Author: BK Writing Support

abusive relationship

How to Escape an Abusive Relationship

Not all relationships are happy and healthy. Every minute in the U.S., nearly 20 people are physically abused by an intimate partner. Relationships do not have to get physical to be abusive or harmful. Emotional and verbal manipulation counts and can be more difficult to quantify because many people do not realize it is a form of maltreatment. Individuals in an abusive relationship may think their situation is normal or acceptable, but there never is a reason to tolerate cruelty and mistreatment to maintain a relationship.

Abusive relationship signs

Bruises and physical injuries can be obvious warning signs of an abusive relationship. Some signs are more subtle. If you notice any of these things happening in your own relationship, or that of one of your friends or family members, seek help immediately.

  • Your partner accompanies you everywhere. While it is normal to enjoy doing things together with your partner, it is not OK to never have time alone or out by yourself. Abusive people can be controlling. They try to isolate their victims from others who might spot the signs of their malintent.
  • Your partner frequently gaslights you. Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse. It can include humiliation and taunting and claims that you are overly sensitive if you react to the behavior. If you find yourself questioning your reality, then you probably are being gaslit.
  • Your partner delivers “love bombs.” Emotional abuse – emotional attacks, judgment, criticism – often is followed by displays of affection such as apologizing, complimenting, and grandiose gifts.
  • Your partner makes you afraid to leave. Making up and breaking up repeatedly with someone can be a fear tactic common to abuse victims. They may lack the resources to leave their abusers or feel their life or the lives of someone they love is in danger if they do not stay.

Other signs can indicate an abusive relationship, such as a normally social person becoming withdrawn or sudden changes in physical appearance (which may be done to please the manipulative partner).

Abusive relationship cycle

There are four stages of the abusive relationship cycle. The first phase involves a buildup of tension between the two people in the relationship. Abusers lash out at their partners in response to external stressors in their lives, such as trouble at work or fatigue. They shift blame for these problems to their partner and take out their frustration on them either verbally or physically.

The remaining three stages include:

  • Acting out. Once the tension builds up, the next stage involves the act of emotional or physical abuse. Abusive partners may hurl insults, attempt to control your behavior, or engage in sexual violence.
  • Reconciliation. Abusers can be charming. It is why so many people in abusive relationships stay. They believe their partners will change or make more of an effort to control their behaviors. Abusers may even have long periods where they are kind and loving with their partners. The devoted behavior never lasts.
  • Calm. This stage requires one or both partners to come up with an explanation for the abuse. Abusive partners might apologize while shifting the blame to others or point to outside influences to explain their behavior. Sometimes they deny the abuse happened or accuse their victims of provoking them. Even if they show remorse and promise it will never happen again, it will. The abusive cycle will start all over again.

Getting out of an abusive relationship

Hoping and praying an abusive partner will change is not the best solution. Victims can encourage their companions to seek help for their behaviors but should not expect that the person will do so. Many abusers refuse to admit they are the problem and can even be triggered by the very suggestion.

Getting out of an abusive relationship is hard but not impossible. Just remember:

  • You are not to blame for your abuser’s behavior (no matter what they say).
  • You deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
  • You deserve to feel safe and happy.
  • Your children (if you have any) deserve to be safe and happy.
  • You are not alone.

Comfort and guidance for abuse victims

Abuse victims can struggle with the decision to stay or leave their relationships. Care Net can help. We do more than offering help for unplanned pregnancies and STD/STI testing. Our caring staff provides the comfort and guidance abuse victims need to make the choice that is right for them. Contact us today to schedule a confidential appointment to discuss your needs.

free pregnancy test and ultrasound

Pregnant? What’s your next step?

Nausea, fatigue, and those frequent trips to the bathroom can all be indications that a woman might be pregnant. Many women miss those early warning signs and do not suspect pregnancy until they miss a period. Even then, some women still do not worry about it because they may be prone to irregularity. It may take several months to spot – and correctly interpret – pregnancy symptoms.

Whether planned or unintended, a pregnancy can be a life-changing moment for most women. The first thing many women do is buy a home pregnancy test, pee on the stick, and wait for their results to confirm their suspicions. Trusting the results can be a little trickier. While home pregnancy tests claim 99 percent accuracy, they differ in their ability to diagnose pregnancy in women who already have missed a period.

Women who want to be certain about their negative – or positive – pregnancy test results can take a few steps to confirm their results. Getting a free pregnancy test and ultrasound is one of the first things they should do.

What interferes with results?

Women who have a negative test but exhibit typical signs of pregnancy have reason to doubt the results. Home tests work by detecting the presence of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in urine. A few things can interfere with the ability to accurately measure hCG at home. Improperly using the test, testing too soon, using an expired test, and diluting your urine by drinking too much water before taking the test all influence the results. These things usually produce false negatives.

