Author: BK Writing Support

choosing baby adoption

5 Things to Consider Before Choosing Adoption

Choosing to place your baby for adoption is a difficult decision. Women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy may consider adoption as an alternative to having an abortion. Opting to carry your baby to term and place them with a loving family is the ultimate act of love for a child. Care Net Albuquerque recognizes that even if you select adoption, you likely have many questions that need answering before you commit to your decision. We are here to help you with the adoption journey, helping to answer those questions and recommending resources that can guide you through the process. Here are the top five questions many women have about adoption for their baby.

Question #1: How else can you say, “give up for adoption?”

The phrase, “give up for adoption” is a common one when describing the adoption process. Just because the phrasing is familiar does not mean it is the language you prefer to use when talking about your choice. Placing your child for adoption is not about giving him or her “up.” It is one of the toughest decisions a birth mother can make. When you know that you are not equipped to raise a child for any reason, and abortion is not an option you wish to pursue, adoption is a proactive, courageous, and loving fallback.

So, what do you say in place of “giving up for adoption?” Some replacement suggestions include:

  • “I am choosing adoption for my child.”
  • “I am creating an adoption plan.”
  • “I am placing my baby for adoption.”

Question #2: How do you start the adoption process?

Once you have decided that adoption is the best option for your pregnancy, understanding the adoption process is key to finding the best family for your baby. Care Net’s team can help you with the basics of adoption, including walking you through the steps involved. Here is an overview of what you can expect.

  • Choosing an adoption agency. This is arguably the most difficult part of adoption after deciding to place your baby. While Care Net is not an adoption agency, we can make recommendations for reputable organizations that can guide you through the rest of the process.
  • Picking an adoptive family. Whether you opt for open adoption or closed adoption, birth mothers can choose the family who will adopt their baby. This can make your decision easier since you have the final say in who will raise your baby.
  • Completing the adoption. Every adoption plan should include instructions for the baby’s delivery. Once your baby is born, you will be asked to complete the adoption paperwork that grants the adoptive family custody of the baby.

This is only an overview of the adoption process. Adoption specialists, sometimes called adoption social workers, with the adoption agency can answer any other questions you have before you make your decision.

Question #3: How much does it cost to choose adoption?

Placing your baby with an adoptive family is one of the most difficult decisions a birth mother can make. It is an emotional time for everyone involved. Since the financial costs of pregnancy and child-rearing often are a motivating factor in choosing adoption, the adoption process always is free for the prospective birth mother. Depending on the adoption agency you choose, birth mothers may be eligible for adoption financial assistance to help with expenses like food, rent, and prenatal care for you and the baby. Adoption specialists will ensure your adoption journey is as stress-free as possible.

Question #4: Will you get to see your baby after adoption?

Whether you continue to have a role in your baby’s life after the adoption depends on the type of adoption you choose. Birth mothers who wish to maintain a relationship with their children should choose open adoption. Open adoption allows birth mothers and adoptive families to have ongoing contact that can include phone calls and even visitation. Open adoptions are recommended as the best option for children for many reasons. Semi-open adoptions provide the birth mother with the opportunity to meet the adoptive parents. Ongoing communication after that is not as common as it is with open adoption. If you choose a semi-closed or closed adoption, there is no contact with the adoptive family.

Question #5: Who can help you place your baby for adoption?

Adoption is a life-changing journey for birth mothers. There are caring professionals in place who can guide you through the process and ensure you have the support you need. Choosing an adoption agency that aligns with your beliefs always is a vital resource for your adoption experience. Reputable adoption agencies assign birth mothers adoption specialists who can answer all their questions and provide support resources.

Get free help from caring professionals

Need help getting started? Not sure you want to place your baby for adoption? Care Net can help. You do not have to go through the process alone. Our caring team members are here to help you through every step of your journey. Call any of our center locations to schedule an appointment with us.

STD birth defects baby

STDs and Birth Defects: Protect Your Baby

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can cause birth defects and other problems for a developing baby. It is very important that women – and their partners – get tested for the most common STDs/STIs once they confirm their pregnancy. When left untreated, STDs and STIs can pass from the mother to her baby, causing serious problems. Birth defects like blindness, deafness, and bone deformities are just some of the ways sexually transmitted diseases and infections harm your baby’s development. If you suspect or know you are pregnant, ask your care provider to test you. Some STDs and STIs have silent symptoms, meaning you never know you have them until it is too late.

Can STDs hurt my baby’s development?

Prenatal care always should include STD testing. STDs and STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, and syphilis can pass to your baby during pregnancy or delivery. Your baby can experience short or long-term health problems once infected. Some of the most common problems include:

  • Blindness
  • Blood infections
  • Brain damage
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Deafness

Babies who are infected with an STD or STI while in the womb also are at higher risk for premature birth and stillbirth. It is not just the baby who is affected by STDs and STIs. Mothers can experience higher rates of miscarriage if their infection is left undetected and untreated. Birth mothers also may suffer from other health complications. Getting tested for STDs is the best way you can help protect yourself and your baby while he or she is developing in your womb.

