sexual abuse pregnancy

Sexually Abused and Pregnant? We Can Help.

Sexual abuse victims who become pregnant have some tough choices ahead of them. For some women, the thought of giving birth after being raped causes further emotional trauma. Others may struggle with personal convictions about life that convince them they should carry the pregnancy to term. Whether they then choose to parent or place their baby for adoption after birth also is part of the decision-making process.

No matter which scenario applies to your personal situation, Care Net Pregnancy Centers of Albuquerque is here to help. Our team does more than guide sexual abuse victims through the process of handling a pregnancy. They also can test for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexually transmitted infections (STI) to ensure the baby and mother are healthy. Care Net connects pregnant abuse victims with the resources they need to recover emotionally and physically.

How many women are sexually abused?

Sexual abuse and violence affect one out of every six American women in their lifetime. Pregnancy resulting from sexual abuse happens in 6 percent of rapes of women of reproductive age (12 to 45). Women can be sexually abused by a stranger or someone who is known to them. In some cases, they are raped or sexually coerced by an intimate partner.

Rape-related pregnancy is similar across racial and ethnic groups, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Choices for sexual abuse victims who become pregnant

Sometimes sexual assault victims who become pregnant from the abuse feel victimized twice. These feelings are normal and never should be ignored or minimized by healthcare professionals or others providing care to the victim. Care Net Pregnancy Centers of Albuquerque is a no-judgment zone. Our primary concern is your health and safety. Whether you choose abortion, adoption, or parenting, our caring staff is here to help you through every step of the process. We also connect you with the resources you need to help you heal from sexual abuse trauma. If you choose abortion or adoption, we have support services in place to help you through the normal feelings and struggles you may have afterward. Whatever you choose, we are here for you.

Sometimes sexual abuse victims who become pregnant are forced by their abusers to have an abortion to hide the abuse. Victims who have been forced to terminate their pregnancies can suffer long-term emotional and physical trauma. Our team can connect victims in this situation with the resources they need to heal emotionally and physically from sexual abuse and trauma.

Spotting the warning signs of sexual abuse

Many sexual abuse victims suffer in silence because the people around them have no idea they are victims of something so horrific. There are behavioral, emotional, and physical signs of sexual abuse. Learning to spot them can mean the difference between a victim getting the help they need and continued suffering.

Some of the most common warning signs include:

  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Emotional outbursts.
  • Extreme objection to odors, sounds, or specific people and situations.
  • Fear of being alone.
  • Inability to establish healthy boundaries.
  • Memory loss.
  • Restlessness or sleeplessness.

If you suspect someone is the victim of sexual abuse, reach out to the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline toll-free at 800-656-4673. The trained staff members can connect you with services in your area that can investigate and provide support to the victim of sexual abuse if it is confirmed.

How sexual abuse sabotages a healthy pregnancy

Beyond a woman becoming pregnant because of sexual abuse or other sexual violence, being sexually abused also can affect future pregnancies. Women who later choose to become pregnant with their partners can suffer the unwanted emotional side effects of their earlier trauma. All victims have triggers that can remind them of the crime to which they were subjected. For sexual abuse sufferers, one of those triggers can be their bodies. While they chose to become pregnant and are happy about their decision, that does not mean their pregnancy won’t generate unwanted feelings.

Pregnancy and childbirth can generate unwanted feelings during:

  • Routine prenatal care and exams.
  • Invasive delivery interventions.
  • Power struggles between the patient and her doctor.

Any of these scenarios can trigger a fight, flight, or freeze response in a pregnant woman who previously suffered from sexual abuse. Pregnancy – even one that is planned and perceived as a joyous occasion – can trigger higher levels of anxiety and fear in sexual abuse survivors.

Turn to Care Net for help

Victims of sexual abuse can seek help at any of our locations directly, no questions asked. We protect your confidentiality and will connect you with the resources you need to heal from the trauma. If you are pregnant, we can ensure you have the guidance needed to make the best decision about your pregnancy. Contact us at any time to learn more.

warning signs trafficking

How to Spot the Signs Human Trafficking

Human trafficking in New Mexico is a growing concern. The state is part of a known route that includes Denver, Albuquerque, Salt Lake City, and Compton. In its most recent Federal Human Trafficking Report, the Human Trafficking Institute ranked New Mexico 23rd in the nation for active human trafficking cases with eight cases and two prosecutions. One of the reasons prosecutions are not higher in these types of cases is because victims who are fortunate enough to escape their captors are too terrified to testify against them. Human traffickers and their victims can hide in plain sight. New Mexicans can help fight against human trafficking in their state by knowing how to spot the warning signs and which agencies to involve if they suspect trafficking.