Some medications can mess with home pregnancy test results, triggering false positives. Women using fertility-enhancing medications like Clomid often get incorrect results from home testing. Clomid works by using a “trigger shot” of another medication designed to mature a woman’s eggs and induce ovulation. It can take 10 days for a woman’s system to clear this synthetic form of hCG. Pregnancy testing before the 10 days is up can produce a false positive.

How to be sure you’re pregnant

Free pregnancy ultrasound clinics can help confirm or refute a positive home pregnancy test. Most free pregnancy ultrasound clinics offer women a free pregnancy test and ultrasound. How does this help? Clinics like Care Net Pregnancy Centers of Albuquerque use hospital-grade pregnancy tests that can detect levels of hCG in urine sooner – and more reliably – than over-the-counter pregnancy tests. Our free pregnancy testing centers can detect hCG as soon as three weeks after a woman’s last period. Appointments take between 30 and 60 minutes, but women never have to wait long for an answer. We have results to share within three to five minutes of administering the test.  

If our testing returns a positive result, we follow up with a free pregnancy ultrasound. We do this for two reasons:

  1. To confirm the pregnancy.
  2. To learn information about the development of the fetus to determine an estimated due date.

Our free pregnancy ultrasound can be shared with a woman’s regular OBGYN or another healthcare provider to help guide her pregnancy care.

Free pregnancy ultrasound: what to expect

Free pregnancy ultrasound clinics have trained staff to administer ultrasounds. Women who have never had an ultrasound may have questions about what to expect. Ultrasounds do not use ionizing radiation, so they are safe for both mother and baby. Women must come with a full bladder to their ultrasound to ensure clearer imaging results. We recommend drinking at least 32 ounces of water at least an hour before the ultrasound.

Limited pregnancy ultrasounds answer specific questions about the fetus:

  • Is the pregnancy inside the uterus?
  • Can we measure the baby?
  • Can we hear the baby’s heartbeat?

Our ultrasound technicians do not provide comprehensive evaluations of fetal anatomy, developmental abnormalities, or gender during the ultrasound. Expectant mothers must follow up with their regular healthcare provider for those services. Women who need referrals for healthcare practitioners or other professionals to help them make decisions about their pregnancies can request assistance.

Scheduling a free pregnancy ultrasound

Care Net Pregnancy Care Centers is here to help women through every step of their pregnancies. We offer the services women need to make the best decisions about their pregnancies. We have four locations plus a medical mobile unit. Reach out to us today to schedule your free pregnancy test and ultrasound.

morning sickness

How to Fix Morning Sickness

Morning sickness is an unfortunate side effect of pregnancy. For some women, experiencing the waves of nausea and queasiness clue them in to the fact that they might be pregnant. Not every woman suffers from morning sickness. Only about 70 percent of women report this unpleasant result from pregnancy hormones surging through their bodies. Of those, 3 percent report nausea and vomiting as severe enough to warrant a call to their doctors.

While morning sickness might be a normal part of pregnancy, that does not mean you do not have to silently suffer through it. There are things you can do to help minimize your risk and reduce symptoms if you have them.

What causes morning sickness?

In one word, hormones. Specifically, the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and estrogen. Pregnant women suddenly experience dramatic increases in both estrogen and progesterone, as well as changes in the production and function of other key hormones in their bodies. All these rapid shifts can cause moodiness. They also can cause what is commonly called morning sickness. Do not be fooled by the name. Although it can be more common first thing in the morning, women can be struck by nausea and vomiting at any time during the day.

How long does morning sickness last?

Most women who experience it say the queasiness and throwing up start around their fifth or sixth week of pregnancy. The worst part of it tends to happen around 9 or 10 weeks because that is when levels of hCG are at their highest. Around 11 weeks, hCG levels begin a downward spiral and drop by nearly half around week 15. The good news is for most women, the symptoms resolve by the beginning of the second trimester.

Natural remedies for morning sickness

Women with severe morning sickness who risk becoming dehydrated should contact their healthcare provider immediately. Prescription medications like Reglan and Zofran can help extreme cases of nausea and vomiting. If your morning sickness is mild to moderate, these natural approaches can help ease your discomfort.