STD birth defects baby

Which STDs cause the most harm to my baby?

Women are more likely than men to experience long-term health consequences after contracting an STD. Damage to the reproductive system is just one of them. Passing that infection along to your baby can have even more dire outcomes. Let’s look at the six most common STDs and explore the complications they can bring to your pregnancy.

  • Chlamydia is linked to pre-term labor and low birth weight. You can pass it to your baby during vaginal delivery. When detected early, it can be treated with an antibiotic, and measures can be taken to protect your baby during delivery.
  • Gonorrhea, when left untreated,can cause premature birth and low birth weight. It can be passed to your baby during vaginal delivery. Doctors can take precautions during delivery to help reduce the spread of transmission.
  • Hepatitis B causes the greatest risk to your baby if it is contracted shortly before delivery. Transmission to your baby during a vaginal delivery is preventable if infants are treated immediately after birth.
  • Hepatitis C can cause low birth weight and increase the risk of premature birth. Babies also can develop a type of liver infection when exposed in the womb.
  • HIV can pass from a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy, labor, and vaginal delivery. Breast-feeding also is a risk for babies when the mother has HIV. When detected early, steps can be taken to help reduce transmission.
  • Syphilis is linked to premature birth, stillbirth, and in some rare cases, death after birth. Untreated babies have a high risk for complications involving several organs.

How are STDs treated during pregnancy?

Some STDs, like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis can be treated and cured during pregnancy with antibiotics. STIs caused by viruses, like hepatitis B and C and HIV, have no cure and can only be monitored with the hope of reducing transmission during pregnancy and birth. For instance, antiviral medications are approved for use in pregnant women with HIV to help reduce the chance of transmitting the infection to their babies.

If you test positive for an STD or an STI, you will require close monitoring by your healthcare provider during treatment to ensure your safety and that of your baby.

Preventing STDs and STIs

The only 100 percent effective way to prevent an STD or an STI is to abstain from sex. If you are in a committed relationship with a monogamous partner, you can both get tested to ensure you are safe. Avoid sexual activity until you have confirmation you are disease-free, especially if you are planning to become pregnant. Using condoms can help reduce the transmission of some STDs and STIs, but not all.

Where to get tested

Care Net Albuquerque offers free STD/STI testing for women and their partners at four locations. Contact us to schedule your appointment at the location that is most convenient for you. You will require a follow-up appointment 2 to 7 days after your testing to discuss the results. If your results are positive, our team will refer you and your partner to a treatment center. If you are pregnant and test positive, you must share those results with your obstetrician so they can take preventative measures to reduce transmission to your baby and treat you for the STD/STI if treatment is available.

pregnancy myths

Top 5 Myths About Getting Pregnant

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about getting pregnant floating around out there. Following what you think is solid advice about preventing pregnancy can lead to quite the shock when you find out you are expecting. You are not alone if you share in these misunderstandings. Forty-five out of every 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 in the U.S. experience unintended pregnancies.

Not sure what is fact or fiction when it comes to safe sex practices? We break down the top 5 myths about getting pregnant to help you avoid an unplanned pregnancy.

Myth #1 – You Cannot Get Pregnant While Menstruating

This is probably the most common falsehood about getting pregnant. Many women and their partners are under the impression they can have unprotected sex during their period without any risk of becoming pregnant. While the probability is low, it is not zero. If it is the first or second day of your period, the likelihood you will get pregnant is low. The danger increases starting with day 3 through the end of your menstrual cycle. That is because sperm can survive for up to 5 days in the uterus, even if the woman is menstruating.

Aside from the risk of pregnancy, you also are making it more likely you will contract a sexually transmitted disease or infection if you have unprotected sex during your period. It is best to always use protection when you are intimate with your partner.

Myth #2 – Certain Positions Prevent Conception

Some people believe if they position themselves a certain way after sex it makes it impossible to get pregnant. Despite what you may have heard, standing up during intercourse will not keep sperm from finding its way to an egg and fertilizing it. That is not how gravity works. It is easy to understand why some people wish this misconception was true. It gives them a free pass to be intimate with their partners without taking precautions to prevent pregnancy or STDs/STIs.

Myth #3 – You Cannot Get Pregnant the “First Time”

Believing that you cannot get pregnant if it is your first time having sexual intercourse is a costly mistake. If you are a woman of fertile age, all it takes is having sex one time, and you can become pregnant. You must use contraception every time you are intimate with your partner unless you are OK with potentially becoming pregnant.

pregnancy myth condom

Myth #4 – Birth Control Always Prevents Pregnancy

Again, this is another popular myth. This does not mean you should never use contraception. Quite the opposite. When used properly, condoms are 98 percent effective at preventing pregnancy. Condoms also prevent STDs and STIs. Another popular form of contraception is the birth control pill. It is 99 percent effective at preventing unplanned pregnancy when taken as directed. Where some women get into trouble with the pill is they forget to take it at the same time every day or may even forget to take it for days at a time. When this happens, you increase your chances of becoming pregnant. Even if you rely on other birth control methods, use a condom every time to help protect against diseases and infections.

