important for the parent to gauge the timeline, because the timeline's very important. If the sex has only happened within the last 72 hours, the young woman could still take emergency hormonal contraception, commonly called the morning-after pill. And that can be obtained free from your doctor, your pharmacy or a sexual health clinic such as Brook."

Encourage your teen to take a pregnancy test

Norah O'Brien: "Tests can obviously be bought at a pharmacy. You can also get free pregnancy tests at your doctor's, or at your contraceptive clinic, or sexual health clinic. Or go to a specialised young people's clinic like Brook National - they operate throughout the country."

What if my daughter is under 16?

Norah O'Brien: "Doctors and nurses who work with young people follow a set of criteria when the young person is under 16 to make sure that the young person is competent and understands the advice and information that they're given; but actually, your daughter or child doesn't have to come and speak to you about it - they can get that support and advice without your consent, and it's confidential."

Remember this is your teen's decision

Norah O'Brien: "Really, you need to take time out to consider what it is that your daughter might want to do. It's very important at this stage that your daughter feels that this is their choice, this is their decision. I can understand that parents probably feel anxious at this point in time. Different parents might have different cultural or religious views as well, which might influence the judgement or the decision that they want their child to make."

Whatever you might be feeling, try to focus on your teen's needs

Norah O'Brien: "I'd really recommend that the young woman goes for some counselling, in order to discuss her options with a trained professional, to give her time to consider whether she wants to go through with this pregnancy, whether she wants to consider having a termination of the pregnancy, or whether they would consider putting a baby up for adoption."

What if my son has got a girl pregnant?

Norah O'Brien: "It might be that he just wants you to listen and to know about the situation. He might not want you to get involved - however, he might need you to get involved; he might need you to mediate between the family or to support the young woman if she's not able to talk to her own family about it. So it could go a number of ways.

"But again, remain calm: acknowledge that your son has come to you with some very important information, ascertain what support it is that he needs from you and then take the appropriate action that way."

And don't forget, it's never too late to talk about contraception

Norah O'Brien: "It's such an important opportunity to bring up the issue of contraception. If your daughter has had a termination then make sure that they've booked into a sexual health clinic after the termination to make sure that there's some follow-up for contraception, and that the contraception is used and decided upon.

"Again, likewise, once they've had the baby, it's important to be thinking about the contraception that they're going to use - that could be arranged through the midwife, it could be arranged through the health visitor or [your daughter could] get booked in and go down to your local clinic to get some advice there. There's a range of contraception available to young people, and it's really important that they get really good advice."

Contraception is both partners' responsibility. Remember there are services and people to whom you can talk.

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