Every year more than 50,000 girls under 18 fall pregnant, putting the UK at the top of the teenage pregnancy table in Western Europe.
So what should your daughter do? What are her options? How can you help? Find out in our guide to teenage pregnancy.
By Anita Naik
What if your daughter is pregnant
Most teenage girls think getting pregnant is something that will never happen to them. Yet an unplanned pregnancy is likely to happen within a year if your daughter is having unprotected sex on a regular basis and/or is haphazard about using contraception.
Do the test
If your daughter is worried she’s pregnant the first thing to look for is a late period. She may also notice:
* a feeling of nausea (all day not just in the mornings)
* sore breasts
To find out for sure, it’s vital that she does a pregnancy test (sold cheaply at chemists). For a free and confidential test she can go to a Brook Advisory clinic (www.brook.org.uk) or a family planning clinic (www.fpa.org.uk)
A test must be taken once the period is late, because it works by detecting pregnancy hormones in urine. If a test shows up as negative and the period still doesn’t come, do another test, because the first test may have been taken too early.
Take a look at our Are you pregnant? feature for more symptoms.
What to take if you go to clinic/doctor
All your daughter needs to take with her is the date of her last period. At the clinic/GP she’ll be asked to provide a urine sample.
What are the choices?
If she is pregnant, your daughter will be asked what she wants to do and offered information on keeping the baby, abortion and adoption.
Who can your daughter talk to?
As every parent knows, teenagers don’t always want to talk to their parents first, so if your daughter wants help and advice she can contact a counsellor at Brook Advisory Centres, or the British Pregnancy Advisory Service.
The good news is these counsellors will help her come to terms with her pregnancy but also help her to find a way to speak to you.
How should you talk to her?
Telling your parents that you are pregnant is the number one teenage fear and, while your daughter can make a decision about her pregnancy without your consent, most doctors/counsellors will try to persuade a girl to seek support from her parents.
When she does talk to you remember it’s your reaction that she fears the most, so hard as it is try to offer her support and understanding.