Myth #5 – The Morning-After Pill is Safe for Everyone

If you have had unprotected sex, or your birth control method fails, Plan B, also known as the “morning-after pill,” is what most women turn to for preventing pregnancy. It is available without a prescription and contains high doses of hormones intended to interfere with fertilization.

While you do not need a prescription from your doctor to use it, the morning-after pill is not safe for everyone and has some serious side effects. Women who are using certain prescription medications should avoid taking Plan B. It also is not guaranteed to prevent fertilization, which means even if you take it within the 72-hour window after having unprotected sex, you can still become pregnant.

What to do if you become pregnant

Sometimes you can take all the right precautions and still find yourself facing an unplanned pregnancy. Abstinence is the only 100 percent guaranteed way to prevent pregnancy. Women and their partners do not have to face pregnancy alone. Care Net offers free pregnancy testing and free limited pregnancy ultrasounds. We can confirm your suspected pregnancy and provide resources for making the best decision. Care Net is a judgment-free zone. We have your best interests at heart and will help you access the healthcare services and other resources you need. Contact us to schedule your free consultation today.  

affordable childcare services

How to Find Affordable Childcare Services

Finding affordable childcare services often is a deciding factor in whether a woman keeps her baby. On average, parents spend $750 per child per month for childcare, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Costs can vary by state, but childcare easily is the biggest expense most families face. The ever-increasing costs of childcare can be especially daunting for single mothers, who already may struggle to make ends meet with one income. Dual-income households also require the support of reliable childcare services.

affordable childcare services

Why does childcare cost so much?

Blaming the cost of childcare on staff wages is not logical since most daycare workers make about $12 per hour or less in the U.S. Some childcare centers offer benefits to their employees. Childcare centers that are federally funded like Head Start, or that are affiliated with larger organizations (churches, universities), are the most likely to offer benefits like healthcare and paid time off.

The more likely culprit for higher childcare costs is the number of state and federal regulations to which the industry is subjected. For instance, some states require low caretaker-to-child ratios, which means childcare facilities must hire more staff to meet those mandates. High turnover rates among staff also drive up costs since employers must not only pay to conduct a job search but for any training new employees need during the onboarding process.

Tips for lowering childcare costs

One of the best things you can do soon after you find out you are pregnant is to start exploring childcare options. Starting early means you have time to secure an affordable and reliable option before others are in the game.

Here are some other things you can do to lower your childcare costs:

  • Set a budget. Once you know your budget, you can decide whether in-home daycare centers, part-time sitters, or a nanny share would work best for your situation.
  • Talk to your employer. Some employers offer a Dependent Care Account (DCA). A type of Flexible Spending Account, it allows you to set aside up to $5,000 tax-free each year to pay for childcare services. There is a downside to a DCA. Any amount left over at the end of the fiscal year is forfeited. This means you must budget carefully to make sure you spend every cent in the account, so you are not losing income. You must keep receipts and other accounting records and submit them to the DCA for reimbursement.
  • Use your childcare tax credit. If you itemize your taxes, you can claim up to $3,000 per child, per tax year for all childcare-related expenses. There is a $6,000 annual cap per family. While it is possible to use a DCA and childcare tax credits, any DCA money is applied to the tax cap first.
  • Explore non-profit options. Nonprofit organizations like the YMCA and local churches may offer affordable childcare alternatives in your community. Some of these organizations, like the YMCA, base your childcare tuition on your income. They can afford to do this because they may receive state or federal funding to help operate their childcare center, which allows them to offset costs.

Community referrals for childcare services

The costs associated with daycare should never be the reason a mother chooses to keep her baby. At Care Net, we believe in providing ongoing support to families who choose life. While we do not offer childcare services through our organization, our team is skilled in helping you to locate affordable and reliable childcare options. Need assistance paying for childcare? We can help with that, too. Care Net has an available list of funding resources to which we can refer our clients. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation. 

parenting education class

Should you take a parenting education class?

Taking a parenting education class is one of the best ways to prepare for raising a child. A parenting education program can help new parents gain valuable child-rearing skills and become more confident in their ability to start a family. Whether your pregnancy is unexpected, or you and your partner have been trying to conceive, taking a free pregnancy education class at Care Net can help you prepare for your baby’s arrival. When parents have the tools and support needed to grow their parenting skills, their children reap the rewards.

If you and your partner are still on the fence about enrolling in a parental education program, take a closer look at the benefits.

