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Pregnancy Options

 

When it comes to pregnancy, there are three legal options in Canada: abortion, adoption, and parenting.

We all have our own values about which option we would choose. What’s right for one person may not be right for another.  When it comes to all three-pregnancy options, people have the right to decide for themselves how they feel about each option. If you decide one option is not for you, that’s okay. However, we don’t get to judge or make someone feel bad if they choose a different option then what we would. It’s about choice.

If you are having the type of sex that can create a pregnancy (penis-vagina sex) then you may want to talk with your partner about which option you’d choose if a pregnancy happens, birth control, and condoms before sex happens. Sometimes if people have very different values around pregnancy options, they choose to not have sex or have a different kind of sex. No birth control method can prevent pregnancy 100% of the time, except for abstinence. This means that if you are having penis-vagina sex, there is always a possibility (even if it’s a small one) of a pregnancy. If you want to learn more about how a pregnancy happens, check out the anatomy section.

Ultimately, the choice of what to do with a pregnancy is always up to the girl, woman or person who is pregnant. This is because it is their body and their life that will be most affected.

Signs of Pregnancy

Pregnancy can affect different people in different ways. Below we’ve listed some of the more common signs of a pregnancy.  All of these signs can also happen right before someone gets their period (PMS).

  • Missed period (sometimes spotting or a period that isn’t normal for that person)
  • Nausea (wanting to throw up)
  • Swollen or tender breasts
  • Feeling tired
  • Mood changes
  • Sensitivity to tastes and smells
  • Peeing a lot
  • Change in appetite (food cravings or loss of appetite)
  • Weight changes (in the early stages it can be a gain or a loss)

 

If someone has had penis-vagina sex and thinks they may be pregnant or if their period is different or doesn’t come when expected they may want to take a pregnancy test. Knowing early if you are pregnant or not gives time to explore all three options, make a decision and make or attend appointments.

Pregnancy Testing

Pregnancy tests are a pee test. The test measures the level of pregnancy hormone in the urine. For most tests, you have to wait until your next period is expected or late as it takes time for the body to build up this hormone.

Where can you get a pregnancy test?

  • Teen Clinics
  • Community Health Centres
  • Nursing Stations/Public Health nurses
  • Pharmacies
  • Walk-in Clinics
  • Family Doctor
  • Some dollar stores
  • Supermarkets

 

At teen clinics, nursing stations or other health clinics the tests are free. Tests bought from a store can cost anywhere from $5-$20.

False negatives are possible.  Sometimes tests are taken too early so the pregnancy hormone is not built up enough or sometimes people make a mistake while using the test. It’s also important that if the test is negative and the next period is missed or irregular, another test is done. A negative result could turn out to be positive but a positive test is almost never false.

How Might Someone Feel About a Pregnancy?
People can feel many different emotions when they find out about a pregnancy including happy, overwhelmed, nervous, scared, alone, angry, confused, denial, and/or excited. It is common for both people involved in the pregnancy to feel all of these emotions in the same day or even all at once. Anyone who becomes pregnant may have these feelings no matter their age.

Denial

Denial can be a conscious or an unconscious defence mechanism. Sometimes people don’t choose to be in denial, they just are in response to a situation that’s out of their control.  Someone might deny they are pregnant because:

  • They’re scared
  • Don’t want to be pregnant
  • Don’t understand how pregnancy can happen

 

If someone denies or is unaware of a pregnancy they may miss their opportunity to explore all pregnancy options, they may not access prenatal care early or they may continue or start behaviours risky to the fetus like drinking or smoking. Drinking alcohol while pregnant can lead to complications such as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) in a child.

It’s important to know how our bodies work and to get medical attention early if we think we or our partner might be pregnant.

Where to Go for Support

You should seek support from someone who makes you feel safe, who you trust and who will be respectful and supportive of whatever decision you or your partner may come to.  A truly supportive person will not make any judgements and will be there for the person they are supporting.

