Category Archives: Pregnancy

I’m Pregnant. How Do I Tell My Parents?

Destiny* was pregnant and afraid to tell her family. How would they react? Would they kick her out of the house? Would they be disappointed in her or angry?

Being unexpectedly pregnant and being afraid or anxious about telling parents or other family members is very common. Destiny is like many women we see in our clinic.

I'm pregnant - how do I tell my parents
Perhaps, like Destiny, you are afraid to tell your parents you are pregnant — so you don’t know what to do. We can help. Photo by Prince Akachi on Unsplash

Sometimes women, like Destiny, feel like they might have to have an abortion. Since they’re not sure they can tell their parents or others that they’re pregnant, they feel like they don’t have options. But often they don’t really want to do that.

In Destiny’s case, we helped her sort through the difficulty of telling her parents. “First Care Clinic helped me figure out ways to talk to my family,” she said.

If you are pregnant, or think you might be, and are afraid to tell your parents or others in your family, read on.

How do I tell my parents I’m pregnant?

This is a common question. You may be nervous about how your parents would react to the news of your pregnancy.

Everyone’s parents are different. Parents may be disappointed at first and may be shocked. Like with any big news, they may say or do things that they later recognize they don’t mean. Keep in mind that they had hopes for your future that right away might seem far off.

But parents often become more supportive than you’d expect. Give them some time to process this new information. The love parents have for their children is very deep. Your parents could become your biggest ally.

This is big news. Plan to have a conversation when you and your parent(s) have time to talk and aren’t already upset or stressed about something. And probably not too late at night either so they’re not feeling tired.

If you’re pregnant in Madison, Wisconsin or one of the surrounding communities and you’d like help in figuring out how to talk with your parents, we can help. Call or text us and we’ll set an appointment for you to meet with a nurse or patient advocate.

You don’t have to walk through an unintended pregnancy alone. Talk with someone you trust. Or contact us and we can help. That’s what we’re here for.

*Name changed to protect privacy.

7 Tips for Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby

If you are pregnant, you are likely getting advice from all corners. Hopefully you’re getting good advice from your doctor and nurses. And then everyone from your mother, sisters and friends to that person you just met in the check-out line at the grocery store may also want to chime in. You’ll likely see ads pop up in your Facebook feed to for what to do and not do during pregnancy. Probably some of this advice will conflict with what someone else says. So how do you sort it out?

Pregnant woman
If you are pregnant, you are likely getting advice from all corners. Here are 7 tips to help you sort it out and get you started toward having a healthy mom and a healthy baby.

Talking with your doctor or a nurse is a great place to begin. Be sure to have your list of questions ready when you go to an appointment. Or message your provider through MyChart.

Not seeing your doctor yet? Here are 7 tips to get you started toward having a healthy mom and a healthy baby:

  1. Start taking prenatal vitamins as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. If you haven’t yet established care with a physician to get started on these, First Care Clinic can get you going with your vitamins – free of charge.
  2. Contact your primary care doctor or an OB/GYN or nurse-midwife about establishing prenatal care as soon as possible. Early prenatal care will give you and your baby a great start.
  3. Be sure to get tested for STIs/STDs. This testing usually happens at your first prenatal visit. If you have not yet been tested, First Care Clinic can provide you with testing for STIs/STDs, free of charge. STDs in pregnancy can be dangerous to you and your baby. Both untreated gonorrhea and untreated chlamydia can increase the risk of miscarriage and preterm delivery. A baby that is born while the mother has an active gonorrhea infection can also develop blindness, joint infections or life threatening blood infections. Newborns exposed to chlamydia can get severe eye infections and pneumonia.
  4. Stop smoking, drinking alcohol or taking drugs. These can all be very dangerous to your baby, causing permanent damage. ACOG’s one page FAQ sheet provides an easy to read overview of the major risks associated with maternal smoking and alcohol and drug use. First Care Clinic offers programs to help women quit smoking and stop drinking alcohol.
  5. Establish a healthy diet. Your doctor or our clinic can help you to learn what is essential to be eating and avoiding during pregnancy. Here’s a good start about eating right during pregnancy.
  6. Be sure to get the vaccines recommended during pregnancy. (Yes, there are some vaccines you should get while pregnant.)
    Healthy mom, healthy baby
    Be sure to get the vaccines recommended during pregnancy. (Yes, there are some vaccines you should get while pregnant.) Photo by Julie Johnson on Unsplash.