Parenting education helps you master the basics

Basic childcare is a concern for many first-time parents. When you take a parenting course at Care Net, we cover everything from feeding schedules to health issues. You also learn how to determine your parenting style and craft a parenting strategy that focuses on your parenting personality. Care Net recognizes that children have different needs depending on their age. Our free parenting classes cover every stage in your child’s life. By the time you “graduate” from our classes, we make sure you have the essential tips needed to shape your parenting skills and abilities.

Parenting education instills confidence

Becoming a parent is one of the most exciting – and terrifying – things that can happen to you. If this is your first child, you probably have a lot of questions. Should you use cloth or disposable diapers? How often do you need to feed the baby? How much sleep does your baby need? A parenting education program addresses these and many other parenting-related concerns.  Parenting is equal parts knowledge and courage. Even when you know what to do, you still may hesitate. Gaining confidence in your ability to care for the needs of that tiny person and help them thrive is one of the top priorities for prenatal education providers.

Parenting education teaches parent-child engagement

One of the most pressing questions many parents have is how to connect with their children. When you have a newborn, engagement looks much different than when your child becomes a toddler and eventually a teenager. Parental involvement is one of the most important factors in the success of a child as he or she grows. Not only academically, but socially and emotionally. Care Net’s free parenting education program teaches parents what to expect at every stage of their child’s development. We offer practical strategies for meeting their basic needs, plus how to meaningfully engage with your child on all levels.

Parenting education provides a support network

This is one of the biggest benefits of participating in one of our education classes. Parenting is hard, whether you are brand new to it or are on your third child. Meeting other parents who are struggling with the same questions and concerns is comforting. It also is one of the best ways to build a network of support. This is especially critical for single moms, who may not have family or friends they can rely on for assistance once the baby arrives.

What to expect from parenting education classes

Care Net’s free parenting education program is comprehensive. Women and their partners (or a supportive family member) learn:

  • How to meet basic needs such as food, shelter, and protection.
  • How to provide emotional support to help children develop critical life skills.
  • How to ensure physical safety for your child.
  • How to build social skills to help your child communicate successfully.

How to sign up for a class

Signing up for a parenting education program is easy. Contact us today to get started on your parenting journey.

choosing adoption over abortion is a viable pregnancy alternative

Why You Should Choose Adoption Over Abortion

Finding out you are unexpectantly pregnant can cause a flood of emotions. Some women are scared or anxious, while others are excited and nervous. Whatever your feelings, they are perfectly OK. That includes being confused about the best way to handle a pregnancy. For women who are not yet ready for the lifelong commitment of child-rearing, abortion is a pregnancy option they may consider. There are alternatives to abortion if you find yourself pregnant and unable to raise a child. Choosing adoption over abortion is another possibility.

What are the benefits of adoption?

Only you can decide which pregnancy option is right for you. There are benefits to adoption that are not possible with the abortion alternative. Some adoptions are “open,” which means you can be a part of your child’s life after birth. This is one of the biggest benefits of choosing adoption for your unexpected pregnancy. You can watch your child grow while forming a relationship with the adoptive family. It allows you a window into your child’s life while relying on others who are committed to raising him or her.

There also are several benefits to your child, including:

  • Financial stability. Adoption in the United States is not cheap. Families who commit to the process are financially stable, which means your child will have greater opportunities in life.
  • Increased opportunity. Most adoptive parents are college-educated, which means they support advanced learning opportunities for their children.
Choosing adoption over abortion means you may have a chance to see your baby grow up with a loving family.

When to consider adoption over abortion

How do you know when to choose adoption over abortion? There are many reasons why women and their partners opt for adoption. One of the biggest contributing factors is the unpreparedness (or unwillingness) to become parents. Parenting is hard. Not everyone is suited to the task or feels ready to take on the responsibility. If this is how you feel, adoption is an alternative to parenthood.

Some women are lacking financial stability or the help of a committed partner. They know they cannot do it alone, and so they may consider adoption as a substitute to raising their baby alone.

Lacking a strong support system also can influence women toward adoption. This is especially true for women who do not have the help or cooperation of the baby’s father.

Sometimes women know they are unable to raise their child, but also know they are unwilling to have an abortion. For these women, adoption is ideal.

Types of adoption

If you are considering adoption, there are four different types of adoption plans. Birth mothers should make sure they fully understand how adoption works before agreeing to place their baby with an adoption agency. The staff at Care Net is trained to help you make sense of your choices and guide you to reputable adoption agencies should you choose this route for your pregnancy.