Places that may help

 

Counselling services are available from Teen Clinics or Public Health nurses to get accurate information on all three legal options, even if you are not sure what you want to do. Often times, your partner can come to these sessions. They can also help arrange appointments for whatever option you choose.

Not all organizations/agencies, doctors or walk-ins are pro-choice, meaning they may not give accurate information on all three pregnancy options. If someone goes somewhere that they think is not giving them accurate information, or makes them feel uncomfortable in any way, it can be helpful to talk about that experience with someone like a counsellor at a teen clinic. 

Support for the other person involved

Ultimately, the person who is pregnant gets to decide what happens with the pregnancy because it is their body and their life that will be most affected.

It can be hard if they choose an option that we would not, but we have to respect their decision and find ways to cope with our feelings. Talking to someone you trust can help. A partner may also use their own counsellors, phone lines, family or friends for support, whether or not they agree with the decision being made. There is post abortion support, parenting support and adoption support available, for more info check out the Resources page.

Abortion

Abortion is a safe and legal medical procedure to end a pregnancy.

Even though abortion is legal everywhere in Canada, how easy it is to access depends on where you live. In Manitoba, Winnipeg and Brandon are the only places in Manitoba where abortions can be accessed.  Teen clinics have free pregnancy counselling available on all three options (abortion, adoption, and parenting), they will help you with whatever choice you make. If you live outside these communities talk with your public health nurse or nursing station to arrange appointments.  There is no charge for those with Manitoba Health Card.

Most doctors in Winnipeg do the procedure up to 16 weeks of pregnancy and some will do it up to about 19 weeks. The earlier someone decides the easier it is to access (counting starts from the first day of the last normal period). If you are under 18, you can access an abortion without parental/guardian permission, although some doctors may require it. A teen clinic or a pro-choice community health centre, (Klinic Community Health, Women’s Health Clinic, Mount Carmel Clinic, etc.) can help arrange appointments that do not require parental permission.

Check out the Women’s Health Clinic website to learn more about the abortion procedure and after care.

Adoption

If someone is considering adoption they will need to contact an adoption agency. This can be done at any point during a pregnancy or soon after birth. A Teen Clinic can help arrange this. An adoption agency will work with the birth parents to choose adoptive parents for the baby. There will also be an opportunity to meet with the adoptive parents before moving forward with the adoption. An extended family adoption is also an option. This is where the guardianship is given to a family member of the birth parents.

The birth father must also agree to the adoption before the process can continue. If they want, they may choose to parent the baby instead with an understanding that the birth mother will not be parenting. If the birth father is unknown, or cannot be reached, then a judge may sign the adoption application indicating this.

During the first 48 hours after birth, the baby will stay at the hospital. The birth mother may stay with the baby during this time if they choose. After 48 hours a Voluntary Surrendership Agreement is signed and the baby is given to the adoptive parents. Once the form is signed, the birth parents have 21 days to change their mind. This 21 day period is to give an opportunity for the birth parents to change their mind if they choose.  After the 21 days, all parental rights are permanently passed to the adoptive parents.

Openness Agreements are available with all adoptions in Manitoba. An Openness Agreement is a document made by the birth parents and the adoptive parents with the help of the adoption agency. It helps set up an agreement of how the birth parents can maintain contact with the child. Adoptive parents are required to agree to some type of openness agreement, but the birth parents get to decide if they want to have contact or not with the child.

For more information on adoption and your rights, you can contact an adoption agency. In Manitoba we have two agencies, one through Child and Family Services and one called Adoption Options. A teen clinic can help setup a meeting with an adoption agency.

Parenting

When someone is under 18 years of age and choosing to parent, Child and Family Services (CFS) is required to check-in on the family. They have workers whose job is to help young parents become more comfortable and adjust to their new role. It is better to contact CFS yourself if you’ve decided to parent because they can help with accessing pre and post natal supports and programs.  If someone is concerned about CFS involvement they can work with an advocate program such as Children’s Advocate (1.800.263.7146) to help ensure their rights are being respected.