    The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recently released a one-page immunization guide detailing which vaccines are recommended and which vaccines to avoid during pregnancy. It also lists some vaccines which may or may not be recommended depending on other risk factors. The two vaccines recommended for all women during pregnancy are:

    1. The influenza vaccine – Getting the flu shot during pregnancy protects you from getting the flu. It also makes less likely that your newborn will get the flu for several months after he or she is born. Pregnant women and newborns are at an increased risk for serious complications from the flu. Getting this vaccine is very important for the health of you and your baby.
    2. The Tdap vaccine (Tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis). Pertussis, or whooping cough, can be very dangerous to newborns. About half of babies who get whooping cough end up in the hospital and some die of this life threatening disease. When you get vaccinated against whooping cough, it will help protect your baby from until he or she is old enough to get vaccinated.
  7. Healthy mom, healthy baby
    Following these seven tips will put you on your way to having a healthy mom and healthy baby. Photo by Andrae Ricketts on Unsplash.

    Learn all you can about pregnancy, nutrition, fetal development and preparation for delivery and birth. First Care Clinic offers more than 90 lessons on these topics and more. The sessions are designed to fit your busy schedule. You choose only the sessions you wish to take and schedule them when it is convenient for you. Contact us to get started.

Following these seven tips will put you on your way to having a healthy pregnancy. You’ll be on your way to having a healthy mom and a healthy baby. Please contact us for help with any of these so you can be prepared in pregnancy and beyond to be the best mom you can be.

Need a Safe Place for a New Start?

Are you pregnant? Not sure you have a safe place to live during your pregnancy or after your baby is born?

Perhaps the father of your baby does not want you to stay, now that you’ve decided to keep your baby. You might be staying with a friend or a family member. They may not have space for you and a child — or they may question your decision to parent. Maybe you’re not sure your relationships are safe for you or your baby.

It could be financial concerns are troubling. “I want this baby, but how can I afford a child? I’m not sure about paying my rent and making ends meet every month,” you may think. Maybe you’ve just lost your job. Or maybe something else has changed that could make this transition to welcoming your baby harder.

The Elizabeth House bedroom
The Elizabeth House provides a safe place for a new start for pregnant women and new moms.

Did you know that there is a safe place in Madison for pregnant women and new moms? A place to live during pregnancy and for a few months after their babies are born. The Elizabeth House is a safe place for a new start. It is a nurturing home where pregnant women can make changes in their lives – to give their children something better.

Do you ever feel like you need a “time out” on life? The Elizabeth House could be it.

While at The Elizabeth House, the necessities of life are provided free of charge. You don’t need to worry about paying rent or where your next meal is coming from. Some of the worries and concerns of life are put on hold. Then you are free to focus on setting and reaching your goals and becoming the best mom you can be.

You will work with our staff to develop your plan. If you have not completed your high school education, your first goal will be to work toward your GED or HSED. Then you can turn your attention to more school, writing a resume or getting a job. You can take steps toward the career you want.

Planning a meal in The Elizabeth House kitchen
While at The Elizabeth House, you will take turns preparing family dinners and planning meals, with the help of staff.

You will also learn about nutrition, meal planning, finances, pregnancy and parenting. As needed, you will learn how to set boundaries in relationships. You can learn what a healthy relationship looks like and begin to form healthy, supportive relationships. You can seek emotional and spiritual healing.

At The Elizabeth House, you will live in community with other pregnant or new moms and their children. You’ll be supported by 24/7 House Staff. Each weekday evening, you’ll enjoy a family dinner together. You will also take turns with meal preparation and other household chores.

The father of your baby may be able to be visit you, depending on your interest, and take advantage of many of the opportunities you will have. He is welcome to join you for childbirth education and pregnancy and parenting classes. And he can be a part of our clinic’s Being Dad program to learn what it means to be an involved dad.

Most women live at The Elizabeth House for six months to a year. During this time, each woman secures a job, finds her own apartment and obtains safe and affordable childcare for her baby and any other children.

Many women save money while living at The Elizabeth House. Having this time without other expenses means they can be ready with a security deposit and first month’s rent. They may even have couple months’ expenses in savings when they move out on their own.

A successful graduate of The Elizabeth House
Women graduate from The Elizabeth House ready to be on their own and give their children a great start on life.

Women graduate from The Elizabeth House with a steady job and appropriate childcare. They are ready to be on their own and give their children a great start on life.

Wondering if The Elizabeth House might be a good fit for you? Find out more at elizabethhousedane.org. If you’re interested in this nurturing home where you can make a new start, fill out an online request form and someone will be in touch with you about next steps.

What are Early Signs of Pregnancy?