Here are the four types of adoption most agencies offer:

  • Open adoptions, which we previously discussed, allow the adoptive family and birth mother to have an ongoing relationship. The extent and frequency of the relationship are determined by the adoptive family and agreed upon at the time adoption paperwork is signed by both parties. Open adoptions are the best option for the child and Care Net encourages you to consider this if it is an option with the adoption agency you choose.
  • Semi-open adoptions are not available through every agency. When they are, they are an ideal way for the birth mother to meet the adoptive family and get to know them before the baby is born. With this option, ongoing contact with the adoptive family is not as common as it is with open adoptions.
  • Semi-closed adoptions allow birth mothers to choose their baby’s adoptive parents. Adoption agencies provide the birth mother with profiles of prospective adoptive families and leave the final decision on whom to pick up to her. There is no contact between the birth mother and adoptive family.
  • Closed adoptions provide confidentiality to birth mothers and adoptive families. In this scenario, adoption agencies serve as an intermediary between the two parties. The agency chooses the adoptive family based on its criteria. There is no contact between the birth mother and adoptive family.

Next steps in choosing adoption over abortion

If adoption is a pregnancy option you wish to consider, Care Net can help guide you through the process. We offer pre-adoption and post-adoption education services for birth mothers. Our supports are designed to help women:

  • Navigate through the adoption process.
  • Access a support advocate.
  • Fully explore their thoughts and feelings about their pregnancy and pregnancy options.

Women who need ongoing support can find it with us. Contact us to learn more about adoption as a pregnancy option, or to receive assistance with the adoption process.

New Mom, Baby

Top 7 Tips for First-Time Moms

Becoming a mother for the first time is an amazing experience. Your new baby will bring you more joy than you can possibly imagine. Holding your little one for the very first time is a feeling you will never forget.

We would be lying if we said first-time motherhood was not also a tad bit anxiety-inducing. Moms worry about all sorts of things before – and after – their precious babes come into this world. Some of the most common fears include not bonding with your baby, an inability to breastfeed, or accidentally hurting him or her.

Worrying is perfectly normal. You know what is not typical? Expecting you will be a perfect mom right out of the gate. The truth is, no mom ever is on her game 100 percent. There is no such thing as the perfect mom. Whether she has one child or five, motherhood is full of surprises and every mom makes mistakes.

While you still have time to plan, here are some helpful tips to soothe those first-time mom jitters.

Tip #1: Pick and choose

One thing that is certain when you are pregnant is you will receive a ton of advice from well-meaning people. They will share their secrets of great parenting. Some will be more insistent than others about what you should and should not do once your little one arrives. The truth is what works for one mom is not necessarily going to give you the same results. Take for example the age-old advice to “nap while your baby is napping.” While that sounds great in theory, some moms simply may not need to nap when their baby is sleeping. It is perfectly OK to choose which advice works best for you and ignore the rest. Every baby is different, and every mom is unique, too.

Tip #2: Lose the germ obsession

Do not get us wrong. We are not suggesting that there are not steps you should take to keep your baby healthy. Obsessing over germs is not the best approach. It is the quickest way to drive yourself mad. Keeping your baby away from people who are feeling under the weather is the best approach. You also can ask visitors to kindly wash their hands before holding your baby and to avoid getting in their little faces. Babies are irresistible, but it is best to ask others to keep their lips to themselves to help prevent the spread of disease. Remember to be smart about protecting your baby’s health without going overboard.

Tip #3: Do not sweat the bad days

Tending to a newborn is can be challenging at times. It is important to remember you are not a bad mom. Sure, you may have a bad day here or there, but one bad day does not make you a bad mother. Not every day as a mom will be filled with endless joy. Babies and children get sick. Sometimes they refuse to eat healthy food. There will be times when you are exhausted and longing for a little time for yourself. Sometimes you will make the wrong decision when caring for your child. All of this is normal. When you have one of those days, do not sweat it. Own it. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that tomorrow is another day.

newborn, new mom

Tip #4: Share the work

If your partner is part of your pregnancy and child-raising journey, make sure to include them. New moms can be a bit fanatical about worrying that no one else but them can take care of the baby. While it may feel that way, we promise it is not true. It is just your anxiety playing tricks on you. Handing over the responsibility to your partner provides new moms with a chance to tend to their own needs. Yes, you will still have your own needs outside of caring for your baby, and that is perfectly acceptable. Take a nap, soak in the tub, or watch your favorite show while your partner spends quality time with the baby.

Tip #5: Find your tribe

Yes, your partner should be your first line of defense when you need help. If your partner is not a part of your parenting journey, it is time to find your tribe. This is the group of go-to people you can count on when you need them most. They know when to step up to the plate (and when to keep their unsolicited advice to themselves).

Tip #6: Leave the mess

You know who has a perfect home that always looks immaculate? No one, that’s who. When you become a parent, your house becomes a lot messier. It is just a fact of life. The sooner you accept it, the more at peace you will be with it. Even if you have piles of laundry in places they should not be, and last night’s dinner dishes are still in the sink, it is A-OK. What matters most is you and your baby are happy and healthy. Take a deep breath and give yourself permission to leave the mess.