  1. Eat smaller, more frequent meals
    While eating may be the last thing on your mind when you have nausea, not eating can make your upset stomach worse. Eating a large meal is not the best approach (and just gives your stomach more ammunition to expel). Instead, focus on eating smaller meals more often. Instead of the typical breakfast, lunch, dinner routine, try having five to six smaller meals spaced out throughout the day. Balance your meal choices with protein and carbohydrates. To ease the early morning get-out-of-bed-queasies, keep some plain crackers or dry cereal at your bedside and have a few before trying to get up.
  2. Avoid trigger foods
    Fatty and greasy foods might taste good going down, but they can wreak havoc on pregnant bellies. The list of foods to avoid list includes those that are too sweet or spicy and raw veggies because they can cause gas. High protein, carbohydrate-rich foods seem to work well for women experiencing morning sickness issues. The blander, the better. Another trick is to avoid eating and drinking at the same time. Try eating your meal first. Wait about 15 to 20 minutes, then drink something.
  3. Avoid strong odors
    Smoke, perfumes, and anything that carries a strong scent – even otherwise pleasing smells – can trigger nausea in pregnant women. Some women report not being able to tolerate the odor of cooking meat and other dishes they once enjoyed. Pregnant women who must cook should open windows and turn on ventilation systems to help keep odors at a minimum.
  4. Take prenatal vitamins at the right time
    Iron is one of the many vitamins and minerals pregnant women need to stay well and to help the healthy development of their babies. Prenatal vitamins include higher doses of iron than what is found in regular daily vitamins. When taken on an empty stomach, that extra iron can trigger your nausea and vomiting. Instead of taking prenatal vitamins in the morning, consider taking them at bedtime. That gives your body time to absorb the iron in case you experience nausea and vomiting in the morning.
  5. Stay hydrated
    Throwing up can cause dehydration, which is not a good thing during pregnancy. It might seem like a fruitless effort when your stomach is queasy, but the more dehydrated you become, the more you will vomit. It is a vicious cycle. Eating salty foods – which can settle nausea – prompts your body’s thirst response. You can calm your stomach and drink fluids at the same time. Sports rehydration liquids like Gatorade and Powerade can help stave off dehydration and help with upset tummy at the same time.

Help for pregnant women

Learning how to deal with morning sickness is just one of the things pregnant women must face. Care Net Pregnancy Centers has a multitude of resources for pregnant women and their partners. Reach out to us today to learn how we can help support your healthy pregnancy.

first-time dads

What First-Time Dads Need to Know

Becoming a father for the first time can be a bit intimidating. OK, maybe it is downright terrifying. While fatherhood can be one of the most amazing highlights of your life, it also comes with uncertainties and fears that you now hold a precious life in your hands. Intense emotions, coupled with a lack of sleep in those first days after you come home with a newborn – can be challenging. That is why Care Net is here to help. Sometimes new dads just need a few tips on where to start and how to be the most impactful once their little one is home. Here is some great advice to help you enjoy fatherhood to the fullest.

Commit to hands-on daily care

Building your skills and confidence in any aspect of life requires practice. Get into the routine of doing something and soon, you will master it. Taking care of a baby is no different. New dads must get their hands dirty – no pun intended – right from the very beginning. Before their babies leave the hospital, dads should be helping with their daily care. Dress them, feed them, bathe them, and – yes – change their diapers. When dads spend one-on-one time with their babies, it helps develop an unbreakable bond while developing self-confidence in their parenting abilities. As a bonus, it gives their partners a chance to get some much-needed rest.

Connect through touch

Newborns do not have the best eyesight. At birth, it is somewhere between 20/200 and 20/400. In other words, if something is not within 8 inches, they likely cannot see it well. This is one of many reasons why babies connect best through touch. Skin-to-skin time with birth mothers helps regulate babies’ body temperatures, breathing, and heart rate. Consistent emotional and physical engagement of babies helps their brains develop and provides a sense of comfort and safety. Some studies suggest that babies who have more physical contact with their moms and dads cry less and sleep better. Dads should hold their babies close to their chests so their babies can hear their hearts beating.

Talk to your little one

It is never too soon to start developing a baby’s language skills. Dads can practice talking to their babies by describing things they are doing. For instance, if they are changing a diaper, they can talk the baby through the process and say comforting things like “there we go, dry diaper, all better!” Singing songs and reading bedtime stories also help the baby stay calm and get more familiar with the language and sounds. The more frequently babies hear their parents’ voices, the easier it becomes for them to pick them out from other adults.

Make time for your partner

Having a baby can strain even the best relationships. Staying positive and supporting your partner can help strengthen your connection. Negotiating baby care and discussing parenting expectations before bringing the baby home from the hospital is the best way to ensure no resentment builds. Communication is the key to a happy family. Discuss everything from parenting styles to expectations about intimacy before the baby is here to ensure everyone is on the same page. Be open to discussing feelings before they turn into resentment.