You’ve had sex and you’re wondering if you might be pregnant. You want to find out as soon as possible. And you’re not sure — what are the early signs of pregnancy?

Request an AppointmentThis is a very common question. And with good reason. Being pregnant can be a significant, life-changing event. Whether you’d desperately like to be pregnant or being pregnant seems like the worst thing that could possibly happen right now or somewhere in between, you’d like to know – today.

Here are ten common signs of pregnancy:

  • Missed period – Missing a period is often the first sign that a woman might be pregnant. But, especially if you’re periods are irregular, this sign may be misleading.
  • Tender, swollen breasts
  • Nausea with or without vomiting – This is often called morning sickness, but it can occur anytime day or night.
  • Increased urination
  • Fatigue
  • Moodiness
  • Bloating
  • Light spotting
  • Cramping
  • Food aversions

You could have many of these signs and not be pregnant. Many of these signs could also be symptoms of being sick or under stress or could mean your period is about to start. And you can be pregnant without experiencing many of these signs of pregnancy.

If you have had a missed period or think you may be pregnant the only way to know for sure is to have a pregnancy test. Call or text now to make an appointment at First Care Clinic.

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We can provide you with pregnancy testing in Madison, Wisconsin — free of charge. We can also provide a consultation on your pregnancy options, ultrasound as indicated, materials resources and evidence-based medical education. Everything is free of charge and confidential.

You will have the results of your pregnancy test during your appointment.

We’re here to provide the pregnancy related medical services you need. And we’ll listen, answer questions and help you. Come see us.

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Four Ways to Encourage Expecting Fathers to Step Up

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Longing to hear your boyfriend’s true feelings about your pregnancy decision? We can help.

Being pregnant is about more than having a baby. During the first nine months, a mother’s body adapts and changes so that she can nurture and care for her baby. And then the baby is born, and it’s over…right?

Of course not. A new life has been born into the world. Even though her body might return to normal, the mother’s life will adapt and change so she can continue to nurture and care for her new son or daughter.

Most of us don’t like change, but this is a different type of change. Your world is expanding to include someone who will always love you. Someone who will look to you and up at you. It’s not always easy and fun, but it is an incredible investment that will change your life in a good way.

Young couple on bench
Many women want their man, the father of their child, to be involved. They know he is a built-in partner since the pregnancy involves both of them.

There are many challenges to parenting, but many women share a fear: I can’t do this on my own. This fear stems from an internal instinct–you were never meant to do it alone. It also comes from common sense. Women know that they have a built-in partner, namely the father. Every pregnancy involves two people: a woman and a man; a mom and a dad.

Studies (and real life) teach us that a baby has the best chance at reaching his or her fullest potential when both parents are supportive and engaged in their lives.

For example, research tells us that a child who grows up without a father present in their lives is:
• Four times likelier to live below the poverty line
• Seven times more likely to become pregnant as a teenager
• Twice as likely to drop out of high school

While both mother and father share the common bond of a child, the relationships that produce an unintended pregnancy are oftentimes incredibly complex. Figuring out how to come together and create a healthy home environment for your child isn’t easy. That’s where we want to help you—both moms and dads.

You might already know the many ways we serve mothers, so let me talk about how we also serve fathers. Our Fatherhood Program aims to enable men to be the best dads they can be and to create a healthy environment for mother and child to flourish. We do this through training, encouragement and ongoing support.

Here are three ways we want to help dads in the Madison, Wisconsin area:

  • Meeting one-on-one. When the pregnancy test is positive, we want to be there to help men understand what’s going on. Most of the time, a man’s first reaction is some combination of fear and excitement. A man is often uncertain about the future and his ability to provide for a family. We’ll help your man think through his next steps. We can answer questions, address struggles, and meet needs he might have.
  • Fatherhood preparation. We want to help men prepare for fatherhood through classes or one-on-one training. We cover topics including:
    • The importance of fathers in a child’s life
    • What fatherhood looks like
    • How to be involved in your child’s life
    • Managing your emotions
  • Healthy relationships. Many relationships are complex. Your relationship will be on the spectrum of non-existent, unhealthy or healthy. No matter how you would define your relationship you both share a new goal. That goal is supporting your baby so that he or she can reach his or her fullest potential. How do you do that? We want to help you figure out relational skills so that your child has both a mom and a dad who are actively engaged in his or her life.
Young man by fence
Do you want your boyfriend’s input into your pregnancy decision? Or want your man engaged in your child’s life? Be sure to include him in the discussion.