Tip #7: Take time for yourself

Postpartum depression (PPD) affects up to 1 in 7 women. Some of the warning signs of PPD include a loss of pleasure or interest in things you previously enjoyed and eating more or less than usual. New mothers with PPD also may experience racing, scary thoughts. While it is normal to have some anxiety over becoming a new mom, if you are focused on your fears to the point it is interfering with your ability to parent, it is time to reach out for help. Even for women who are not experiencing PPD, it is easy to become overwhelmed when you are a first-time mom. That is why it is important to take time for yourself each day to unwind. If you are worried or anxious, if you are struggling emotionally or physically, then reach out to a trusted friend and speak with your healthcare provider immediately.

A trusted partner for first-time moms

Care Net Pregnancy Centers is a trusted partner for first-time moms. We offer pregnancy and parenting education designed to walk you through the process and prepare you for all the joys and challenges of parenthood. We ensure you are ready to meet all the basic care needs for your baby and have the support you need to succeed. Contact us today to learn more.

STD testing

Top 4 Reasons to Get Tested for STIs / STDs(And How to Get Tested for Free)

When you make the decision to become sexually active, certain consequences come with the choice. One of them is the possibility of becoming pregnant. The other is the chance you may contract a sexually transmitted disease (STD).

STDs, also sometimes called Sexually Transmitted Illnesses (STIs), pose serious health risks to both men and women. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of men and women with an STD continues to rise.  For women who are pregnant, having an STD can be harmful to the baby’s development. Moms who are infected can transmit the disease to the baby in utero. Other risks include:

  • Premature birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Birth defects
  • Death (newborn and mother)

STDs can affect the development of a baby’s eyes, lungs, and liver, causing irreversible damage. If you are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant, it is important to get tested for STDs.

How are STDs spread?

STDs are spread through unprotected vaginal, oral, and anal sex. Even if you are using condoms, some STDs are spread through close contact with the skin and you can still contract them. Genital herpes and syphilis are both examples of highly-contagious STDs, even when using protection.

Other STIs, like Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Gonorrhea, are spread by contact with bodily fluids during sexual intercourse.

Types of STDs and STD symptoms

There are several types of STDs. Some of the most common STDs in the U.S. include:

  • Chlamydia – There are usually no symptoms for men or women with Chlamydia, which is what makes it a dangerous STD. If women are symptomatic, they can experience vaginal discharge, burning with urination, lower abdominal pain, low back pain, nausea, pain during intercourse, and bleeding between menstrual periods. For men, they will have a discharge from the penis, painful urination, and pain or swelling of the testicles. If left untreated, it can cause infertility in both men and women. It can also make women more susceptible to developing Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID).
  • Gonorrhea – Women who have this STD can experience a yellow or bloody vaginal discharge and burning when they pee. Men will have a yellowish-white discharge from their penis and will also have painful urination. Men may or may not have swollen and painful testicles when they are infected. Sterility is a consequence for both men and women who are not treated for this STD.
  • Syphilis – This STD attacks in several stages. In the first stage, you can experience swollen sores that are not painful. You will usually break out in these sores in the area where the infection entered your body. If it is undetected, the second wave of symptoms includes rash, fever, swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, and headaches. You may also experience weight loss, muscle aches, and extreme fatigue. If this STI gets to the third stage without treatment, it can lead to loss of coordination, paralysis, and gradual blindness. If a woman is pregnant with syphilis, it can cause the baby to die in utero.
  • HIV/AIDS – This STI produces a fever, sore throat, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes in both men and women. Without treatment, it will eventually cause your immune system to break down. The virus can be passed from mother to child during pregnancy.
  • Genital Herpes – Painful ulcers are the number one sign you have this STD. They usually appear at the site of infection. You also may have a fever and swollen glands, and experience pain during sex.
  • Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) – This STD causes genital warts that appear in a cauliflower shape. Sometimes people are completely unaware they are infected because they do not have any noticeable symptoms. For women, it may cause vulvar itching and pain. HPV is a contributing factor in developing reproductive cancer.
  • Hepatitis B – The most tell-tale sign of this STI is that it can cause a yellowing of the skin known as jaundice. You also may become fatigued, have dark urine and gray-colored stools, and experience loss of appetite and joint pain.
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) – Lower abdominal pain that is like menstrual cramping is the main symptom of this STD in women. It also can cause fever, irregular periods, painful sex, and painful urination. PID only affects women. However, it can be caused by infections carried by men. PID can be life-threatening if left untreated.

Women are more likely than men to suffer from long-term health consequences from STDs. Both sexually active men and women should consider testing, especially if you have multiple sexual partners or are involved in unsafe sexual behaviors.

Blood Test, STD testing

What tests detect STDs?

