Finding out you’re pregnant when you’re a teenager can be very daunting, in particular if the pregnancy wasn’t planned. But don’t worry – if you decide to continue with the pregnancy, there is a wide range of services to support you during the pregnancy and following the birth of your baby.
As well as your GP, if you’re still at school your public health nurse (school nurse) will be able to provide advice and help. Your school office will be able to give you their contact details and tell you when they’re next in school.
You can also find information for teenage mums here:
What benefits am I entitled to?
According to a study by the charity Barnardo’s, many young parents don’t realise which benefits they’re entitled to, so often don’t claim as much as they could. Here’s an overview of the help that’s out there:
Healthy Start vouchers and food banks
The Healthy Start scheme offers free vouchers which you can swap for milk, fruit, vegetables and vitamins. The vouchers are for people under 18 who are pregnant, or with children under four years old. Find out more from the Healthy Start website. Your public health nurse (health visitor) may also be able to refer you to a local food bank where you can get food, toiletries and nappies for your baby. Find your nearest food bank here.
Finding somewhere to live can be a real challenge, not to mention affording to live there. Your local council housing department will be able to advice you about housing and housing projects in your area.
Shelter is a national homeless and housing charity who will give you advice. Their helpline (0808 800 4444) is open from 8am until 8pm Monday-Friday, and from 8am until 5pm at weekends.
Get Connected is an another organisation which offers confidential help for young people, and can help you with housing advice. Their freephone helpline (0808 808 4994) is open between 1pm and 11pm.
Whether you’re working or not, if you’re on a low income, you might be able to claim Child Tax Credits which help with the costs of bringing up a child. The amount you could receive depends on your personal circumstances, including how many children you have and whether or not they have any disabilities.
If you’re working and on a low income, you may also be able to claim Working Tax Credit, a benefit that includes a childcare element to help with the costs of registered or approved childcare. Single parents must work at least 16 hours to qualify.
Find out more about tax credits.
Single parents, who are responsible for a child under five and are not in work, or working less than 16 hours a week, may be entitled to Income Support.
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a tax-free benefit for disabled children and adults to help with extra costs they may have because they’re disabled.
You could get a one-off payment of £500 to help towards the costs of having a child. This is known as a Sure Start Maternity Grant, and must be claimed within three months after the baby is born. Usually, to qualify for a Sure Start Maternity Grant, there must be no other children in your family and you must already be receiving certain benefits such as income support or universal credit. Find out more here.
Other useful contact details for advice on benefits:
- The Citizens Advice Bureau
- Child Benefits Enquiry Line: 0845 302 1444
- National Debt Line: 0800 808 400
Sure Start Children’s Centres
Sure Start Children’s Centres aim to give every child the best possible start in life, and to help and support families. Many Children’s Centres offer specific support groups and programmes for young parents, and a dedicated young parent’s family outreach worker who can offer more targeted help.
You can access the services provided by your local Children’s Centre if you have a child under the age of five. Individual Children’s Centres offer different services, so it’s worth finding out where your nearest centre is so that you can contact them to find out which ones are right for you.
If you feel worried about going to a Children’s Centre for the first time, give them a call because they may be able to arrange for a family outreach worker to come and visit you at home beforehand so that there’ll be a familiar face when you go there.
Sources of emotional support
You may feel like you are alone, but there are many organisations out there offering support to young parents. Here are some of the best:
- Little Lullaby – an online support network for young parents to chat, and share advice and stories.
- Straight Talking – the national teenage pregnancy charity. Straight Talking employs teen parents who go into schools to talk to young people about what it really means to be a parent. They also run young parents groups, where you’d be able to meet others in the same situation as you.
- Onespace – a website for single parents offering advice and local support. Make friends with other single parents and find local services and events.
- Netmums – online space where parents can support each other. There’s also an app called Chat Netmums, which offers you information on things like sleep, feeding and making friends.
- Bliss – a website for parents of babies born prematurely or who are poorly. You’ll find information about caring for your baby in hospital and when you come home.
- Home-Start – a leading family support charity. They offer support with maternal mental health, domestic abuse, and parenting among other things
If you need to talk to someone about pregnancy, contraception and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), these links will help you to find free sexual health drop in clinics in your area:
Domestic abuse affects one in four women and one in six men during their lifetime. Although domestic abuse accounts for 16% of all violent crime, it remains the violent crime least likely to be reported to the police.
Domestic abuse can include physical, emotional and sexual abuse in relationships between couples and between family members. Anyone can be a victim or an abuser.
Please don’t wait for an emergency situation to get help. If domestic abuse is happening to you, it’s important to tell someone. Remember you’re not alone. Have the confidence in yourself to ask for help, not just for you but for your children too. Find help here:
Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust runs a confidential secure text messaging service for parents of children aged 0-19 years called Chat Health. The service operates Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm, excluding bank holidays. All texts will be responded to by a public health nurse (health visitor/school nurse) within 24 hours. Outside of the service working hours, you’ll receive a message back to inform you that your text will be responded to once the line reopens.
Should you require urgent health advice in the meantime, please contact your GP, visit an NHS walk-in centre or call NHS 111. For emergencies, dial 999 or visit A&E.
Leicester City: text 07520 615381
Leicestershire & Rutland: text 07520 615382