What is human trafficking?

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, human trafficking involves using physical force, fraud, or other forms of coercion to get free labor from victims or make them engage in commercial sex acts. Traffickers are manipulators. They might make false promises – such as helping undocumented immigrants become citizens – or use physical force and intimidation to get their victims to do what they want. No community is immune from this horrendous crime. Victims can be any age, gender, nationality, or race. Fear of law enforcement and language barriers can keep some human trafficking victims from seeking help on their own.

Recognizing the key indicators of human trafficking is the first step in identifying victims and removing them from a dangerous situation. All the following warning signs may be present, or only a few. If you suspect human trafficking, never approach the potential victim or their captor. Doing so can put the victim in further jeopardy. Information on how to report suspected human trafficking is included later in this blog. Here are some of the warning signs you should look for to help combat trafficking in your community.

Warning signs of human trafficking

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security provides several warning signs to help spot human trafficking.

  • Appearing malnourished. Withholding adequate food and water is one of the methods traffickers use to maintain control of their victims. Not only does it make them physically weak and less likely to try to escape, but it also makes them more beholden to their captors since they determine how much – or how little – nourishment they receive.  
  • Avoiding eye contact, social interaction, and authority figures. These three things may not always signal someone is a victim of trafficking, but they can be strong indicators in those who fall into this category. Victims often are forced to isolate themselves and limit interactions with others for fear someone may catch on to what is happening to them.
  • Showing signs of physical abuse. Bruises, broken bones, and other visible injuries can be signs that someone is being forced into a situation. Physical threats and intimidation are common tactics used by traffickers to keep their victims from seeking help.
  • Lacking official identification documents. While this also can be a sign that someone is an undocumented immigrant, the inability to produce a driver’s license or other form of identification can be a red flag that the person is a trafficking victim. Traffickers try to keep their victims from getting access to any personal identification to keep them trapped in their situation.
  • Using scripted responses during social interactions. Traffickers hide their victims in plain sight. They might force them to work in their public-facing businesses as a form of free labor. To pull this off, they must find ways to strongarm them into not saying the wrong thing when interacting with customers. If you patronize a business and have an interaction with an employee that feels a bit too scripted, it might be a sign of trouble.
warning signs trafficking
Signs of human trafficking can be subtle and easy to miss.

Who is most vulnerable to trafficking?

Human traffickers target certain populations because they are easier to control. Data collected by the Polaris Project indicates people of color and those in the LGBTQ+ community are more likely to be trafficked than any other demographic. The group attributes the increased risk to the general trauma, historic oppression, and other societal factors and inequities that these two groups experience. Traffickers are highly skilled at recognizing and exploiting weaknesses in their victims.

Sex traffickers are experts at grooming their victims. They work hard to gain their trust and then create a dependent relationship. They convince their victims that selling sexual services is normal and even necessary. Some victims may even believe they have made the choice to participate in sexual exploitation of their own free will.

How to report suspected trafficking

Never directly approach a suspect victim of human trafficking about their situation. Doing so can further jeopardize their safety. Their abusers often are nearby and may later punish them for your attempts to help.

The U.S. Department of State recommends alerting the nearest law enforcement agency if you become aware of a situation that feels off. Calling 911 is the quickest way to get connected with the appropriate department. You also can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free at 888-373-7888. This national tip hotline operates 24/7 and offers multilingual operators to callers.

