It is totally normal for people to have strong feelings, or values, about any of these options. One reality of life is that what’s right for one person may not be right for another. Part of enjoying the freedom of reproductive choice (meaning, getting to decide what happens with and to our body) is allowing others to do the same, even when we might not agree with their choices. Put simply, it’s not ok to judge someone or make someone feel bad if they make a different choice. And keep in mind, our values can change over time, so how we feel about pregnancy options can change a lot throughout our own lifetime.
In this section, we provide you with accurate and non-judgmental information on all three pregnancy options. We know that someone who is pregnant can make the right decision for themselves if they have access to accurate information and support.
If pregnancy is a possibility for you (like, if you are having penis-vagina sex), it’s great to figure out how you feel about your pregnancy options, and talk to a partner, ideally before having sex. We say this because no birth control method can prevent pregnancy 100% of the time, except of course for abstinence. This means that if you are having penis-vagina sex, there is always a chance (even if it’s a small one) of pregnancy, even if condoms or other forms of birth control are being used.
The choice of what to do about 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.
If you want to learn more about how a pregnancy happens, check out the internal female anatomy section.
- Pregnancy Signs & Testing
Signs of Pregnancy:
Nausea (wanting to throw up)
Missed period (sometimes spotting or a period that isn’t normal for that person)
Peeing a lot
Weight gain or loss
Sore or tender breasts
Change in appetite
* All of these signs can also happen right before someone gets their period (PMS).
If someone is unsure and had penis and vagina sex, they should get a pregnancy test.
Pregnancy tests are a pee test that checks for a certain hormone that shows up in the pee when someone is pregnant. 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. Pregnancy tests can be purchased at drug stores/pharmacies and or done at nursing stations/teen clinics. At teen clinics and nursing stations, the tests are free, and at a store they 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?
- People can feel lots of different emotions when they find out about a pregnancy, including feeling overwhelmed, happy, shocked, scared, excited, alone, angry, confused and in denial.
Denying something that is really hard to deal with or shocking is normal. Sometimes people don’t choose to be in denial, they just are. Someone might deny they are pregnant because they:
- are scared
- don’t want to be pregnant
- are scared of how they will be treated by other people
- don’t know what to do or who to talk to
If someone is denying a pregnancy for awhile, it could mean that they:
- may continue drinking, smoking or using drugs while pregnant
- may miss the cut-off date for abortions (they can only be done up to 16/19 weeks)
- may miss important pre-natal appointments.
Drinking alcohol while pregnant can lead to complications such as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) in a child.
- Where to Go
When deciding where to go for support or someone to talk to, looking for the following can be helpful:
- Accurate information
- Non-judgmental attitude
- Information about all 3 legal options
Where to go and who to talk to:
- Teen Clinics
- Public Health Nurse
- Community Health Clinic
- Child and Family Services (CFS)
- Phone Lines
Not all organizations, doctors or walk-ins are “pro-choice”, which means that some people may not give all the accurate information about all 3 pregnancy options (especially abortion).
If someone is looking for more information on all three options, it is important to look for places that are pro-choice rather than organizations that will only offer information on parenting or adoption or give inaccurate information about abortion.
Teen clinics / public health nurses can give information and counselling on the three pregnancy options as well as help arrange appointments for whatever option she chooses.
Note: Ultimately, the person who is pregnant should always get to decide what happens with the pregnancy because it is her body and her life that will be most affected.
For the other person involved:
Counselling can help someone figure out how to cope if they do not agree with their partner’s decision. There is post abortion support, parenting support and adoption support available, for more info check out the Resources page.
- A safe and legal medical procedure to end a pregnancy
- Available without parental/care-giver consent
- Available without a partner’s consent
- Free if you have a Manitoba Health card
- More accessible before or at 16 weeks of pregnancy
- Available in Manitoba up to 19 weeks of pregnancy (right now there are only a couple of doctors in Winnipeg that will do them up to 19 weeks)
Even though abortion is legal everywhere in Canada, how easy it is to access depends on where you live. In Manitoba, abortions can be done in Brandon (up to 10 weeks) and Winnipeg (up to 16 or 19 weeks depending on the doctor).