Here are four ways to connect the father to our services:

  1. Include him in the discussion. Don’t assume that you know what he’s thinking. Men are really skilled at hiding their true feelings. Even if he says one thing, it’s a good bet that he’s not telling you everything. So ask follow-up questions. Here’s an example: You: “What do you think about having a baby?” Him: “I don’t know. It’s up to you. Whatever you decide is alright with me.” Then follow up with, “Do you think that you could be a father? Why?” No matter how far you get, taking this small step sends him the message that you want him to be involved.
  2. Ask him to come to your appointments. Men are extremely visual; they make a lot of decisions with their eyes. Oftentimes he will feel disconnected because the baby is hidden from his view. The baby is in your womb and you’re the one experiencing physical changes, not him. Ultrasounds can change his experience because he’s able to see the baby. He’s able to connect an image with your child. Coming to an ultrasound appointment is an easy first step to becoming more connected with the life of his child.
  3. Ask him to look over the men’s section of our clinic website. Men also like to know what they’re getting into before committing. Our website will provide him with important information about what he can expect from us.
  4. Contact me. I’m here to help and can provide you with more resources and details about our Fatherhood Program.

    Request an Appointment
    Longing to hear your boyfriend’s true feelings about your pregnancy decision? We can help.

Eating Right (and What to Avoid) During Pregnancy

You know it’s important to eat right when you’re pregnant. But what does that mean? Mom probably told you to eat your vegetables, which is a good start. But if you’re pregnant, or thinking about becoming pregnant, it’s time to learn more about nutrition during pregnancy.

Good nutrition is important for overall health during our entire lives. But pregnancy is a time to be aware of specific nutritional needs. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), pregnant women need to pay special attention to their additional calcium, folic acid and iron requirements. It is also important to be aware of food borne illnesses that pose risks to developing babies.

Know what to eat (and what to avoid) during pregnancy
Good nutrition is important for overall health during our entire lives. But pregnancy is a time to be aware of specific nutritional needs.

Be sure to consume enough of these three vital vitamins and minerals during pregnancy:

  • Calcium is a mineral that helps to form a baby’s bones and teeth. Pregnant women should get between 1,000-1,300 mg daily. Calcium is found in dairy products, broccoli and dark leafy greens. Calcium supplements may also be recommended by your doctor.
  • Folic Acid. Folic acid is essential during a baby’s development in his or her mother’s womb. Neural tube defects are a result of incomplete development of the brain or spine. Folic acid is necessary to prevent these types of defects. Current guidelines suggest pregnant women get 600 micrograms of folic acid daily. Folic acid is also known as folate (a B vitamin). It is difficult to measure the amount of folic acid in our food alone. Because of this difficulty, pregnant women and women trying to get pregnant should take a daily supplement.
  • Another mineral, iron, is especially important during pregnancy. Iron helps carry oxygen to the organs. During pregnancy, you should get 27 mg daily. That is about twice the amount suggested for non-pregnant women. Iron is in lean red meats, fish, poultry, dried peas and beans, and iron-fortified cereals. A daily supplement is usually still required to reach the daily amount that’s recommended during pregnancy. Eating foods high in Vitamin C, such as citrus fruits and tomatoes, helps the body to absorb the iron more easily.

Food borne illness should be carefully considered during pregnancy. Food borne illness poses risks to both mother and baby.

  • Diarrhea or vomiting brought on by food borne illness can cause your body to lose too much water. It can also disrupt your body’s chemical balance.
  • Other complications of food borne illness such as listeriosis can have more serious effects. Listeriosis can lead to premature labor, miscarriage, or stillbirth.
  • Pregnant women are 13 times more likely to get listeriosis, a certain kind of food borne illness, than the general population. To help prevent listeriosis, pregnant women should avoid these foods:
    • Soft cheeses
    • Cold cuts or cold hot dogs
    • Refrigerated meat spreads
    • Raw or undercooked eggs, meat, or seafood

If you are pregnant, you should be aware of the specialized nutritional needs you and your baby have. By following these guidelines, you will increase your chances of delivering a healthy child. And you’ll be doing good for you own body too.

Good nutrition is something that should start even before we are born. Eating a healthy diet carries us through all phases of our lives. It gives us the best possible foundation for good health and a long life!

Help! I Might Need the Morning After Pill

What is emergency contraception? How does it work? When can I take it? How effective is it?

What’s the difference between the morning after pill and the abortion pill?

Request an AppointmentWhat if I’m pregnant?

Birth control failure
Concerned about the condom breaking or forgetting to take the pill?

If you’ve had unprotected sex questions like these may be swirling through your mind. Or you might be wondering these things if the condom broke or you forgot to take your regular birth control. These questions can be hard to sort through.

