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.

pregnancy, fatherhood

Just for Men: 5 Ways to Support Your Partner’s Pregnancy

Most men understand that when it comes to an unplanned pregnancy, the decision about how it is handled ultimately is up to their partners. Once a missed period happens, a whirlwind of emotions can overtake both you and your partner. Just because the final decision about whether an abortion, adoption, or parenthood is up to the woman, that does not mean men cannot be involved in the process. 

Most women value – welcome, even – input from their partners. Keep in mind that input does not equal overbearing demands or threats hurled at your partner. Those kinds of behaviors will alienate you and your partner and are not healthy emotionally for either of you. How you choose to respond, and the actions you take after finding out about the pregnancy, can help influence your partner’s decision. 

Once you confirm the pregnancy, here are a few things men can do to support their partners’ pregnancy decisions. 

#1 – Educate Yourself About Pregnancy Options

There are many options for dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. One of the most important steps you can take together is to educate yourselves on all pregnancy options available. Care Net is your premier abortion clinic alternative in Albuquerque. Our caring and supportive staff will present all information about pregnancy options to you and your partner as part of the free pregnancy help services that we offer all clients. Information about abortion, adoption, and parenthood are discussed. No matter which route you choose, Care Net provides ongoing support. 

#2 – Practice Active Listening

Active listening is a technique that requires carefully listening to spoken words while observing non-verbal cues. From the moment your partner tells you she may be (or confirmed she is) pregnant, you must put on your “listening ears” if you want to be viewed as a beacon of support. Ask her about her thoughts and feelings. Is she excited about being pregnant, or scared and uncertain? Does she have any initial thoughts about what she wants to do? Let her know that no matter how she is feeling, it is OK to express those thoughts and feelings to you. Make sure she feels like she is in a safe space for sharing. 

#3 – Share Your Thoughts and Feelings

Once your partner has had a chance to express how she feels, it is your turn to be brutally honest. Keep in mind it is OK to not be excited about a pregnancy. It also is OK to be totally confused about how you are feeling. There are no wrong feelings about pregnancy. There are only wrong ways to express them. If you are feeling negative about the pregnancy, make sure you express your feelings in a constructive way. Lead with “I” statements so your partner does not feel personally attacked. For instance, you could say something like “When you told me you were pregnant, I felt nervous because I am not sure I am mature enough to be a father.”  Not only is this being honest, but it also places responsibility for your feelings right where they belong – on you. 

#4 – Show Your Support

From the minute your partner tells you she is pregnant to her final decision about the pregnancy, show your support. This is one of the most important things you can do. Even if you are on opposite ends of the spectrum about how best to deal with the pregnancy, your chances of getting through it in a way that preserves your relationship are by showing your support. Let her know you care about her. During difficult times, Do not pressure your partner about the pregnancy or her choices. It is definitely not OK to “check out” on her, either. Explore your options together and find the help you need to sort through the situation. Giving her the support she needs – including exploring pregnancy options – can make your relationship stronger. 

#5 – Respect Her Decision

This is the hard part, guys. When exploring her pregnancy options, your partner could make a decision that makes you unhappy. The best thing you can do in this situation is to respect her decision. We know this is a difficult ask. Men who need extra support at this time can reach out to Care Net for help. We offer a caring environment for discussing your feelings, including support groups where you can share your thoughts with other men. 

pregnancy, early pregnancy, how do i know if i'm pregnant

How Do I Know If I’m Pregnant

10 early signs of pregnancy

Long before you get a positive pregnancy test, your body issues some early signs to share the news. While the only way to know for sure is with a pregnancy test or an ultrasound, there are some symptoms most women experience during the earliest days of their pregnancies. Some of these early pregnancy indicators can mimic premenstrual syndrome (PMS), which means some women think they are gearing up for their next period and they ignore them. 