The type of STD test you get depends on the STI. Testing can require a urine sample, a swab of the vaginal or anal area, a blood test, or a physical exam. For instance, HPV is detected during a routine gynecological exam that involves a visual inspection and swabbing the area for a pap smear.

If you are diagnosed with an STD, treatment options are available. Many STDs are curable when caught early. Some STDs require treatment with antibiotics. STIs caused by viruses (like HIV/AIDS) can be managed with medications, but not cured.

Top 4 reasons to get tested

When you are sexually active, STDs are a fact of life. Even if it has been a while since you were last sexually active, if you have ever had unprotected sex, you should be tested for STDs. Many people with STDs are unaware they are infected because they have no symptoms or confuse their symptoms with something else. Here are the top 5 reasons to get free STD testing today.

  1. It protects your health
    STDs can live in your body without ever signaling they are there. You can unknowingly infect others. If left undetected and untreated, STDs can lead to serious health conditions like cancer and infertility.
  2. It is easy
    STD testing is not painful and some of the testing can be performed quickly. Some testing requires a blood or urine sample, while others may require a swab of the mouth, anus, or vagina.
  3. It is smart
    Most STDs are treatable. The sooner you know whether you are infected, the sooner you can begin treatment.
  4. It is necessary
    Early detection is the key to successful STD treatment plans. You can be walking around without symptoms, not realizing you are posing a health risk to yourself and others. Getting tested is the only way to know for sure.

Where can I get free STD testing near me?

Care Net Pregnancy Centers offer free STD testing for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea at locations in and around Albuquerque. Making an STD testing appointment with us is easy and confidential. Call 505-880-0882 to schedule an appointment for testing at our Albuquerque location or visit our Contact us page for additional locations. A follow-up appointment will be scheduled for 2 to 7 days after your testing. At the second consultation, we will provide your testing results and discuss options for treatment if you test positive for any STDs. Same-day appointments and walk-ins are welcome.

Abortion alternative

Should I Have an Abortion? Getting the Support You Need to Help You Decide

Finding out you are pregnant can be scary, especially if the pregnancy was unplanned. Maybe you are not ready to be a parent for financial or other reasons. Maybe the baby’s father is not someone you can depend on to help you through your pregnancy and in raising your child. There are many reasons women choose to have an abortion. Having access to the most accurate and complete information about abortion and all your pregnancy options is the best way to approach the decision.

Types of abortion

There are two types of abortion. The kind you have depends on how far along you are in your pregnancy when you make the decision to have an abortion.

Chemical abortions are commonly used for women who are less than 10 weeks pregnant. Two separate medications are used in a chemical abortion, which requires a two-step process to complete. In the first step, women are administered the oral drug called Mifeprex. This drug works by blocking progesterone, a hormone that is necessary for an embryo to survive. Within 48 hours, the woman will take a second medication orally, called Mifepristone. Following the second dose, women can expect to have heavy bleeding and cramping as the contents of their uterus are expelled. Depending on how far along you are, what is expelled can include a fertilized egg or a developing embryo.

Surgical abortions are performed in women who are more than 10 weeks pregnant. The procedure involves opening the cervix and suctioning out the uterus with special medical tools. Depending on the trimester of the pregnancy, additional medical instruments may be required to physically remove the fetus from the womb. There are several levels and procedures involved with surgical abortions. If you decide abortion is the right choice for you, receiving additional information and pre-and post-abortion support is recommended.

Make sure you follow this abortion safety checklist to help protect your health before committing to a termination procedure.

Abortion patient rights

If you are exploring the option of abortion, make sure any pre-abortion counseling or support you receive provides information about your rights. The first and most important is that no one has a right to force you to have an abortion. Not your parents (if you are a minor) and not your partner. It is illegal in Albuquerque to force someone to have an abortion. If this is happening to you, reach out to someone who can help.

Other abortion patient rights include:

  • You have the right to a licensed physician. In New Mexico, only licensed physicians can perform surgical abortions.
  • You have the right to know the physician’s history, including whether they have ever been disciplined by the state medical board or lost their license to practice for any reason.
  • You have a right to know the physician’s malpractice insurance status. Never allow a physician without malpractice insurance coverage to perform your abortion.
  • You have a right to quality care, including before, during, and after your abortion. If there are complications, your physician is required to transfer you to the nearest emergency room for treatment.
  • You do not have to sign away your rights. If a physician or abortion clinic asks you to sign forms saying you will not hold them liable for any serious injuries (or death) from the procedure, refuse to sign them. No reputable doctor or clinic would ever ask you to sign away your rights.

You also have the right to change your mind. Even if you are already prepped and ready for the procedure, it is OK to say you no longer want an abortion. There is no shame in changing your mind at the last minute. It can and does happen.

What are the risks of having an abortion?

Roughly 620,000 legal abortions are performed in the U.S. every year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That does not mean there are no risks to having the procedure. A first-trimester abortion is considered minor surgery and the risks to the mother are relatively low. The risk of complications increases the further along the mother is in her pregnancy. Here are some of the most common risks associated with an abortion.