The morning after pill and the abortion pill are not the same thing, but are often confused. If you’re wondering what they are or what the differences are between the morning after pill and the abortion pill, keep reading.

What is the morning after pill?

  • The morning after pill is often referred to by the brand name that started it, Plan B®.
  • It’s a drug intended to be taken as soon as possible within the first 72 hours after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy.
  • It contains a high dose of a progesterone, which is found in many kinds of birth control pills.

How does the morning after pill work?

What are side effects? Short-term side-effects of taking the morning after pill may include:

  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Changes in your period
  • Cramping and abdominal pain – this could also be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy. If you have severe abdominal pain three to five weeks after using the morning after pill you should get immediate medical help. You could have an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy.
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Dizziness

What else should I know about the morning after pill?

What is the abortion pill?

  • The abortion pill is not the same as the morning after pill.
  • The “abortion pill” is not actually one pill, but two separate medications.
  • The abortion pill involves taking two different drugs to cause a medical abortion. These are Mifeprex® and misoprostol.
  • The first drug is known as Mifeprex®, mifepristone or RU-486. In March 2016, the FDA made approved changes to the Mifeprex®/mifepristone regime. Mifeprex® is now approved, in a regimen with misoprostol, to end a pregnancy through 70 days since the first day of a woman’s last menstrual period.
  • Misoprostol is taken 24 to 48 hours after taking Mifeprex®.
  • About 7 to 14 days after taking Mifeprex®, a woman should follow up with her healthcare provider. This visit is to make sure the abortion is complete and to check for complications.

How does the abortion pill work?

What are side effects and potential complications of the abortion pill? Women who have taken Mifeprex® should seek immediate medical care for:

  • Sustained fever
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Prolonged heavy bleeding
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort or generally feeling sick for more than 24 hours after taking misoprostol. Generally feeling sick could include weakness, nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea.

These symptoms could be a sign of serious complications.

What else should I know about the abortion pill?

  • Ignoring the FDA guidelines below makes a medical abortion less safe. You should not take mifepristone if it has been more than 70 days since your last menstrual period began.
  • Do not order the abortion pill online.
    • Online purchasers of the abortion pill may bypass important safeguards designed to protect women’s health.
    • Drugs purchased online are not subject to FDA manufacturing controls or inspection. There is no way to be exactly sure what they contain.
    • If dangerous side effects occur, you will need a healthcare professional to take care of you.

What if I change my mind?

  • Under a doctor’s care, women have successfully continued their pregnancies after taking the first does of the abortion pill, mifepristone. Find out more: abortionpillreversal.com
  • Women should not attempt to counteract the abortion pill without the help of a medical professional.

If you have had unprotected sex and are concerned about pregnancy in Madison, Wisconsin, text or call us at 608-259-1605. We can help to answer your questions so that you can make an informed decision.

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Figuring Out What’s Best for You

Chloe* found First Care Clinic, saw that it had great reviews, and tells of her experience with welcoming and helpful staff. She talks about walking through best and worst case scenario and sorting out her options.

Request an AppointmentIf you think you might be pregnant and are looking for someone to talk to — someone who won’t judge you but will help you process your thoughts and feelings — listen to Chloe’s story and come see us.

If you think you might be pregnant in the Madison, Wisconsin area, text or call us at 608-259-1605 to make an appointment – all of our services are free of charge.

Request an Appointment

 

*Name changed to protect privacy.

5 Things to Consider When Making a Pregnancy Decision

If you think you might be pregnant and you weren’t planning on it, your mind may be swirling with all kinds of thoughts.

“I can’t be pregnant. Not now.” “I was on birth control. How is this possible?” “How can I care for another child?” “What about finishing school?” “How will I tell my parents?” “I can’t afford a child right now.”