Care Net Pregnancy Center of Albuquerque is a safe space for victims of human trafficking. If you need immediate assistance, stop by any of our locations and ask to speak to one of our caring staff members. No one needs to know the real reason for your visit. As providers of free pregnancy testing, free STD/STI testing, and free limited pregnancy ultrasounds, we see people for many reasons. We can help connect you with the resources needed to free you from your current situation and to ensure those responsible face consequences for their actions.

low-cost free prenatal care

How to Find Low-Cost or Free Prenatal Care

Finding low-cost or free prenatal care is a priority for women who choose to become parents. It can be a deciding factor in the choice a woman makes about how to handle her pregnancy. Sometimes pregnancy happens when you least expect it. Missing out on the ability to obtain reasonable healthcare and wellness checks throughout their pregnancy can have devastating results. A lack of prenatal care in the U.S. continues to impact how healthcare is delivered to women, including pregnant women. Gaining access to prenatal care and affordability of prenatal care are two aspects most pregnant women say need improvement in the U.S. If the only thing influencing whether a woman continues with her pregnancy is accessibility and cost, Care Net Pregnancy Centers of Albuquerque can help.

How prenatal care works

Most women do not need their first prenatal checkup until 10 to 12 weeks into their pregnancy. This first appointment follows a pregnancy confirmation visit between 5 and 8 weeks when most women first realize they may be pregnant. Women can expect a comprehensive examination during the first prenatal care appointment. Most obstetricians conduct an exam, listen for a heartbeat, and order routine physical and prenatal labs.

Pregnant women can expect other prenatal visits on this recommended schedule:

  • Weeks 12-27 – one prenatal visit per month.
  • Weeks 28 to 36 – one prenatal visit every two weeks.
  • Weeks 26 to 4 – one prenatal visit every week.

Weekly prenatal checkups continue until labor begins. Women who are pregnant with twins or who have any complications may need more frequent visits.

Risk factors that influence the frequency of prenatal care

Recommended prenatal care is not set in stone. Some risk factors can increase the number of times a pregnant woman must be seen. Additional fetal monitoring may be part of the process under certain conditions. Here are a few of the times when pregnant women may need more frequent prenatal care.

  • Age. Women older than 35 have an increased chance of having a baby with a birth defect. There also is a higher risk of complications during delivery.
  • Multiples. Women who are pregnant with twins have a higher risk of complications and must be observed carefully by medical providers throughout their pregnancies and deliveries.  
  • Pre-existing health conditions. Women with a history of diabetes or high blood pressure are among those at higher risk during pregnancy. Close monitoring of these and other pre-existing health conditions can ensure the health of the mother and the baby.
  • Pregnancy-induced complications. Some risk factors only happen after a woman becomes pregnant. They include gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and preeclampsia. Women who develop any complications require additional monitoring.
  • Preterm labor. Pregnant women showing signs of going into early labor must be monitored more closely during pregnancy, which can mean more frequent visits and additional testing.
Ultrasounds may be part of a pregnant woman’s prenatal checkup.

How to find affordable or free prenatal care

Care Net Pregnancy Centers of Albuquerque offers free pregnancy testing and free limited pregnancy ultrasounds to pregnant women. Confirming a pregnancy is the first step in the decision-making process. Women who decide to continue with their pregnancies have two options: adoption or parenting. Choosing to work with an adoption agency means an expectant mother receives prenatal care and any other medical attention needed throughout her pregnancy and delivery. Ensuring a healthy baby for adoptive parents is a priority for most adoption agencies. While Care Net does not handle adoptions, our staff can make community referrals for programs that can assist if a woman chooses to go this route.

Women who want to become parents but need help finding low-cost or free prenatal care have options as well. Among their choices:

  • Medicaid. Most (but not all) states provide low- or no-cost medical coverage through their Medicaid insurance programs for pregnant women. Eligibility factors can include household size, income, and residency. New Mexico is one of the states that provides comprehensive medical coverage to pregnant women. Our team at Care Net can help connect pregnant women with their local assistance office to get started with this process.
  • Affordable Care Act. Pregnant women who do not qualify for Medicaid because of income levels or other criteria that makes them ineligible can shop for insurance plans on the New Mexico state-run exchange. Women at certain income thresholds qualify for government subsidies that can significantly reduce the cost of healthcare through the exchange.
  • Prenatal care clinics. New Mexico offers several free prenatal care clinics for women who are uninsured or underinsured. They charge based on income levels and need. Care Net can help connect pregnant women with these resources.