The sooner you find out about a pregnancy the more likely you will be able to access all three legal pregnancy options. Teen clinics have free pregnancy counselling available on all 3 options (abortion, adoption, and parenting), they will help you with whatever choice you make. If you choose abortion they can help make appointments and connect you with care. In Winnipeg you can access abortion services without parental permission through a teen clinic.
FYI – Abortions became legal in Canada in 1988. Before then abortions were happening, just not safely. People have different values when it comes to abortion, but the law protects them all. This means that no one has the right to stop someone from having an abortion, and no one can force someone to have an abortion.
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 with the birth mother. 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. 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 gets to decide if they want to have contact or not with the child.
For more information on adoption you can contact an adoption agency. In Manitoba we have two agencies, one through Child and Family Services (204.944.4200) and one called Adoption Options. A teen clinic can help setup a meeting with an adoption agency.
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 Options
- How does someone get pregnant?
- Pregnancy can happen when sperm meets up with an egg, usually when people have penis – vagina sex without a condom or birth control. The basic scenario is this: someone cums, or ejaculates in or around their partner’s vagina, the sperm “swim” up the vagina and uterus to fertilize an egg in the one of the fallopian tubes. The fertilized egg (called a zygote) then travels to the uterus, attaches to the lining and a pregnancy starts. For the full run-down on how pregnancy happens, check out the Internal Female Bodies section here.
- Can someone get pregnant the first time they have sex
- Yes pregnancy is possible the first time someone has penis-vagina sex. If someone is trying to avoid pregnancy, Teen Talk recommends using birth control every time they have sex. You can get free condoms (which can be used as birth control as well as protection from STI/HIV) and free or low cost birth control at any teen clinic.
- What do I do if I'm pregnant? Do I tell anyone?
- In Canada when you find out you are pregnant you have three legal options available to you: abortion, adoption and parenting. It can be hard to make that decision. We encourage girls, women and other people who can carry a pregnancy that have penis – vagina sex to think about what they might do, even if they are not pregnant.
If you are pregnant, getting the appropriate care early on is important regardless of what you decide to do. All teen clinics offer pregnancy counselling on all 3 options available to you.
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 will either have to tell people in your life or let them find out when they see you pregnant. If you decide on abortion you get to decide who, if anyone you will tell. (F.Y.I. Abortions are done in Winnipeg or Brandon and can be done up to 16 or in some cases 19 weeks of pregnancy, depending on the doctor.)
Deciding what to do if you are pregnant can be a hard decision to make. 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.
- Can you get pregnant while you’re on your period?
- The short answer is yes. There are some days of the menstrual cycle (near ovulation) when pregnancy is most likely, and other days when it is less likely. However, it is possible for someone to get pregnant any day of the month, even on their period. If someone is having unprotected penis – vagina sex, sperm can live inside the body for up to five days! That means someone having unprotected sex during their period could get pregnant if the sperm is still hanging around inside the body until ovulation. It’s also possible for more than one egg to be released during someone’s cycle, or that someone has an unpredictable cycle.
If someone is trying to avoid pregnancy, Teen Talk recommends using birth control every time they have sex. You can get free condoms (which can be used as birth control as well as protection from STI/HIV) and free or low cost birth control at any teen clinic.
- If you have unprotected sex, and they take their penis out once the sperm is coming can you get pregnant?
- Yes. Any time people have penis – vagina sex without a condom or “pull out” (ejaculating or cumming outside a partner) there is a risk of pregnancy and STI/HIV transmission. This is because of the pre-ejaculate (pre-cum) at the tip of the penis. Pre-ejaculate contains sperm and any STI/HIV the person may have. To make sex safer from unplanned pregnancy or STI/HIV use a new condom every time. You can get free condoms and birth control at any teen clinic. If you think you might be pregnant you can have a pregnancy test done for free at a teen clinic or community health centre, or get one from a drugstore, grocery store, or dollar store for between $5-15.
- What if sperm lands on a body part close to the vagina and it is cleaned up right away—could a splash pregnancy still happen?