Woman looking at pregnancy test
Pregnant and not sure what to do? Take time to consider these 5 things before making a decision about your pregnancy.
An unintended pregnancy can present many challenges. But you will want to take time to consider a number of things before making a decision about your pregnancy.
  1. Are you pregnant?
    • Are your symptoms or a home pregnancy test indicating that you are pregnant?
    • Before making any decision, get your pregnancy confirmed by a medical professional. An ultrasound can tell if the baby has a heartbeat and how far along you are.
  2. Consider your options. If you are pregnant, you have three options.
    • Abortion: Abortion is often seen as an option of necessity. It is not a choice that most women want to make but they feel that they don’t have other options. Learn more.
    • Adoption: Adoption can be a very difficult choice to make. However, making an adoption plan can be a good option for women who are not ready to parent and are also not comfortable choosing abortion. Find out more about adoption.
    • Parenting: Some women who initially consider abortion decide that they can parent their child after considering their feelings, values and fears as well as resources and support that are available. Find out how we can help.
  3. Consider your thoughts, values and resources.
    • It can be helpful in sorting out your thoughts to make a list of your options and the benefits and risks of each option.
    • Think about what you value. Looking at your list, rate how important each benefit and risk is to you.
    • Think about and write down any resources and support you know about that may support each of your options. How might the important people in your life support you in your choice? What community resources are available to you?
      • If you feel you do not have enough support, discuss your options with a trusted person. Our nurses and patient advocates can help you with this. Text or call us.
      • Is anyone in your life pressuring you to make a certain decision? It will be best for you – and for the long term health of your relationships – if you can both respectfully communicate your thoughts and feelings.
    • You will want to consider whether you want not make this decision alone or share the decision.
      • Regardless of who you involve in the decision, it will be best if you can make it freely – without feeling pressured to make a certain choice.
      • We can offer a listening ear to the person or people you are involving in your decision.
      • The father of your baby may find it helpful to meet with our Fatherhood Specialist or a male client advocate. Text or call us to find out more.
    • If you feel pressure from others to make a specific choice, find someone to help you and the others involved. Our nurses and patient advocates are available to meet with you. We can help you navigate the challenges you are facing. Text or call us.Request an Appointment
  1. Learn all you can about each of your options.
    • Abortion: Do you know what abortion procedures are available to you? Do you understand the potential risks of abortion? You have the right to give fully informed consent and to assess risks and side effects.
    • Parenting: Do you know what risks are associated with continuing the pregnancy? What community resources are available for pregnant moms and moms with infants and other children? What are the responsibilities of the father of the baby?
    • Adoption: Do you understand the options available with making an adoption plan? There are now many options for adoption. An adoption can be open or closed. You may get together with your child regularly and send birthday cards and gifts or choose to live life separately. Find out more.
  2. Know your rights: In the state of Wisconsin, you have the right to make this decision. No one else, including your parents or the father of the baby, can legally force you to have an abortion. The decision you make must be voluntary and non-coerced. If you are feeling pressured to get an abortion you don’t want, get help. Contact us or call the police.

As you attempt to cope with the complex emotions associated with an unintended pregnancy, it can become more difficult to think clearly about your options. Come in and talk about how you are feeling. We can help to answer some of the questions that are going around in your head. Text or call us today.

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I Can’t Be Pregnant

“I can’t be pregnant. Not right now.”

“I have plans. And I can’t afford a baby.”

Perhaps you or someone you know is having thoughts like these. You may wonder what to do next.

Should I have an abortion? Parent? Or maybe consider making an adoption plan? All of these sound like hard choices. Where do I go from here?

The nurses and patient advocates at First Care Clinic are here to help you sort through your options and create a plan to move forward. Come see us.

To find out more or to make an appointment, call or text us at 608-259-1605.

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1 in 7 Feel Blue

It was almost one week after my 21st birthday when I woke my husband up and said, “It’s time to go to the hospital.” I knew I was in labor with our first child.

Twenty years ago, I didn’t know very much about having a baby, but that night, I knew I was going to be having my baby. My husband and I drove through the empty streets to the hospital with mixed feelings of excitement and nervousness.

At the hospital, I wasn’t sure what to do, what to ask, or how to act. I remember the nurses coming in. They said that they were going to do this or that now, and then they would do it without me having much to say about it. I began to feel a little bit out of control of the situation and more anxiety set in.

The birth of my daughter was a little bit difficult. Instead of giving her to me right after birth, the hospital staff took her to the nursery. I didn’t hold my daughter until the next morning.

When they brought my baby to me, I looked at her with some indifference. I felt some shock at myself because my first thought was, “OK, can I go back to sleep now?” I had expected that I would have experienced a huge gush of love and tenderness. I thought any new mother should feel this love when first holding their new baby. That indifference, and the guilt I felt because of it, lingered once we went home for the next few weeks.

My experience is not all that uncommon. We have this myth in our society that “good” mothers gush and cry to prove their love and worth as mothers when they see their babies. This “good” mothering goes on to perform self-care and newborn care. The “good mother” also cleans, does laundry and makes dinner without batting an eye. We somehow believe that if we do not accomplish all of this while physically recovering from birth — and on two to four hours of sleep — we have failed as mothers. I felt like a failure. This soon evolved into feelings of despair and depression.