Care Net for affordable pregnancy care

The caring staff at Care Net Pregnancy Centers of Albuquerque wants to support women in their pregnancy decisions. Helping pregnant women gain access to low-cost or free prenatal care is part of the services we provide. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation with our knowledgeable staff.

date rape

Date Rape Facts You Need to Know

Date rape affects 35 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 24 in the U.S., according to data from the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN). Being forced to have sexual relations – even by someone you know – is never OK. Even when out on a date, you are not obligated to have intercourse, oral sex, or any other sexual contact with another person. Yet at least one-third of all female rape victims say they know their attacker. They may be casual dates, friends, or even boyfriends. Regardless of how you know them, it does not give them the right to force themselves on you sexually.

What is date rape?

Date rape is a form of sexual assault. It is the common name for describing what happens when you are forced into a sex act with someone you know. Rape is not a legally recognized term. If someone is arrested for date rape, they can be charged with anything from first-degree sexual assault to deviant sexual intercourse. It is possible for someone to face more than one criminal charge for committing date rape.

The reason date rape differs from other kinds of sexual assault is the victim always knows their attacker. Whether it is a classmate, a coworker, or your neighbor, if the person is known to you, the term date rape applies. Sometimes date rape is interchangeable with acquaintance rape. Regardless of which term you use, the meaning remains the same.

Date rape drugs and their role in sexual assault

Unfortunately, some women become victims of date rape because someone they know puts drugs in their food or drink that cause them to pass out or become non-responsive. It can be easy for your date to slip drugs into your drink when you are not looking that later make you confused or unable to fight back. Sometimes date rape drugs cause memory loss, so a woman may not even realize she was attacked or wonder if she consented to sex but does not remember doing so. This can make a woman hesitant to come forward to report the assault.

Some of the most common date rape drugs include:

  • Alcohol
  • Antidepressants
  • Gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid (GHB)
  • Ketamine
  • Rohypnol (sometimes called Roofies)
  • Sleeping pills
  • Tranquilizers
Never leave your drink unattended or accept drinks from strangers.

What can you do to protect yourself from date rape?

There are several things that women can do to protect against becoming a victim of acquaintance rape. One of the most important measures you can take is to check out anyone you plan to date. If they are a stranger, meet in a public place of your choosing and make sure a friend or family member knows the location. Do not agree to “alone time” with someone you have just met or barely know. Agree to meet dates at a location, rather than having them pick you up. That way, if things do not go well or your instincts are throwing up red flags, you easily can leave. Other things you can do include:

  • Never accept drinks from someone you do not know.
  • Never leave your drink unattended.
  • Install a personal safety app like Virtual Halo on your smartphone.
  • Trust your instincts and leave if something does not feel right.

What to do if you are a victim of date rape

If you know or suspect you are the victim of sexual assault by an acquaintance, the first thing you must do is call the police. Preserving any evidence of the crime is critical for prosecution. The police will take you to a hospital or other medical facility that can conduct a sexual assault forensic exam – sometimes called a rape kit – to collect any evidence from your body, clothes, and other personal belongings.

We understand that coming forward as a rape victim can be difficult. Women often are judged, and then victim-blaming happens. Sexual assault is a crime and should be treated as such. In addition to collecting evidence, medical professionals can examine you for injury and prescribe medications that can help prevent you from contracting certain sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexually transmitted illnesses (STIs) if the person who assaulted you did not use protection.

Hospitals and other medical examiners also can provide you with an emergency contraceptive designed to prevent pregnancy, called Plan B. Women who use it within 72 hours of being assaulted increase their chances of it working.

What happens if I become pregnant from date rape?

Sometimes women do not report when they are sexually assaulted, especially if their attacker is known to them. They may feel embarrassed or do not want to get the person in trouble. Another issue can be the woman does not realize she was raped because her attacker used a date rape drug. She may have memory loss or be confused about whether she consented.

Failing to report the date rape means the woman also probably did not seek medical treatment. This can have dire consequences if she later finds herself pregnant or infected with an STD or STI. Care Net Pregnancy Centers of Albuquerque offers free STD/STI testing. Women who suspect they have been raped and are worried about STDs and STIs can call to make an appointment or stop by any of our locations to get tested.

Women who suspect they may be pregnant can come in for free pregnancy testing and free limited pregnancy ultrasounds. If you are pregnant, our staff can walk you through your pregnancy options. We never judge, only help. Reach out to us today to get the help you need.

homeless and pregnant

Homeless and Pregnant? How to Get Help.