Know when to seek help

Care Net Pregnancy Center is not just about free pregnancy testing (although we offer that, too). We offer valuable resources for men only to help them prepare for fatherhood. Our pregnancy and parenting education classes help both expectant dads and moms prepare for their new arrival. Reach out today to find out how we can help.

crying baby

How to Soothe Your Fussy Newborn

Bringing your newborn baby home from the hospital can be a bit intimidating, especially for first-time parents. Safely transporting your little one home in their car seat is the least of your worries. Once you have your tiny bundle of joy at home, you must attend to their every need. Many first-time parents wonder if they are caring for their babies the right way. It is perfectly normal to have some fears about feeding too much (or not enough) and keeping your baby in fresh, clean diapers.

While it can be unnerving to hear, sometimes babies fuss and there is not much you can do about it. Staying calm is important since babies respond to our emotions. If we become upset, chances are that baby will mimic our behavior. Even when you do everything right, babies sometimes become fussy. Since they cannot tell us what is wrong, it is up to us to decipher their cries and meet their needs. Here are some of the most common reasons why babies cry and what you can do in each situation to soothe them.

Hunger

Newborn babies have three primary jobs: eat, sleep, and poop. For their first four to six weeks of life, babies eat every two to three hours. Breastfed babies may eat more frequently than their formula-fed counterparts. When babies are having a growth spurt, they may engage in cluster feeding, which means they can eat every hour on the hour.

Babies give tell-tale signs that their bellies are empty. Bringing their hands close to their mouths, rooting around looking for mom’s breast, and lip smacking are all the ways in which your little one lets you know they need to eat something and soon. Your baby eventually will get on a regular schedule, so predicting feeding times is easier.

Gas

Babies gulp a lot when they are eating. With each gasp, they suck in air that builds up in their tummies. Before you know it, your baby has a tummy ache from gas buildup. Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between a hungry baby and a gassy baby. When seeking comfort from a gas-filled belly, some breastfed babies will root around for mom’s breast to self-soothe. Eating will only make their tummy pains worse. The best way to prevent a gassy baby is to burp your baby after every feeding. Hold your baby in an upright position with their head above your shoulder, then use gentle pats on the back to help them relieve themselves of trapped air bubbles in their tummies. If chronic gas becomes an issue, talk to your pediatrician about using Mylicon drops to give your baby relief.

Dirty diapers are one of the most common reasons a baby fusses. Babies can urinate once an hour and have a bowel movement four to five times daily.

Dirty Diaper

Diapers are a staple for your baby until he or she is old enough to potty train. Most newborns need a diaper change every two to three hours. Babies can urinate every hour or two and have between two and five bowel movements each day. Never leave your baby in a poopy diaper. Doing so can cause skin irritation that makes your baby uncomfortable. When your baby’s bottom is sore, it can make them inconsolable. Be sure to use fragrance-free baby wipes and apply rash cream after every diaper change to prevent problems before they start.

Overstimulated

Babies can become overstimulated quickly. Lights, sounds, and constant activity around them can overwhelm newborns. If you sense your baby is becoming overstimulated, take him or her to a quiet place to cuddle quietly. Swaddling your baby snugly and allowing them to self-soothe with a pacifier or their thumb can help them calm down sooner.

Tired

Until they are about three months old, babies will sleep between 14 and 17 hours a day. They usually break down their daily sleep schedules into naps of two to four hours each. Like feeding, you eventually will be able to predict when your baby is ready for a rest. Overtired babies cry. A lot. Try to spare yourself and your baby from a tired meltdown by watching for signs of sleepiness that include rubbing their eyes, pulling at their ears, and closing their fists. If you miss the warning signs and end up with an overtired baby who is fussing, swaddle them and play some calming sounds from a white noise machine to help them de-escalate and fall asleep.

Colic

If your newborn engages in frequent, prolonged crying fits, he or she may be suffering from colic. Parents can become quickly frustrated with a colicky baby because no amount of soothing helps. Colic peaks around six weeks of age and start to decrease in frequency around four months of age. It happens most frequently during the overnight hours. If you suspect your baby suffers from colic, talk with your pediatrician for steps you can take to help lessen the severity and duration of your baby’s colicky episodes.

Becoming a confident parent

Raising a child is one of the most challenging things you will ever do. Care Net is here to help by giving you the resources you need to feel confident in your parenting abilities. We offer pregnancy and parenting education classes that help expectant mothers and their partners know what to expect during pregnancy and after birth. Taking one of our classes can help empower new parents. Contact us today to explore our parenting class options or to sign up.

open adoptions

Open Adoptions: 5 Tips for Birth Parents

Placing your baby for adoption is never an easy decision. Birth mothers who make this choice do so with the best interests of their babies in mind. Choosing adoption does not mean a birth mother must completely sever all ties with her baby. There are four different types of adoption. One of those kinds is open adoption.

