17 and Maybe Pregnant

QUESTION

Dear Midwife,
I am 17 years old and my boyfriend is 18. We love each other very much and plan to marry when I turn 18. Well, my mother died years ago and I have longed for a mother-child relationship. My father could care less if I die. While I was growing up, my main priority has been a family and becoming a mother. I do want to go to college but I would like to wait and have a child.

I have been taking birth control for about a year but I stopped taking it in April. The pills make me very sick and my body hasn't gotten used to them in a year. I stopped around the 15th and had a period around the 17th that lasted for about 6 days. My boyfriend and I decided to try and get pregnant week after I stopped my period. Every night!

After about 1 week I became very sick, throwing up, nipples hurt badly and my stomach is hardening. I took a dollar pregnancy test from dollar general twice -- one in May and one a little over a week ago and they both came out negative. My body and heart really feel like I'm pregnant. I haven't stressed much and I'm not OVERLY excited. What should I do?

ANSWER

It probably won't surprise you if I say that it is best to get your education, get married, get a good career for you and your husband and establish a household before you have a child, because your child deserves to be born into a stable, adult home with two parents. At 17, you are still maturing yourself. You will be a much better mom for your child a few years from now when you have created the type of home you never had yourself. The last thing your child needs is the kind of instability you have had to grow up with.

That said, the tests from the dollar store are not always reliable, in my experience. If you can't afford a visit to a clinic to get a reliable test, or at least a more reliable home test, maybe it's not time to be pregnant. But if you turn out to be pregnant already, then you definitely need prenatal care right away.

I do wish you well, and think with a little patience, you will be a great mom. Good luck.

-- Cynthia, CNM. PhD.

Cynthia Flynn

Cynthia Flynn, CNM. PhD, is the General Director of the Family Health and Birth Center which provides prenatal, birth, postnatal, gynecological and primary health care to underserved women and their families in Washington, D.C. Recently Cynthia served as Associate Professor of Nursing at Seattle University. There she not only taught, but remained in full scope clinical midwifery practice at Valley Medical Center where she cared for pregnant and birthing women, and practices well-woman gynecology, family planning, and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases.

Cynthia founded Columbia Women's Clinic and Birth Center, where she took care of pregnant women and infants up to two weeks of age and attended both birth center and hospital births. Before Cynthia earned her CNM, she worked as a registered nurse in labor and delivery and postpartum and is a certified Doula and Doula trainer.