1 in 7 women suffer from postpartum depression
It is OK to ask for help and to admit this has happened to you. There is help available.

One in seven women experience mental health or mood disturbances after birth. Yet we often don’t give women permission to talk about these feelings. It is time to acknowledge that postpartum blues, depression and even psychosis happen. Nobody is at fault for it. It is OK to ask for help and to admit this has happened to you. There is help available.

It is not a blemish on your character or your worth as a mother or a woman if you are one of the one in seven women who experiences postpartum mental health issues.

I did find the courage to speak to my health care provider about my depression and I was given tools to help. My daughter is a beautiful 20-year-old and we have a strong, secure relationship. I’m thankful that help came for me in a non-judgmental way. Gratefully, I was able to come through that dark time into a loving relationship with my daughter.

If you find yourself in need of speaking to someone about your own experience, please don’t be afraid to speak out. You can talk to your own health care provider, find a support group, or contact us at First Care Clinic. We’re ready to listen and offer support and resources.

Not ready to call? Check out these resources for a first step toward getting the help you need:

www.postpartum.net
Postpartum Support International -Phone Number: 800-994-4PPD (4773)
PPD Moms -Phone Number: 800-PPD-MOMS (800-773-6667)

5 Ways to Help a Friend

What do you say when a friend tells you she might be pregnant? 

Recently I was talking with a woman I’ll call Leslie. Leslie was a client at First Care Clinic a couple years ago.

Leslie told me that she wished more people knew about First Care Clinic. Then she told me why. Leslie has a friend who had been pregnant and ended her pregnancy. Leslie didn’t know how to help support her friend as she was making her pregnancy decision.

5 ways to help a friend who might be pregnantEspecially for situations like Leslie’s, we like to share these 5 Ways to Help a Friend Who Might Be Pregnant.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Listen without judging. Many women who are facing an unintended pregnancy expect that some around them may look down on them for how they got into this situation. A listening ear is invaluable and can be rare.
  • Don’t pressure her. Women facing unintended pregnancies often feel pressure from their boyfriend, parents or friends. Support her and let her know you care without adding pressure.
  • Let her know there’s a place she can go for help in First Care Clinic.
  • Be there for her. Invite her to join you for coffee or to call you whenever she needs to talk to continue the conversation.
  • Keep the news to yourself. Don’t share the news with others. Keep her confidence unless there is a dangerous situation which should be reported.

Here’s how we can help:

  • Medical services
    • Pregnancy testing
    • Obstetrical ultrasound
    • STI testing and treatment for women
  • Education and support
    • Evidence-based medical education about pregnancy options
    • Pregnancy, childbirth and parenting education
    • Support for men from men
    • Healthy relationships education
    • A listening ear and ongoing support
  • Residential maternity program, The Elizabeth House

We offer all of our services confidentially and free of charge.

Don’t keep First Care Clinic a secret! If you know a young woman or man who might be making a pregnancy decision, listen, be there and spread the word that there is help available!

Wondering How You Can Afford a Child?

Raising a child comes with expenses and commitments. Trying to make your budget work to care for a new baby can be a challenge. But there are ways to make it work — even if money is tight.

Here are 7 ways to save money that can help you make ends meet with your growing family:

  1. Open a savings account if you don’t already have one. DO NOT attach your debit card to this account. You can still access the money if you need it for an emergency, but it’s not quite so convenient so it’s easier to save.
  2. Create a budget – and live by it. Plan to put something into your savings account every month, even if it’s only $10 or $20. Aim to save $1,000 for emergencies.
  3. When you have an emergency, don’t put it on your credit card. Instead, use money you have saved.
  4. Limit the number of times you eat out every month. It’s amazing how much money you can save by buying food at the grocery store and cooking your own meals. These meals can be simple and don’t need to take a lot of time. Eating at home for most meals is one of the easiest ways to save a lot of money quickly. When you go to the grocery store, have your shopping list and stick to it. Be sure you’ve eaten before you go shopping so you’re less tempted to pick up extra items because you’re ready for a snack.
  5. Understand the difference between your needs and your wants. Keep this in mind when you make your budget and when you go shopping. Be sure to reserve money for rent, utilities, food and diapers. Don’t buy that adorable baby outfit, pick up that cute pair of shoes or get your hair done unless you have all that you and your baby need taken care of first.
  6. Be aware of your credit score. Run your own credit rating and see what it says. Look for debts that are not yours and file a fraud claim if needed. (The collection agency will walk you through how to do this.)
  7. Accept the resources that are available to you such as WIC, Foodshare or local food pantries. There is no shame in making use of community resources. Consider ways you can also give back to your community, especially as your resources grow.

