How To Teach About Pregnancy

  • Nearly half of all pregnancies in the US are unintended, a number the CDC hope to decrease by 10% by 2020.[1] Teaching about pregnancy is one part of the strategy to reduce this number. Though such teaching is thought of as occurring primarily in the school setting, much education happens in medical clinics as well.

    Teaching about pregnancy should cover three broad areas, regardless of age or setting:

    1. Human reproduction
    2. Pregnancy options including adoption and abortion.
    3. Contraceptive methods including abstinence.

    The National Sexuality Education Standards further refine these broad objectives[2]:

    Middle School

    • Define sexual intercourse and its relationship to human reproduction.
    • Define sexual abstinence as it relates to pregnancy prevention.
    • Explain the effectiveness rates of various contraceptive methods for pregnancy prevention.
    • Describe the signs and symptoms of pregnancy.
    • Identify prenatal practices that contribute to a healthy pregnancy.
    • Identify medically-accurate resources about pregnancy prevention, reproductive health care, and pregnancy-related information and support including pregnancy options, safe surrender policies and prenatal care.

    High School

    • Compare and contrast the advantages and disadvantages of contraceptive methods for pregnancy prevention.
    • Identify laws related to reproductive and sexual health care services (i.e., contraception, pregnancy options, safe surrender policies, prenatal care).
    • Describe the signs of pregnancy.
    • Describe prenatal practices that contribute to or threaten a healthy pregnancy.
    • Compare and contrast the laws relating to pregnancy, adoption, abortion and parenting.
    • Analyze internal and external influences on decisions about pregnancy options and parenting.
    • Access medically-accurate information about contraceptive methods, pregnancy options and prenatal services.
    • Assess the skills and resources needed to become a parent.

    If working with adults, do not assume they already have all of this information. Morgan Nuzzo, prenatal nurse and doula, recommends continually asking people if they have questions or concerns. She also cautions that patience is necessary, “Sometimes the best thing you can do is not say anything” while the person works through their thought. She highlights three key practices that have been invaluable to her patients.

    • Know your state’s laws related to reproductive and sexual healthcare services. Are there waiting periods, do minors need consent, etc.
    • Honor the autonomy of the pregnant person. “Women know almost immediately what they want to do with their pregnancies,” she says so honor that decision and provide information and resources related to that decision.
    • Discuss birth control options after pregnancy. Many women mention abstinence as their preferred method going forward. This can be difficult, however, so finding a method that will allow the individual to enjoy sex and not worry about a second pregnancy is vital.

    Resources to Share
    Backline Talkline
    National Abortion Federation Find a Provider or 1-877-257-0012
    Planned Parenthood Find a Clinic or 1-800-230-PLAN
    Faith Aloud

    Thank you to Morgan Nuzzo, RN, BS(N) for her input for this article.

    [1] Guttmacher Institute. (2013). Fact sheet: Unintended pregnancy in the United States. http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/FB-Unintended-Pregnancy-US.html

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