Finding out you are pregnant can be scary enough without the added complication of homelessness. Maybe you already were displaced when you became pregnant. Or maybe you were thrown out of your home once you revealed you were pregnant to family members or your landlord. Regardless of the reason, homelessness poses a health and safety risk for both the mother and her unborn child. Pregnant homeless women are more likely to face complications than their sheltered counterparts, according to a study published by Health Affairs. Among the most common health issues for homeless pregnant women were anemia, early labor, hemorrhaging, and hypertension.

Homeless women who are pregnant have options beyond homeless shelters, which also can pose certain risks to them and their babies. A pregnancy help center can offer alternatives.

Exploring your unplanned pregnancy options

Before you make any decisions about your pregnancy, it is a good idea to confirm you are pregnant and how far along you are in your pregnancy. Care Net Pregnancy Center offers free pregnancy testing and free limited pregnancy ultrasounds. Our results are quick and accurate, so pregnant women have the facts they need to move forward.

Homeless women who did not intend to become mothers have unplanned pregnancy options: abortion, adoption, and parenting. Whichever options you choose, Care Net Pregnancy Center is here to help you through it.

Abortion

It is never an easy decision to terminate a pregnancy. Women who wish to pursue this pregnancy option can find help and support at Care Net Pregnancy Center. From pre-abortion care to post-abortion trauma therapy, our team is here to help you through every step of the process. Our center does not perform or refer for abortions. Women who opt for abortion must find their own abortion provider.

Adoption

Adoption is a good alternative for women who are not yet ready to be parents, but who also cannot make the decision to have an abortion. There are four different types of adoption: open, semi-open, semi-closed, and closed. The one you choose depends on whether you wish to remain in contact with your child and their adoptive family. Care Net Pregnancy Center offers pre-adoption and post-adoption education services.

Parenting

Women who decide to raise their babies have all help and encouragement they need with free parenting education classes and support groups through Care Net Pregnancy Center. Our Earn While You Learn program provides resources like maternity and baby items and other necessities.

Find homeless shelters for pregnant women

Until you decide what you want to do about your pregnancy, you will need shelter. Even after you decide that you want to adopt or parent, accessing housing is a priority for your health and that of your baby. Pregnant women are considered a priority need for housing. Agencies will work diligently to find you a suitable shelter. National programs like the Homeless Prenatal Program can assist with finding women’s shelters designed to accommodate pregnant women. If you decide to work with an adoption agency, your liaison with the agency can assist in finding you a suitable shelter. Some adoption agencies have housing options for pregnant homeless women who are their clients to ensure their health and well-being until delivery.

If you were evicted from your home after revealing you were pregnant to your landlord, you may have legal recourse. The Federal Fair Housing Act makes it illegal for a landlord to evict you based solely on the fact you are pregnant. If you have been evicted for no other reason than pregnancy, you can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Financial help for pregnant homeless women

Medicaid offers certain benefits for homeless pregnant women. Several government organizations assist pregnant women, including those who are without adequate shelter. Here are some resources that can help:

  • Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program offers nutritional food and education. Some screening services also are provided for women during pregnancy and through six weeks after birth. Breastfeeding mothers qualify for assistance that can last from six months to a year after birth.
  • Pregnancy Medicaid is a state-administered program. The federal government established general guidelines for medical assistance, but each state determines specific requirements.
  • Section 8 Housing, also known as the Housing Choice Voucher Program, helps with rental expenses.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also provides several grant programs to assist the homeless, including pregnant women.

Secure housing for all pregnant women

Care Net Pregnancy Center is committed to helping all pregnant women find secure housing. Our community referrals program connects homeless pregnant women with resources designed to find the best housing solution. Walk into any of our clinic locations or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

one-night stand

The Dangers of One Night Stands

Casual sex. Those two words sound so harmless until you realize they are not. There is nothing casual about sex with a person you have just met. Whether you are out for a night on the town with friends or using a dating app to find potential partners, hooking up can have devastating consequences. When alcohol is involved with the decision, it increases the likelihood both parties will make poor choices, like engaging in unprotected sex. Bad decisions lead to serious outcomes, like contracting sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancy. Yet, nearly 60 percent of men and women in the U.S. admit to having a one night stand at least once in their lifetimes.

Before you make the decision to be intimate with someone you have just met or barely know, take a few moments to read up on the lifetime of consequences you may face from that one choice.

Why do people have one-night stands?