Saving money to raise a child on a budget may mean making some short-term sacrifices. However, the benefits in the long run are invaluable:

  1. Your budget frees you to spend money where you have already decided you want to spend it. It’s a spending plan. Don’t be afraid to spend what you’ve already budgeted.
  2. When you live within your budget and save a little money each month you will become financially stable. Then you will be able to provide for yourself and your baby.
  3. Being aware of your credit score, getting rid of fraudulent debts and paying your bills on time will make your life easier. It will be easier for you to get an apartment or a home in the future and to handle life’s emergencies.

Parenting, Abortion and What?

Adoption Options and 3 Myths You Should Know — 

Adoption is not for everyone. In fact, fewer than 2% of unmarried women facing an unintended pregnancy choose to make an adoption plan. Contrary to popular opinion, most women who make an adoption plan are in their mid to late 20s or older.

Adoption is never an easy choice. But then, neither is abortion. And parenting can be a difficult choice as well. Especially when life is challenging and resources are scarce.

When making a decision about a pregnancy, a woman has those three choices:

  • Adoption
  • Abortion
  • Parenting

We often talk about abortion and about parenting. Adoption can feel like the forgotten option.

It takes a lot of courage and strength to choose to make an adoption plan. Carrying a child for nine months and then placing him/her for adoption is hard. And there are considerations to be made regarding the father of the baby, who also has legal parental rights.

Fortunately, there are now many options for adoption. An adoption can be closed or open or semi-open. It can include correspondence, regular get togethers or no contact between the birth mom or dad and the child. Birth moms and dads may send birthday cards and gifts. They may communicate via email or Skype or meet in person. Or they may choose to live life separately and possibly reconnect down the road.

In a closed adoption, there is no contact or communication between the birth parents and the adoptive parents and child. Decades ago, nearly all adoptions were closed. But that has changed.

An open adoption involves contact, communication and/or information sharing. Biological and adoptive families share varying degrees of personal information. The type, directness and frequency of contact varies a lot. A semi-open adoption allows for interaction between the families. With a semi-open adoption, the interaction is usually facilitated by a third party such as an attorney or the adoption agency.

A study by the National Institutes of Health indicated that open adoptions “are more likely to result in positive relationships across birth and adoptive family members.”

Contact between adoptive and birth families is becoming more common across all types of adoption. Social media and new technologies are accelerating this interaction. More than 9 out of every 10 women who choose adoption request some form of contact with the adoptive parents.

There are many myths about adoption that are very pervasive in our society. Some of those are about the birth mother. If you’re pregnant, these myths could affect your decision or the thoughts of those around you.

Three myths about adoption and the facts you should know:

  1. Myth: The birth mother didn’t love her baby and is abandoning him or her.
    1. Fact: The truth is exactly the opposite. When a woman places her child for adoption, she is choosing what she believes is in the best interest of her child. Rather than “abandoning” an unloved child, she is recognizing her current situation. She wants a “better life” for her child than she can currently provide. It is a loving, brave and self-less choice.
    2. Fact: Further, 90 percent of adopted children ages 5 and older have positive feelings about their adoption. Most adopted children appreciate the selfless decision their birth parents made for them, and love them for it.
  2. Myth: Birth mothers will experience unresolved grief for the rest of their lives.
    1. Fact: Birth mothers are no more likely to suffer negative psychological consequences, such as depression, than are mothers who rear children as single parents.
    2. Fact: Birth mothers in the NIH study experienced less unresolved grief with open adoptions.
  3. Myth: Adopted children are not loved as much as biological children.
    1. Fact: An adopted child can be loved by both his/her adoptive parents and his birthmother or birth parents.
    2. Fact: Adoptive parents can love an adopted child as fully and selflessly as biological parents. They provide a loving, stable and nurturing environment. Many adoptive parents have longed for a child for a long time. Or they enjoy parenting so much that they want to grow their family through the miracle of adoption.
    3. Fact: Nearly 3 out of every 4 adopted children ages 0-5 are read to or sang to every day. Only half of non-adopted children receive this same attention from their parents.
    4. Fact: Most birth mothers welcome contact with their placed children. According to the NIH study, “80% of the birth mothers felt positively about being contacted. While 5% felt neutral, 15% felt ambivalent, and none felt negatively about a child-initiated search.”

If someone you know is facing an unintended pregnancy, she may or may not be considering adoption. If she talks about adoption, keep in mind the common myths and the facts about adoption. Be a supportive friend. And if she asks, share this information with her too.

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