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Teenage pregnancy

9-minute read

Key facts

  • Finding out you are pregnant as a teenager can bring up many different emotions.
  • You may choose to continue your pregnancy or have a termination.
  • If you choose to continue your pregnancy, it’s important to get medical attention to help prevent complications in pregnancy.

I think I’m pregnant – what should I do?

The only way to be sure that you are pregnant is by taking a pregnancy test. You can have a test by:

  • buying one from the pharmacy or supermarket
  • seeing your doctor
  • going to a women's health centre or family planning clinic

Finding out you are expecting a baby can bring up many different emotions. You might feel confused and scared, or happy and excited. All these feelings are normal and okay. Your feelings will probably change while you are thinking about your options.

What are my choices?

If you are pregnant, options for you to consider include:

  • continuing the pregnancy and raising your child with a partner
  • continuing the pregnancy and raising your child on your own
  • continuing the pregnancy and having the baby fostered or adopted
  • ending the pregnancy (termination)

It’s important that you have adequate information about all these options before you decide. Talking with someone may help. This could be:

  • a trusted friend or family member
  • a doctor or another health care professional

Unfortunately, many teenagers delay seeking advice when they are pregnant.

Take time to think

The following questions may help you work out what to do at this time in your life.

Your relationships:

  • Do you have support from family or a partner?
  • Can you work things out through the tough times?

Your responsibilities:

  • What does being a parent mean to you?
  • Who can you call on to offer you emotional and financial support?

Future plans:

  • How will this decision affect your plans for the future?
  • Where do you see yourself in 1, 2 and 5 years’ time?

It’s your right to have:

  • confidential care
  • safe, non-judgmental care
  • respect, whatever choice you make

If you need advice or someone to talk to, please call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436.

Continuing my pregnancy

If you choose to continue with your pregnancy, it’s important that you get medical attention. Teenagers have higher rates of complications in pregnancy and childbirth. Good care throughout your pregnancy helps lower this risk.

It’s also important that you:

You can talk to a health care professional if you need help with stopping drinking or smoking.

You are also more at risk of postnatal depression.

Talk to your doctor, who can discuss your pregnancy in the strictest confidence.

Issues for teenage parents

Being a teenage parent can make it harder to get an education or find a job. Juggling the responsibilities of being a parent with work, school and a social life can be tiring.

On the other hand, as a teenage parent, you will have the energy to keep up with a toddler. You may find it easier than older parents to deal with getting little or no sleep.

It can be very difficult to find affordable child care. These difficulties can make it hard to cope financially. It can also make you feel lonely and apart from your family and friends. However, support is available for teenage parents.

Ending my pregnancy

There are 2 ways that an abortion can be done:

  • Surgical abortion — is safe, simple and low-risk when done before 12 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Medical abortion — where you take some tablets to end your pregnancy. This can only be done for pregnancies of less than 9 weeks.

While it’s best to have a termination as early as possible, it’s also important to take the time to make the best decision for you. Speak to your doctor about this.

Abortion is legal in Australia. However, there are different abortion laws in each state and territory. These laws state the latest time when an abortion can be performed.

What should I do — my partner’s pregnant?

Finding out you’ve got someone pregnant may take you by surprise. It’s normal to feel a range of emotions such as disbelief, anger, joy or happiness.

You might find it hard to deal with the idea of being a parent because you feel:

  • not ready
  • too young
  • not set up in life to take on this role

If you’re with your partner, you may want to talk about the options available to you. This may help you decide what you want to do.

It may also be a good idea to talk to someone you trust like:

  • your parents
  • a teacher
  • someone else who has a child

Some things you should think about are:

  • Your relationship with your partner.
  • Are you ready to take on these new, long-term responsibilities?
  • Do you want to finish your education or training?

I don’t think I’m the baby’s father

It is possible to have a DNA test to check if you are the father of a baby.

This test uses blood (or other body tissues) from you, the baby and preferably the mother as well. The mother must agree for a sample to be taken from the baby.

If the mother doesn’t want to provide a sample, you may need to get a court order. You will need to get legal advice about how to obtain this order.

The test can be done at any age and is now very accurate. Talk with your doctor to find out how to do this.

How do I tell my parents I’m going to have a baby?

Telling your parent or carer that you’re pregnant can be daunting.

If you’re feeling anxious about telling, it may help to think through the conversation.

Think about how you want to tell them. You could do it:

  • in a letter
  • face-to-face
  • over the phone

If anyone becomes angry, ask them to calm down before you continue with the conversation.

Remember that this could be difficult news for them to process. They might need some time to think about what you’ve told them before they can continue the conversation.

It’s normal for your parents to be concerned for you:

  • They may experience shock, anxiety, anger and sometimes a sense of guilt or responsibility.
  • They may feel like they have lost their dreams for you.
  • Some of your choices may go against their values.
  • They may feel disappointed that you didn’t tell them about the pregnancy sooner.
  • They may be concerned about what friends and other family members think.

If you’re worried that they’ll react badly, identify a safe place to go afterwards. This gives them a chance to take in the news and calm down.

There are also services available to help if you don’t feel supported by your family. See the Resources and Support section below.

Resources and support

Being a teenager and finding out you are expecting a baby can put enormous stress on you and your family. However, there is support available to help you make the best choice at this time.

Pregnancy, Birth and Baby can help you:

You can also call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: September 2023

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Need more information?

Support for teenage parents

Find out about financial support you may be able to claim if you are a teenage parent, including education, parenting and housing support.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Teenage pregnancy: care and support | Raising Children Network

If your teenage daughter or son is expecting a baby, your child needs your support. Find out how you can help your child have a healthy teenage pregnancy.

Read more on website

Pregnancy and new parents

Check out our information for new and expectant parents, covering everything from bonding with your baby to spotting the signs of anxiety and depression.

Read more on Beyond Blue website

Brave FoundationInformation for Young People - Brave Foundation

Here to support you in your journey – whether expecting or parenting, regardless of your situation, you and your child can thrive.

Read more on Brave Foundation website

Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

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