Whether someone is parenting by themselves, with a partner or support from their family, it’s important to think about how they can provide a positive environment for the baby as it grows. Babies need safety, food, clothing, diapers, toys, day-care etc.  Social assistance is available to help with the cost of these things, but it may mean living on a tight budget.  The biggest and most important thing a baby needs to be happy and healthy is love. This is something we can all provide no matter our age.

It’s also important for parents to think about how they can take care of them self. It can be stressful raising a baby. Making time for yourself to do something you enjoy is still important because stress levels can affect both a parent’s and baby’s health and wellbeing. Finding people that you trust and can talk with can also make a big difference. This could be a friend, a family member, a counsellor or a parenting group.  Parenting programs, supports and resources including parenting friendly schools are available.

A teen clinic or public health nurse can help connect parents to programs in their neighbourhood.  

Questions About Pregnancy

Can someone get pregnant the first time they have sex?

Yes, someone can get pregnant the first time they have penis-vagina sex. If you are having or thinking about having penis-vagina sex and do not want to create a pregnancy then it’s important to use birth control. For all types of sex, it’s important to use condoms or sex dams to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STI). While condoms can help prevent a pregnancy (and STI) right away, some types of birth control need time to build up in the body before they become effective. This means starting birth control a few weeks before sex happens. Teen Clinics are a great resource to learn more about pregnancy prevention and offer free or low cost birth control and free condoms.

Can you get pregnant while you’re on your period?

Yes, you can become pregnant while you’re on your period. When it comes to pregnancy, there are no safe days in someone’s menstrual cycle. There are more likely days and less likely days, but no day where it for sure will not happen. There are a few reasons for this. First, sperm can live inside a body for up to five days. That means that if someone had unprotected sex during their period, and their ovaries released an egg a few days later the sperm may still be around to fertilize the egg.  Second, people’s cycles tend to vary a little from cycle to cycle making it harder to predict exactly when an egg may be released and sometimes the ovaries release more than one egg. If you want to learn more about menstrual cycles or the reproductive system, then check out our section on bodies.

If someone is trying to avoid pregnancy or an STI, it’s best to use condoms and birth control. Teen Clinics are a great resource to learn more about pregnancy prevention and offer free or low cost birth control and free condoms.

Can you get pregnant if you haven't had your period?

Yes, it is possible to get pregnant if you haven’t had your first period. For this to happen, someone would have to be close to having their first period. Their ovaries may release an egg before the first period happens. If someone had unprotected penis-vagina sex around the time the ovaries release the egg then it is possible for a pregnancy to happen. If you want to learn more about how the reproductive system works, then check out our section on bodies.

If someone is trying to avoid pregnancy or an STI, it’s best to use condoms and birth control even if your first period has not yet happened. Teen Clinics are a great resource to learn more about pregnancy prevention and offer free or low cost birth control and free condoms.

If they/I pull put before cumming, can a pregnancy still happen?

Yes, a pregnancy can still happen. When someone pulls their penis out of the vagina (or anus) before cumming/ejaculating it is known as the pull out method. The reason a pregnancy (or STI) can still happen is because of a sex fluid known as pre-cum. Pre-cum is a clear fluid that at the tip of a penis whenever an erection happens. Pre-cum may contain sperm or an STI (if the person has one). If a penis enters another person’s body without a condom, then so does the pre-cum. To learn more about how the penis works or pre-cum then check out our section on bodies.

If someone is trying to avoid pregnancy or an STI, it’s best to use condoms and birth control. Teen Clinics are a great resource to learn more about pregnancy prevention and offer free or low cost birth control and free condoms.

What do I do if I'm pregnant? Do I tell anyone?

If you are pregnant you get to decide what to do and who to tell. In Canada, you have three legal options available to you: abortion, adoption and parenting. Deciding what to do if you are pregnant can be a hard decision to make. Pregnancy counselling services are available at Teen Clinics and from Public Health nurses to get accurate information on all three options, even if you are not sure what you want to do. If you are pregnant, getting the appropriate care early on is important regardless of what you decide to do. They can also help arrange appointments for whatever option you choose.

