Pregnancy Options 101

options

In the last post, we discussed pregnancy testing at New Generation Health Center and said that we would follow up with more about options available to pregnant women.  So as promised, here is a bit of information on parenting, abortion, and adoption.

pregnancy-options

As a heads up, there are a few references to anatomy (such as the uterus and cervix).  If you don’t remember what those are, click here.  And this stuff can be a bit difficult to understand so if I used words you don’t understand or something didn’t make sense, please ask me to clarify.

P.S. Sorry it’s a week late.  This is really important information and I wanted to be sure I was explaining it well.  I appreciate your patience.

Continuing the Pregnancy and Parenting

Continuing a pregnancy and becoming a parent can bring about all kinds of feelings, both physically and emotionally.  All are totally normal.  In order to have the best possible outcome it is very important to begin prenatal care as soon as possible, ideally within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.  What is prenatal care?  Prenatal care is the specific kind of health care needed during a pregnancy.  It includes check-ups throughout the pregnancy to help maintain and enhance the health of the mother and developing fetus (fetus is the term used for baby while it’s still in the uterus).  Prenatal care visits are also a great place to receive information about nutrition, exercise, breast feeding, body changes, and any feelings or concerns that may be experienced during pregnancy.  During pregnancy it is important to avoid certain substances, like alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine and other drugs including most medication (even over the counter medications), which could all harm the health of the fetus.

When selecting a prenatal care provider, the most important thing is to feel comfortable with the provider (doctor).  Some people ask friends or family members with young children where they went for their prenatal care to get a recommendation.

In California, women who are uninsured can qualify for a program called Medical that covers any medical expenses related to the pregnancy, including prenatal care and deliver.  We can help you apply here at New Gen. You can also check out the Medical website by clicking here.

Continuing the Pregnancy and Adoption

Adoption is the process of permanently placing the child with another family and giving all parental rights and guardianship to that family.  Because the pregnancy will be carried to term (meaning to be born) prenatal care is strongly recommended (see above for more information about prenatal care).

Although the biological mother (the woman who is pregnant) is primarily the person to initiate this process, it’s important to know the biological father may also have some legal rights to the child.  These rights vary from state to state and it is highly recommended that any woman considering adoption look into these rights within her state.

There are two types of adoption: open and closed.  In an open adoption, the pregnant mother chooses the adopting family and may decide to create a relationship with them.  Depending on the adoption agency, the biological mother may have ongoing contact with the adoptive family and the child after adoption placement.  In a closed adoption, the biological mother will not have any information about the adopting family and they will not have any information about her.  No relationship between the two is created and the biological mother does not have contact with the child after she/he is placed.  In some cases, when the child turns 18, he or she may be able to find out information about birth parents.  Adoption agencies can guide interested biological parent(s) through the process and decide if an open or closed adoption is right for them.  However, it is important to note that differences do exist between adoption agencies and it’s important to find one that is best suited for the needs of the biological parent(s).

For more information about adoption check out the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse.

Abortion

*In California, a woman does not need parental or partner consent for an abortion.
*The following information is based on abortion laws in California and may not be applicable to other states.

I have briefly described the various abortion options below.  It’s important to know that every abortion clinic may differ on a number of aspects.  It is also important to know that the experience of having an abortion is different for every woman.  By no means does this blog post attempt to cover all the details and various aspects of abortion.  If you have further questions, please come see us at New Generation Health Center.

Abortion is a medical procedure that ends a pregnancy.  Women can get an abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy (however, abortion may still be an option after 24 weeks of pregnancy if there are serious health risks to the fetus or pregnant mother).  Although it is important to take as much time as needed when considering abortion, health risks associated with abortion increase the further along in the pregnancy.  Still, abortion is safer than labor and delivery, and has no impact on future ability to have children.

There are two kinds of abortion: an in-clinic abortion (often referred to as a surgical abortion) and the abortion pill (often called medical abortion).

The Abortion Pill:

The abortion pill is a medicine that ends a pregnancy.  It is an option for women who are less than 9 weeks pregnant.  The medication is taken in a two-step process; the first medication stops the development of the fetus and the second medication causes the uterus to contract in order to expel its contents.  Essentially, it is a miscarriage caused by medication.  Although it may sound like a simple process, there are various other effects from the medication.  If this is an option someone is considering, it is important that they be somewhere safe and comfortable.  It is also recommended to have a support person, like a trusted friend or family member.  Most clinics require a follow-up appointment to make sure the abortion was successful.  This may involve an ultrasound and/or blood test.

In-clinic Abortion:

First trimester procedures (up to 12 weeks – although may vary slightly from clinic to clinic):

Most in-clinic abortions involve a procedure called an aspiration that involves placement of an instrument the size of a pencil into the uterine cavity and use of suction to remove the pregnancy.  This suction can be done manually with a hand held vacuum, or with a machine, which is usually used in women over 10 or 11 weeks pregnant.  While a woman may be at the clinic for several hours, the actual procedure takes typically less than 5-10 minutes.  During the procedure, there may be some cramping ranging from mild to intense; it is different for every woman.  Various pain medications may be available but may require the woman to have a ride home.  After the abortion, a woman will generally stay in the clinic until they are ready to leave (usually less than an hour).  There may have cramping after the abortion so it’s a good idea to take it easy the rest of the day.

Second trimester abortions (usually after 12 weeks) are more involved and often require a longer OR a 2 part visit depending on exactly how far along the pregnancy is.  Usually, if a woman is between 12-16 weeks (again, varies by clinic), a medication may be given to a woman to help soften the cervix.  This process may take a few hours and therefore the appointment is usually longer.  Post 16 weeks, a 2 part visit is usually required.  During the first visit, a clinician may place absorbent dilators into the cervix to help it dilate overnight.  At the next visit, the abortion procedure will be performed, usually under full anesthesia.

When facing an unplanned pregnancy, many women find it difficult to decide which option is best for them.  At New Gen, our goal is to help women explore these options and support them in making the best decision for themselves.

CHoice

We also often refer patients to Backline a free hotline which promotes unconditional and judgment-free support for the full spectrum of decisions, feelings and experiences with pregnancy, parenting, adoption and abortion.  Backline’s number is: 1-888-493-0092.

If you have had an abortion or know someone who has, you may be interested in reading a previous post on the subject by clicking here.

In addition to Backline, here are a few other resources that can provide more information about the options available to pregnant women.

Adoption Connection
National Adoption Information Clearinghouse
Women’s Options Center at San Francisco General Hospital
The Nurse-Midwives of San Francisco of General Hospital
Planned Parenthood
Homeless Prenatal (you don’t have to be homeless!)
Bay Area Doula Project

Again, if you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to send me an email at askshawna@yahoo.com or come into the clinic.

In happiness & health,

Shawna

Reviewed by Kohar Der Simonian, MD

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