There are several reasons why you may feel compelled to have a one-night stand. Some people like the anonymity of it, feeling freer to engage in sexual acts with a stranger they likely will never see again. Others may have just left a long-term relationship and do not want to jump right back into anything serious, so casual hook-ups seem like a better alternative to them. Still, others may have done it before, enjoyed it, and sought out that same feeling again. Research shows 35 percent of women and 20 percent of men regret the decision to have a one-night stand, even if they do not suffer serious consequences from their actions.

One-night stands and STDs

One of the biggest risks of having a one-night stand is the increased risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). According to the STD Center, the risk of acquiring specific STDs from one instance of unprotected sex depends on the type of STD. Here is the breakdown:

TYPE OF STDVAGINAL SEXANAL SEX
HIV0.05-0.1%Receptive Sex: 1.4% Insertive sex: 0.06-0.16 %
Herpes0.3-0.7 percentNo exact data available
Gonorrhea20 percentReceptive Sex: 84% Insertive sex: 30-60%
Chlamydia4.5%32%
Syphilis51-64%30-60%
HPV4%Receptive Sex: 33.7-85.7% Insertive sex: 0.8-14.2%
Chart showing the risk for contracting an STD after a one-night stand.

Syphilis carries the highest risk for both vaginal and anal sex, with Gonorrhea the second most common type of STD contracted during one-night stands where safe sex practices were not used.  Even when partners use condoms, they can still spread certain sexually transmitted diseases like genital warts, herpes, and syphilis because those diseases are contracted through skin-to-skin contact.

If you had unprotected sex or have concerns about your health following a one-night stand, you can talk with one of our staff members. Care Net offers free STD/STI testing at select locations throughout Albuquerque.  Contact us to schedule an appointment at one of our four locations. When you receive free STD testing with us, you must make a follow-up appointment within 2 to 7 days to discuss your test results. If you test positive for any of the STDs/STIs we test for, our staff will refer you to the appropriate treatment center.

One-night stands and pregnancy

STDs and STIs are not the only unfortunate consequence of having casual sex. Unplanned pregnancies also can occur after hook-ups. Statistical evidence backs up the claim that women can be more reckless about their sexual choices when they are ovulating. Because women can feel more driven to have sex around the time they ovulate, it increases their chances of having an unintended pregnancy if they satisfy their hormonal urges with a casual hook-up that forgoes protection.

Becoming pregnant after a one-night stand can leave you with some difficult choices. If alcohol or drugs were part of the hook-up, your baby could be born with birth defects or other abnormalities. If your partner had an STD or an STI, that could pass to you and the baby. Certain STDs and STIs come with a higher risk for birth defects.

If you are concerned about the possibility of pregnancy after casual sex, Care Net can help. We offer free pregnancy testing. Appointments last between 30 and 60 minutes, and you know before you leave our offices if you might be pregnant. If your pregnancy test comes back positive, our staff will refer you for additional services.

Recovering from one-night stands

One poor choice does not have to define the rest of your life. Having a one-night stand does not mean you are a bad person. Care Net is a judgment-free zone. Our caring staff will never try to make you feel bad for your situation or any choices you make. Call any of our four locations or contact us online to schedule your confidential appointment today.

abusive relationship

How to Escape an Abusive Relationship

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

Abusive relationship signs

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

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

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

Abusive relationship cycle

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

The remaining three stages include:

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

Getting out of an abusive relationship

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

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

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

Comfort and guidance for abuse victims

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

free pregnancy test and ultrasound

Pregnant? What’s your next step?

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

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

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

What interferes with results?

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

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

How to be sure you’re pregnant

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

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

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

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

Free pregnancy ultrasound: what to expect

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

Limited pregnancy ultrasounds answer specific questions about the fetus:

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

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

Scheduling a free pregnancy ultrasound

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

morning sickness

How to Fix Morning Sickness

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

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

What causes morning sickness?

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

How long does morning sickness last?

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

Natural remedies for morning sickness

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

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

Help for pregnant women

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

first-time dads

What First-Time Dads Need to Know

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

Commit to hands-on daily care

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

Connect through touch

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

Talk to your little one

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

Make time for your partner

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

Know when to seek help

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

© All rights reserved.
Website Design by BK Design Solutions.

DISCLAIMER: THIS WEBSITE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL or LEGAL ADVICE
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.