Open adoptions allow the birth mother and the adoptive family to maintain an ongoing relationship. Contact methods and their frequency – letter writing, phone calls, visitation – between the birth mother and child are established as part of the pre-adoption agreement. Adoption agencies recommend open adoptions, when possible, because they are the best option for the child. Adopted children naturally have questions about their birth parents as they get older. Maintaining a relationship with their birth parents also provides easy access to information about ethnicity and medical history, among other things.

Agreeing to an open relationship with your child and their adoptive family is one thing. Knowing how best to carry it out is another. Here are five tips for birth parents to help form and preserve a healthy relationship for everyone involved.

1 – Acknowledge boundaries

It is important for adoptive children to understand the role of their birth parents in their lives. There are several ways to help them recognize relationships while maintaining respect for the adoptive family. Decide in advance what your child will call you. Mom is likely inappropriate since that role will be filled by the adoptive mother. Some adoptive families may be OK with a scenario where adopted children call their birth mothers’ mom, but that may be confusing for the child. Most birth parents have children call them by their first names. Birth parents should be open about how visitations make them feel, and not be afraid to ask for a break if seeing their child becomes too emotional. Honesty is the best policy with open adoptions for all parties involved.

2 – Respect adoptive parents

Tempting as it may be, it is never appropriate to overstep your boundaries as a birth parent and go against the wishes of the adoptive parents. Once you agree to the adoption, you effectively hand the overall decision-making for your child to their adoptive parents. Never insert your opinions or try to force your parenting preferences. It is OK to ask how they are doing and offer support when needed, but never cross the line between offering help and making demands.

3 – Maintain contact

Open adoptions require two-way communication between birth parents and adoptive parents. Establish appropriate times to call and how often you should make contact. Never take it personally if adoptive parents want to restrict access and communication in the days immediately following the baby’s release into their care. Newborns have many needs, and it can be time-consuming to keep up with them. Not to mention the fact that parents of newborns are just plain exhausted, so they need extra grace during this busy time.

4 – Plan ahead

Popping in to say hi without prior notice to adoptive parents is never appropriate. Plan ahead and schedule the times you will be visiting with your child. In addition to choosing dates and times, let adoptive parents know how long your visit will last and then stick to that plan. Pick a place for the visit that is comfortable for all parties. Parks and other places where you can engage in a structured activity with your child offer the best experience. When the visit is over, take time to schedule the next one or arrange for a time to discuss future plans so that everyone is on the same page.

5 – Seek assistance

It is OK if the birth parents and adoptive parents need help navigating the best way to proceed with maintaining an open relationship. Many adoption agencies will facilitate this kind of planning. If they do not, Care Net Pregnancy Centers of Albuquerque can assist. We offer pre-adoption and post-adoption education services to birth mothers. They are designed to help navigate through the adoption process, provide access to a support advocate, and offer the opportunity to fully explore thoughts and feelings.

Birth mothers struggling with their decision to adopt may need ongoing support. We can help. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

birth mother adoption

What to Expect After Going Through Adoption

Finding out you are pregnant when you were not planning to start a family can be overwhelming. Some women know from the moment they see the positive pregnancy test that they are not at a place in their lives where they can raise a child. Others may not be sure how they want to move forward and spend time exploring their options.

Women who decide not to keep their babies – but who are not interested in having an abortion – may choose to place their baby for adoption. Healthy women who can carry their babies to term find adoption a reasonable alternative to abortion. There are four different types of adoption plans available to birth mothers and their partners. The one you choose determines how involved you will be in your baby’s life after the adoption process is complete.

Adoption agencies guide birth mothers on the journey, making sure they have what they need to enjoy a healthy pregnancy and a positive birth experience. What happens to the birth mother after the baby is born and placed with his or her new family? Care Net Pregnancy Centers of Albuquerque can provide expectant mothers with the assistance they need before, during, and after the baby’s birth and placement. Here is what you can expect once your baby is with his or her adoptive family.

Feelings of grief, guilt, and loss

Even if you opt for open adoption and have some involvement in your baby’s life, birth mothers can still go through periods where they feel profound grief and loss. An adoption is a life-changing event for the child and the birth parents. Birth mothers, especially, may find themselves going through what is known as the five stages of grief. The term was made famous by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and includes denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Birth mothers may go through some or all these stages. Birth mothers who are unsure whether they can completely cut ties with their children should opt for open adoption. Care Net’s staff can put birth mothers in touch with adoption agencies that offer this option.

Another common feeling after an adoption is guilt. It is human nature to second-guess our decisions in life. Placing a child for adoption is one of the most difficult decisions a woman and her partner will ever make. Feeling guilty afterward is normal, especially for women who may be relieved by their choice not to raise their children.