  • Anesthesia-related complications happen in about 1 of every 5,000 abortions and can include pain, nausea, and anaphylaxis.
  • Blood clots in the uterus and severe cramping happen in roughly 1 percent of all abortions. Suction curettage is required to remove the clotting.
  • Cut or torn cervix happens in fewer than 1 percent of women having an abortion. When it does happen, it occurs when the uterus is stretched to allow surgical instruments access.
  • Hemorrhaging will require repeat suction, medication, and sometimes surgery to repair. While some bleeding after an abortion is normal, heavy bleeding is not and should be reported to a healthcare provider immediately.
  • Perforation of the uterine wall is another possibility. Medical instruments used during an abortion can pierce the uterus in 1 out of every 500 abortions. If the perforation is severe, it can cause infection or heavy bleeding that will require immediate follow-up care.

Where to get abortion support in Albuquerque

Care Net Pregnancy Centers are here for you as you make important decisions about your pregnancy. This is a no-judgment zone. We can help you through every step of your journey. We do not perform abortions at our pregnancy centers. If you choose an abortion, we can offer pre-abortion educational resources and post-abortion support. Contact us today to get the help you need.

pregnancy testing, free pregnancy testing

Free Pregnancy Testing

The only thing more stressful than thinking you are pregnant is having to wait several weeks to know for sure. Over-the-counter pregnancy testing kits are unreliable if used before a period is missed. That can mean weeks of agonizing over whether you are or are not pregnant. When a pregnancy is unplanned, you want to know as soon as possible so you can begin exploring your pregnancy options. 

At our pregnancy help center, you do not have to wait for a missed period to confirm whether you are pregnant. We offer free pregnancy testing at all of our centers in Albuquerque, Moriarty, Rio Rancho, or Los Lunas. Our pregnancy centers use a pregnancy testing method that measures the level of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) hormone in your urine. Known as the “pregnancy hormone,” hCG is normally only produced during pregnancy. Over the counter pregnancy tests also measure hCG in your urine but are not hospital-grade quality and may not be able to detect pregnancy as early as our testing. Our free pregnancy testing can detect hCG within three weeks after your last period. Results are available within 3 to 5 minutes. 

Early signs of pregnancy

Pregnancy begins when the male’s sperm fertilizes or joins with the female’s ovum (egg). The average pregnancy lasts 38-42 weeks. It is divided into three trimesters: 1-12 weeks; 13-26 weeks; and 26 weeks until birth. 

A woman’s body is designed to send signals that fertilization – pregnancy – has occurred. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of pregnancy include:

  • Cravings for or an aversion to certain foods
  • Darkening of the nipples
  • Dizziness or feeling lightheaded
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent urination
  • Heightened sense of smell
  • Late or missed period
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Sore, swollen, or itchy breasts
  • Spotting or abdominal cramping

Why confirming pregnancy is important

Even if you have one or more of these signs and a home pregnancy test is positive, we advise women to make a follow-up appointment with their medical provider or our pregnancy help center to confirm the pregnancy. Home pregnancy tests are not 100 percent accurate. The symptoms listed above could be associated with other conditions. We can schedule a hassle-free appointment for you to confirm the pregnancy. 

The best way to verify pregnancy is with a free limited ultrasound at our pregnancy help center in Albuquerque. Our ultrasound technicians use the technology to verify if you are pregnant. Once pregnancy is confirmed, the ultrasound can provide information about the development level of the fetus, which gives us an estimated due date. That information will be helpful to your medical provider as you weigh your pregnancy options. 

For more information about pregnancy, visit the American Pregnancy Association

Same-day appointments and walk-ins welcome

Our pregnancy help center understands the urgency in confirming a pregnancy so you can begin to explore your pregnancy options. That is why we offer same-day appointments and walk-ins always are welcome. Call us to make your same-day appointment, or simply walk right in and let our front office staff know you would like a confidential and free pregnancy test. 

During your appointment, the first thing we will do is administer the free pregnancy test. If it is positive for the “pregnancy hormone,” hCG, we provide the option of meeting with one of our client advocates to discuss your pregnancy options. Clients also have the option of scheduling a free ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy and help determine how far along they are in the pregnancy. 

Each appointment can take between 30 to 60 minutes. The exact length depends on the services requested. Administering a free pregnancy test that is negative and requires no further counseling or services can be over more quickly. Our pregnancy help center protects your confidentiality during every stage of your visit. All services are administered in a private room under the guidance of one of our trained client advocates. You are welcome to come alone or bring a friend or partner with you for the appointment. 

Contact us to schedule your initial consultation or show up at one of our pregnancy help centers in Albuquerque, Los Lunas, Moriarty, or Rio Rancho during our regular business hours.

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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.