- Technically it’s possible, depending on the situation. A “splash pregnancy” is when semen lands close to the vagina, like on the vulva or labia, and sperm swim up into the vagina. To reduce the chances of this happening use a condom or birth control and avoid getting sex fluids on your partner’s genitals. Removing the condom away from your partner can help avoid spilling semen on their genitals. If sex fluids do get onto someone’s vulva, wipe or wash them off. If you think you might be pregnant you can have a pregnancy test done for free at a teen clinic or community health centre, or get one from a drugstore, grocery store, or dollar store for between $5-15.
- Can you get pregnant from a toilet seat?
- Not really. Sperm can’t live very long outside the body for very long – they don’t like being exposed to air, so they wouldn’t last long on a toilet seat. There could be a small chance of pregnancy happening if a vulva or vagina came into direct contact with the ejaculate (or cum) on a toilet seat, but only if they sat there right after the ejaculate got there.
- Who gets to make the final decision about a pregnancy?
- The person who is pregnant gets to make the final decision about which pregnancy option to choose (abortion, adoption or parenting). This is because ultimately it is their life that stands to be the most affected by the choice.
- What do you do if you’re pregnant and someone is pressuring you?
- Technically, no one in Canada has the right to force someone’s decision about a pregnancy. The pregnant person has the right to decide which pregnancy option (abortion, adoption or parenting) is the best choice for her at the time. This is because ultimately it is her life that will be most affected. Unfortunately, sometimes people are pressured and that makes the situation more difficult.
Teen clinics will give non-judgemental pregnancy counselling on all 3 options and let the person decide for themselves. They can also give resources or help make appointments for whatever option is chosen. If you don’t feel comfortable visiting a clinic alone, you can bring a trusting person to come with you. Another place to get non-judgmental information is the Action Access Line (by Action Canada for Sexual Health & Rights),toll free at 1-888-642-2725.
- I have a friend who is pregnant. Is there anything I can do?
- It’s great that you want to support your friend. Listening and being understanding is often a great help to people. If your friend chooses to open up to you, remember to keep what they share private. What they decide to do, abortion, adoption, or parenting is their decision. Their life and body stand to be most affected, so they have to make a decision that makes the best sense for them.
Teens can access pregnancy counselling at a teen clinic. Other resources to share with your friend could be the Action Access Line (by Action Canada for Sexual Health & Rights), toll free at 1-888-642-2725 or Health Links 1-888-315-9257. The numbers are free, don’t show up on a phone bill, and the counselors/nurses are trained to help, listen, and provide accurate non-judgmental information.
If your friend decides to have the baby, you can help by not drinking alcohol or using drugs around them. Drinking alcohol while pregnant can cause Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and not drinking around your friend can make it easier for them to avoid alcohol. Eating healthy food like fruits and vegetables is really important when someone is pregnant. We can help a friend who is pregnant by making and sharing healthy foods together.
- My girlfriend’s pregnant. What can I do to help?
- It’s really great that you want to help your partner. Any pregnancy, whether or not it’s planned, can make both people feel a lot of emotions from happy and excited to scared and overwhelmed. It’s normal to feel all of these emotions, even over the course of the same day.
Pregnancy counselling can be a helpful first step. Any teen clinic or health centre should provide pregnancy counselling on all three options: abortion, adoption, or parenting. Or call the Action Access Line (by Action Canada for Sexual Health & Rights), at 1-888-642-2725 or Health Links 1-888-315-9257 for more information, they are both toll free. Ultimately, it’s her choice. Your partner gets to make the decision of what to do with the pregnancy as it’s her life and body 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. It can also be stressful if you and a partner don’t agree on what should happen with the pregnancy. If you’re having a hard time it’s totally ok to call a crisis line (the Klinic Crisis Line is 204-786-8686/ or toll free 1-888-322-3019), or use the resources above for yourself.
- My friends and I have been wondering about how drugs impact a pregnancy. Where can we find this information?