Difficulty forming relationships

Persistent feelings of grief, guilt, and loss can make it difficult for birth mothers to form meaningful relationships after placing their children for adoption. If shame is part of the equation after an adoption, birth mothers may feel like they can never be open and honest with new people in their lives without the fear of judgment for their decision. Choosing adoption is one of the most loving things birth mothers can do for their babies. Birth mothers who struggle with this – and with forming new relationships because of it – can find solace in sharing their stories with other women in the same position. Care Net’s staff can put birth mothers in touch with group counseling options that allow them to explore their feelings with other women going through the same experience.

Dealing with inappropriate questions

Some people have no filters when it comes to the questions they blurt out. Even some otherwise well-meaning people can say the most insensitive things to birth mothers who have chosen adoption for their babies. As a rule, you should never ask someone questions about something as personal as adoption. If they are comfortable sharing their experiences and feelings with you, then they will do so voluntarily. Birth mothers who encounter individuals who lob inappropriate and insensitive comments or questions at them can tell the person calmly and politely they are not comfortable discussing the matter. If people persist in their rudeness, birth mothers are under no obligation to continue the conversation and should remove themselves from the situation.

Counseling – especially group counseling with other birth mothers who placed their children for adoption – can be helpful in learning tips and techniques for dealing with intrusive people. Our staff can put birth mothers in touch with a support advocate as part of our post-adoption education services who can review group counseling options.

Care Net helps struggling birth mothers

The nurturing staff at Care Net helps struggling birth mothers through the adoption process. We are here for you every step of the way. Our judgment-free zone is designed to help birth mothers make the best choice for their pregnancy. Contact us today to schedule your free appointment.

surprise pregnancy

Surprise Pregnancy? Do These 5 Things Now

A surprise pregnancy can leave you feeling anxious and unsure of what to do next. You may feel like you failed somehow and panic about the next steps you must take to respond. You are not alone. Finding out you are pregnant is a shock for nearly half of all women in the U.S. each year. The latest figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal that millions of women – married, unmarried, young, and old – deal with unexpected pregnancies.

Once you get past the initial shock, there are five things you can do to begin addressing your situation.

1 – Verify the surprise pregnancy

This may seem like common sense, but sometimes you get so caught up in the moment you forget that home pregnancy tests can produce false positives. Home pregnancy tests measure the level of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) in your urine. hCG is known as the “pregnancy hormone” because women only produce it in their bodies during pregnancy. The reason some over-the-counter pregnancy tests produce false positives has to do with the quality of the test. Hospital-grade pregnancy tests also measure hCG but can detect the hormone much earlier than OTC tests. Even hospital-grade pregnancy tests require further validation. At Care Net Pregnancy Centers, we confirm all positive pregnancy tests with a free limited pregnancy ultrasound. We can perform an ultrasound six weeks from the first day of your last menstrual period.

2 – Get screened for STDs

One of the steps we recommend following positive confirmation of your pregnancy is STD/STI testing. STDs and STIs pose serious health risks for expectant mothers and can be harmful to your baby’s development. Moms can transmit certain infections to their babies in utero, while others may pass to the baby during vaginal delivery. STDs can affect the development of the baby’s eyes, lungs, and liver. Some of the damage is irreversible. Many STDs are curable with proper treatment. Doctors also can help prevent the spread of non-curable STDs/STIs from mother to baby during delivery when they know about the need early in the pregnancy. Care Net Pregnancy Centers provide free STD/STI testing. Our staff will recommend scheduling the testing if you come to us to confirm your pregnancy.

3 – Consider your options

After you verify your pregnancy, it is time to consider your options. Since your pregnancy was a surprise, you may not be in a place in your life where you can raise a baby. Having children is a huge responsibility, so it is OK if you are not prepared to accept the challenge right now. While some women may opt for an abortion, others do not wish to end their pregnancies. Adoption is a viable alternative. Whatever decision you make about your pregnancy, the staff at Care Net Pregnancy Centers is here for you. We provide pregnancy help to navigate through these uncertain times. Our team ensures you have access to the most accurate and medically sound information to help make your choice. We provide a judgment-free zone for you and your partner. Best of all, our services are free and confidential.

4 – Embrace your feelings

There is no right or wrong way to feel when facing an unexpected pregnancy. It is perfectly acceptable to be angry, depressed, frustrated or overwhelmed. Even if you were not anticipating becoming a parent, maybe you are excited at the prospect and willing to embrace your pregnancy with open arms. Mixed feelings also are normal. You may be thrilled about becoming a mother but also scared to death at the same time. If you are struggling with your emotions and need help sorting through them, do not be afraid to reach out. Care Net Pregnancy Centers can hook you and your partner up with the resources you need to help manage your feelings.