Who you tell and if you tell depends on what you choose to do with the pregnancy. If you decide on parenting or adoption, you can decide when to talk with the people in your life or you can let them find out when they see you pregnant. If you decide to talk with someone, we’d suggest starting with someone you trust, that you think will support you and that will be non-judgemental. If you decide on abortion you get to decide who, if anyone, you will tell.

If you are pregnant and having a hard time, know that you are not alone. For more information or someone to talk to call the Action Access Line (by Action Canada for Sexual Health & Rights), toll free at 1-888-642-2725.

If you get an abortion, do you need parents consent?

In Manitoba, if you are under 18 you can access an abortion without parental/guardian consent, although some doctors may require it. Teen Clinics or pro-choice community health centres such as Women’s Health Clinic (WHC) can arrange appointments in Winnipeg that do not require parental permission. If you live outside Winnipeg and do not have a local Teen Clinic or pro-choice health centre you can call WHC for free to learn more about your options, 1.866.947.1517.

My partner is pregnant. What can I do to help?

It’s great that you want to help your partner. You both might be feeling a wide range of emotions right now from scared and overwhelmed to happy and excited. Whether the pregnancy is planned or not, it’s normal to feel all these emotions, sometimes in the same day or even all at once. The best way to support your partner is by asking them what they need from you and to respect what they decide to do with the pregnancy. Ultimately, the choice of what to do with a pregnancy is always up to the person who is pregnant. This is because it is their body and their life that will be most affected.

Pregnancy can be hard on relationships. It’s normal to feel stressed out if you find out your partner is pregnant. Pregnancy counselling can be a helpful. Any teen clinic or pro-choice health centre can provide accurate information on all three legal options of abortion, adoption or parenting.

If you don’t agree with the choice your partner makes that is okay,  but it is important that you always respect their decision, but you do not get to make them feel bad or pressure them to change their decision. The decision of what to do with a pregnancy is always that of the person who is pregnant because it is their body and their life that is most affected by a pregnancy. It is never okay to pressure them or try to force them to change their decision. If you’re having a hard time with their decision talking with someone you trust like a friend, family member or guidance counsellor may help. There is post abortion support, parenting support and adoption support available, for more info check out the Resources page. You can also call a free phone line such as the Klinic Crisis Line, 204.786.8686 or 1.888.322.3019.

My partner is getting an abortion and I don’t agree, what can I do?

It can be hard when our partner chooses a pregnancy option that we would not. If you don’t agree with the choice your partner makes that is okay, but it is important that you always respect their decision. The decision of what to do with a pregnancy is always that of the person who is pregnant because it is their body and their life that is most affected by a pregnancy. It is never okay to pressure them or try to force them to change their decision.

If you feel upset with their choice talking with someone you trust may help. This could be a family member, friend or someone at a Teen Clinic.  There is post abortion support, parenting support and adoption support available, for more info check out the Resources page. You can also call a phone line for support. The Klinic Crisis Line is 204-786-8686 or 1-888-322-3019, Kids Help Phone is 1-800-668-6868, both are free.

What happens to my baby if I drink when I’m pregnant?

Drinking alcohol while pregnant may cause Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). There is no known safe amount of alcohol that can be used while pregnant. The more alcohol someone who is pregnant drinks, and the more often they drink, the greater the chance of harm to the fetus. If you are pregnant the safest thing for the fetus is to stop drinking. For some people giving up drinking when they find out they are pregnant is simple. But quitting or cutting down may not be as easy for everyone. Even if you can’t quit, drinking less can help reduce your risk for FASD.

If you are deciding to continue a pregnancy and are struggling with drinking you can get help and support to have the healthiest pregnancy possible. Talk with someone you trust like a family member, counsellor, someone at a health centre, elder or the Teen Clinic.

If you are in Winnipeg, check out the Mothering Project at Mount Carmel Clinic. They offer non-judgmental prenatal care and support for people who are pregnant and drinking.

From anywhere in Canada you can call the Motherrisk Alcohol and Substance phone line for more information and support during a pregnancy, 1-877-327-4636.