If you notice any of these signs or symptoms, it is not necessarily a cause for alarm. You may want to follow up with your primary care physician or visit the nearest Care Net location for free pregnancy testing

  1. Cramping and spotting
    This is a common early hint your body sends about pregnancy. It usually occurs between 10 and 14 days after you become pregnant. You may notice some light spotting and cramping, as part of the implantation process. This means one of your eggs was fertilized by sperm and has now embedded itself into your uterus, where it will continue to grow into a fetus. So, how do you know if it is implantation spotting or a light period? The color of the bleeding is your first clue. It tends to be pink, red, or brown and can last less than three days. Some women describe the pain of implantation bleeding as mild while others say it causes severe pain. Every woman is different. 
  2. Missing a period
    Many women suspect pregnancy after the first missed period, especially if they recently engaged in sexual activity with their partner. You miss your period during pregnancy because your body begins producing the human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) hormone. Its sole purpose is to maintain the pregnancy by signaling to your ovaries they no longer need to release mature eggs for fertilization. Some home pregnancy tests can detect hCG levels as soon as eight days after you miss your period. They are not always reliable, so you may want to take more than one or visit your local pregnancy care center for follow-up and confirmation. A free limited pregnancy ultrasound can help confirm or refute pregnancy. 
  3. Rising body temperatures
    Basal body temperature is an excellent way to monitor your fertility cycle. Some women choose to use it for natural family planning purposes to help pinpoint when they ovulate to either get pregnant or help avoid pregnancy. Once you become pregnant, your basal body temperature rises and stays elevated. This is because your body is producing more progesterone to support the pregnancy. 
  4. Feeling sleepy
    Fatigue during early pregnancy is common for most women. When progesterone levels rise, it can make you feel more fatigued. The same properties of progesterone that help it to loosen your joints and ligaments in preparation for pregnancy and birth can cause feelings of sleepiness. 
  5. Increasing heart rate
    Your body goes through many changes during pregnancy to help support the growing fetus. One of those changes involves your heart rate. Starting between eight and 10 weeks, your heart begins pumping faster and harder to promote increased blood flow to your uterus. Arrhythmias and heart palpitations are common during pregnancy due to the boost in your blood flow. 
  6. Urinating frequently
    A heart that beats faster and harder is not the only side effect of increased blood flow during pregnancy. All that extra blood circulation makes your kidneys work harder to process the extra fluid. The result? You will need to pee more often. Some women also find they are unable to hold their urine. When they feel the need to go, they must find a toilet quickly. If you find yourself urinating more frequently without any extra intake of fluids to account for it, you may be pregnant. 
  7. Bloating and constipation
    Some women experience bloating and constipation during PMS, which is why this warning sign often is ignored. This duo of symptoms signals a change in your digestive system, which slows down during pregnancy due to the shift in hormones to support the growing fetus. 
  8. Rising blood pressure
    For most women, their blood pressure drops during the early stages of pregnancy. This is caused by progesterone, which promotes more blood flow and a faster heart rate. Because your blood vessels are so dilated, some women experience dizziness, especially when they first stand up. If your blood pressure is lower than normal and you find yourself experiencing dizziness, you could be pregnant. 
  9. Smelling senses increase
    If you find yourself turned off by the smell of something you used to love, it can be your body’s way of signaling pregnancy. These smell sensitivities can happen with foods or with anything odorous in your environment. Flowers, perfumes, and even household cleaning products can trigger pregnant women. 
  10. Feeling nauseous
    This is one of the earliest symptoms most women associate with pregnancy. You may just feel nauseated, or you might also throw up. Medical professionals are not entirely certain why this happens, but believe fluctuating hormones play a role. Dubbed “morning sickness,” it usually occurs first thing in the morning and subsides as the day goes on. Some women, unfortunately, are nauseous throughout the day with their pregnancies. Feelings of nausea usually begin between the fourth and sixth weeks of pregnancy. 
early pregnancy signs, pregnancy exhaustion

What to do if you suspect you are pregnant

If you suspect you are pregnant but are not sure, making an appointment with a pregnancy care center can help. Care Net offers free pregnancy testing and free limited pregnancy ultrasounds. The first step in our process is to have you take a pregnancy test. If it is positive, then we follow that up with an ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy. Sometimes pregnancy tests are not accurate, and an ultrasound is the best way to confirm a positive test. Contact us to schedule your initial consultation the minute you suspect you are pregnant. We care about you and are here to help! 