5 – Schedule prenatal care

If you decide to keep your baby or choose to place him or her for adoption, one of the next things you should do is schedule an appointment with an obstetrician to have a wellness check. Expectant mothers have specific nutritional needs and will need an exam to check their overall health and that of the baby. If you work with an adoption agency to place your baby with a loving family, the agency may assist with finding you an OB and paying for all necessary medical care leading up to and including the birth. If you are keeping your baby to raise yourself and need help finding an OB for your ongoing prenatal care needs, Care Net Pregnancy Centers can help. Our community referrals program helps expectant mothers and their partners find everything they need to have a happy and healthy pregnancy, including:

  • Affordable housing
  • Medical assistance
  • Medical services
  • Support groups

Care Net helps you handle surprise pregnancies

Surprise pregnancies do not have to send your life into a downward spiral. Our pregnancy help center is here to walk you through your pregnancy options. We provide accurate information, free pregnancy and STD testing, and connect you with a multitude of resources once you decide how best to handle your pregnancy. Contact us today to schedule a consult.

newborn sleeping

Baby Essentials 101: What Baby Needs at Home

Bringing your newborn baby home from the hospital is exciting and scary all at the same time. Next to discovering you were pregnant, safely transporting your little one from the hospital to his or her new home is a major life event. New parents have a lot of anxiety about bringing their babies home for the first time. Many “what ifs” go through their minds as they worry whether they are prepared to care for this fragile human being without the 24-hour-assistance they received from nurses and doctors at the hospital. Getting your baby home from the hospital is not as scary as you may think with a little advanced planning and the right equipment for the job. Here are some of the baby essentials you will need.

Baby essential #1: A Welcome Home Outfit

Choosing the outfit your little one will wear home for this momentous occasion is one of the least stressful parts of planning. Sometimes new moms pack the outfit long before the baby arrives, placing it in an overnight bag next to her own clothes for the hospital. Others wait and have their partners or family members choose an outfit and bring it to the hospital later. Whichever you choose, it is important to not overdress the baby for the trip home.

A good rule to follow is to dress your baby as you would dress yourself. For instance, if you bring your little one home on a hot summer day, putting a knitted cap on his or her head will likely cause discomfort. In warm weather, a onesie and light cotton pants are appropriate. If you bring your baby home during colder months, dress him or her in footie pajamas and a hat, and cover with a warm blanket.

Baby essential #2: A Proper Child Safety Seat

Even more important than an appropriate outfit for your little one is a proper child safety seat. It is never safe to transport your baby in a vehicle without a car seat. New Mexico law requires all children up to age 7 ride in a child safety seat. For newborns, you must use an infant-only seat that is rear-facing. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends infants and toddlers ride rear-facing until age 2. Never place an infant car seat in the front seat of your vehicle, even when rear-facing. Most vehicles have passenger-side airbags that can seriously injury your baby during a crash.

Parents who need assistance purchasing a car seat have options. If you are enrolled in a government program like Medicaid, SNAP, TANF, or WIC, you are eligible to receive a free car seat. You also can reach out to the New Mexico Child Safety Seat Distribution Program for help with a car seat. The program not only provides free car seats to families but also teaches them how to safely install them in vehicles.

Baby essential #3: An appropriate baby bed

One of the safest places for your newborn to sleep is in your room, but not in bed with you. Co-sleeping is dangerous for newborns. Tired parents easily can roll over onto their babies and suffocate them. Whether you choose a crib or a bassinet, make sure it includes a soft mattress and is free from bedding and toys that can cause suffocation. If you buy a used crib or bassinet, check to ensure it was not recalled for safety or other issues.

Baby essential #4: Diapers and diapering supplies

Newborns basically have three jobs: eat, sleep, and poop. New parents can find themselves going through a lot of diapers, wipes, and other diapering supplies during the first months of their babies’ lives. Since your newborn baby’s weight can fluctuate from one day to the next, you may want to keep newborn and size-one disposable diapers on hand. Other diapering necessities include diaper wipes and baby ointment or cream to prevent diaper rash. Some parents also prefer cornstarch powder, but it is optional.  

Baby essential #5: Clothing and blankets

Babies go through a lot of clothes because they spit up and have diaper blowouts regularly. Make sure you have several outfits, bibs, and blankets on hand to quickly change out when these accidents happen. Some other recommendations include:

  • Nightgowns for use until the umbilical cord falls off to prevent rubbing.
  • Short- and long-sleeved onesies.
  • One-piece sleepers with zippers.
  • Scratch mittens to keep baby from scratching his or her face.
  • Receiving blankets.