- It really depends of the situation. Which drug, how much is used, and what else is going on (nutrition and health care for example) all affect a pregnancy. One really great website that deals with substance use and pregnancy is http://www.motherisk.org. They have an Alcohol and Substance Use Helpline, 1-877-327-4636 (Monday through Friday, 9 am – 5 pm). Try calling there for specific information about the effects of alcohol, nicotine and drugs like marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy on pregnancy. This service is confidential and the doctors and nurses on the phone can provide you with the most up to date information. You can also visit a teen clinic to get more information on the topic or get a free pregnancy test if you think you might be pregnant.
- What happens to my baby if I drink when I’m pregnant?
- This is a very important question. Drinking alcohol in pregnancy can cause FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder). Basically FASD is a term that is use to describe the mental and physical effects that kids may experience if the mom drank alcohol while she was pregnant. Some effects of FASD are hyperactivity, poor memory, difficulty paying attention, and poor coordination. Some kids with FASD have certain physical features, others don’t look any different – everyone with FASD has brain damage from the alcohol. All kids with FASD have challenges with day to day activities and interacting with others. FASD never goes away, there is no cure, and the child will have it for life.
If someone does not want to get pregnant they can access free or low cost birth control from a teen clinic or health centre. Teen clinics also do pregnancy testing and non-judgemental pregnancy counselling on all options: abortion, adoption, and parenting.
- I’ve been drinking for a long time and I don’t think I can quit just because I’m pregnant. What should I do? (I want to keep the baby.)
- This can be a challenging situation. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. The effects of FASD can include lifelong physical, mental, cognitive and behavioural disabilities for the child. It can also be hard to quit drinking, especially if you use alcohol as a way of coping with difficult things in your life. Because you’re asking what to do, it sounds like having a healthy pregnancy is important to you and that you are looking for support.
Talking to an adult that you trust is important, someone who won’t judge you. If you believe you are addicted to alcohol, you may need help to cut down or quit. Try to connect with someone like a guidance counsellor or a nurse at your local teen clinic. Sometimes they can help you figure out ways to drink less or quit altogether.
Getting care early on from a pre-natal worker, nurse, midwife or doctor will help you have a healthier pregnancy. Other things that can help are spending time with people who aren’t drinking alcohol (this can make it easier to not drink) and eating well during pregnancy, especially eating more fruits and vegetables.
Please remember, you are not alone. There are many girls and women who use alcohol the way you are describing and pregnancy can be a great motivator in reducing the amount a person drinks. With help from caring adults and a pre-natal worker/nurse/midwife/or doctor who really want to see you succeed, you can make changes that can help improve your pregnancy.
- My friend got totally hammered every weekend when she was pregnant and her baby is fine, what happened?
- It’s a good question with no easy answer. We know that Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is caused by alcohol use during pregnancy. Some people with FASD have visible effects you can see (facial features), but other people with FASD have effects that you can’t see right away (behavioural challenges). Sometimes the effects of FASD don’t show up until kids are a little older or in school. The “invisible” effects of FASD are the learning challenges, difficulty paying attention and keeping relationships, and having poor impulse control.
Only a doctor can diagnose FASD and there are a lot of things that affect the likelihood of FASD like nutrition, pre-natal care, and caring people helping out. Every pregnancy is different. Some kids with FASD have siblings who aren’t affected even though the mom drank alcohol with all of them.
The way to avoid FASD is by avoiding alcohol during pregnancy. This can be easier to do when you have support from caring adults and spend time with people who don’t drink. Getting pre-natal care early on can make any pregnancy healthier because they monitor how things are going and try to help the mom get what she needs. A teen clinic or community health centre can provide info on all 3 pregnancy options and can help people who decide to have the baby have a healthier pregnancy.
- I just found out I’m pregnant and I totally got drunk before I knew. I want to keep it. Is my baby going to be okay?
- There are 2 info lines that can help with questions about substance or alcohol use and pregnancy. Try calling the Alcohol and Substance Use Helpline, 1-877-327-4636 (Monday through Friday, 9 am – 5 pm) or the Action Access Line (by Action Canada for Sexual Health & Rights), toll free at 1-888-642-2725. Both are toll free and give confidential counselling and information over the phone.