abortion grief, abortion regret, abortion support

Seeking help for grief after abortion

Choosing to have an abortion is never an easy decision. Some women opt for an abortion because they are dealing with an unplanned pregnancy and feel it is the best option. How you decide to handle your pregnancy is deeply personal. Ideally, it is best to get the support you need from the moment you find out you are pregnant. Pregnancy care centers like Care Net can help you explore your options, including abortion, adoption, and parenthood.  Whatever decision you make, having ongoing support can help you deal with any feelings you may have before, during, or after. 

Abortion is an option that approximately 18 percent of pregnant women choose each year in the United States. Sometimes women experience extreme grief after an abortion. Even when they know what to expect and choose this pregnancy option, it can be difficult to unpack their emotions afterward. Grief is not always immediate, either. Sometimes it takes years for a woman to recognize the emotional trauma having an abortion can cause. 

How to recognize the signs of after-abortion grief

Pregnancy loss – whether planned or unplanned – causes an interruption in your hormonal cycle. Most women are familiar with the kind of mood disturbances that can occur when their hormones fluctuate, especially when it involves estrogen. Pregnancy hormones can decline quickly after an abortion, hurling you into an emotional freefall. It can take anywhere between 16 days and 2 months for hCG levels (the pregnancy hormone) to decline. 

So, what does all this mean? Well, it means it is somewhat normal to be moody after an abortion until your hormone levels return to normal. Any feelings of relief you experience immediately after your choice can quickly be replaced by discouraging ones or self-doubt. Some of the negative feelings you might experience after an abortion include:

  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Guilt
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Remorse or regret
  • Shame

Women who choose abortions also may have relationship issues moving forward and feel isolated or lonely. Again, while these feelings are common and even normal, it does not mean you have to suffer through them alone. 

abortion grief, abortion support

When to seek help for your after-abortion grief

There is never a wrong time to seek help and support after an abortion. Even if you think you are handling it well, you may be surprised to learn that some of your underlying feelings of anxiety and stress are caused by the major life decision you just made. Talking with others who understand how you feel can be a tremendous source of relief. 

While it is normal to feel remorse and grief after having an abortion, it does not mean all feelings after an abortion should be ignored. If you find yourself unable to cope with the loss or experiencing thoughts of suicide, you must seek help immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a valuable resource. A national network of crisis centers, the lifeline provides 24/7 free and confidential support for people who are in distress. You can receive information about local care and suicide prevention resources. If you are experiencing suicidal feelings after an abortion, please do not wait. Call the lifeline toll-free at 800-273-8255. 

What to expect from after-abortion care programs

Sometimes talking with others who know what you are going through can help with any feelings of anxiety or other distress you are having after an abortion. After-abortion care programs provide the support needed and can help you connect with other women who get it because they have been through it themselves. 

Support groups are just one resource you can expect from a quality after-abortion care program. Our caring staff at Care Net also have access to trauma resources to help with your emotional and physical reactions to pregnancy termination that require more assistance than a support group offers. We pride ourselves on offering a confidential, non-judgmental environment where you can feel safe talking with someone one-on-one about your after-abortion feelings. We can help you find a trauma resource that addresses your individual needs, providing the help you need to work through your feelings. 

Seeking help before you make a decision

Seeking help before you decide what to do about your pregnancy can ensure you make the right choice. Sometimes women choose abortion because they do not realize there are alternatives. Care Net Pregnancy Care Centers provide information about all your pregnancy options

Our team of advocates and licensed medical professionals make sure you have access to medically sound and accurate resources that include abortion, adoption, and parenting. All care you receive – including pregnancy testing and limited ultrasounds – is free and confidential. 

You do not have to go through this alone. Contact us today to schedule your free appointment to discuss your pregnancy options. We have four convenient locations in Albuquerque, Los Lunas, Moriarty, and Rio Rancho. 

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.

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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.