Baby essential #6: Bathing supplies

Baby bathtubs are not necessary for giving baby a bath, but most parents find them convenient. You also should have baby washcloths, hooded towels, and baby-safe cleansing products. Baby shampoo and lotion are gentle enough to get baby clean while protecting his or her delicate skin.

Baby essential #7: Medical care products

It is scary to think you may need medical care products for your little one, but parents must be prepared just in case. Here are the things you should include in your infant medical care product kit:

  • Baby scissors or nail clippers for trimming nails.
  • Bulb syringe to suction mucous out from the nose if baby becomes congested.
  • Eyedropper or syringe for administering medication like anti-gas drops or acetaminophen.
  • Thermometer for checking temperature.

Enjoying your new baby

Bringing your baby home from the hospital should be a memorable occasion. When you plan for that special day by including these seven baby essentials, you will have everything you need to keep baby comfortable, happy, and safe.

Need help finding resources for your new parenting adventure? Care Net Pregnancy Center can help. Contact us today to speak with a caring member of our staff who is happy to assist.

STD talk

Talking to Your Partner About STDs

It can be awkward to talk to your partner about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and infections (STIs). There is no reason for embarrassment. If you are comfortable having sexual relations with a person, then you must be mature enough to discuss the difficult things that come along with being in a sexual relationship with someone. Candidly discussing your STD/STI status and insisting on testing is one of the smartest ways you can protect yourself and your partner.

Women who are thinking of becoming pregnant – or who are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy – should get tested immediately. Certain STDs and STIs can cause birth defects or pass to the baby in utero or during vaginal birth. Knowing your status before pregnancy and delivery can help protect the baby.

Here are some practical tips on how to talk to your partner about STDs and STIs.

Know the facts

Before you can educate your partner on the importance of knowing your STD/STI status, you must understand the facts yourself. Spend some time researching the most common sexually transmitted diseases and infections and the negative consequences of contracting them. Make sure you investigate the best ways to prevent STDs/STIs. Not all birth control products, like condoms, prevent all sexually transmitted diseases.

Make sure you are using reliable sources for your information. Google is a great resource, but it does not guarantee all search results are from legitimate sources. One of the best places to find accurate information about STDs and STIs is on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. You also can find reliable data from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Plan what to say

Once you have all your facts, plan how you want to talk with your partner. It may seem silly to write a speech and practice giving it. Difficult conversations require planning and preparation. Talking about STDs and STIs is one of the most important conversations you will ever have with your partner. You do not have to script your talk word-for-word. Write down a few key points about supporting information if your partner has questions. Having a list of nearby places to get tested should be a part of the discussion. Care Net offers free STD/STI screening at select locations.

Schedule the talk

Pick a time that works for you and your partner. Then, pick a quiet place where you are not likely to be disturbed while you talk. Ideally, you should have this conversation before you become sexually active with a new partner. If you already are sexually active, you may wish to refrain from any further relations until you can get tested.

Using “I” statements is one of the most effective ways to have a difficult conversation. It helps prevent the other person from feeling personally attacked. For instance, you could start the talk by saying “I want to relax and enjoy sex, but I won’t be able to do that until I know we are protected from STDs.”

Be a good listener

Good communication involves both listening and talking. Once you have presented your concerns and all supporting facts to your partner, take time to listen to what he or she has to say. If your partner has more questions that you cannot answer, that is the perfect time to pull out that list of resources you compiled. Offer to visit a clinic that offers free STD testing and consultations so that all your questions can be answered by knowledgeable professionals. If your partner refuses to discuss his or her STD/STI status and is not open to getting tested or using protection, you must make the difficult decision of whether you wish to be sexually involved with them.

Schedule the testing

If your partner agrees to get tested, the next step is to find a clinic that offers free STD/STI testing and schedule your visit. You can agree to go together or separately, whichever you and your partner feel most comfortable doing. Care Net offers free testing services. Contact us to schedule your appointment today. Following initial testing, you will require a second appointment 2 to 7 days later to discuss test results. If you or your partner test positive, we can refer you to a treatment center.

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The information and graphics contained on this site are for informational and educational purposes only. This site is designed to promote broad knowledge of various pregnancy or sexual health topics and general understanding concerning pregnancy. It is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice, or professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Pregnancy and other health issues need to be diagnosed by your physician or other qualified health care provider in person. Home tests and online discussions do not qualify as diagnosis or advise for treatment. Make an appointment with one of our center medical team or with your physician to discuss any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment, and before undertaking a new health care regimen. Follow your medical provider’s instructions and never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read on a website or social media.