Pregnancy brings with it lots of new things for all expectant parents. If you're under 18, there are probably quite a few more questions. There are, of course, also some aspects of pregnancy specific to you that should considered. There are several counseling centres you can turn to for help with your decisions and planning.

The first thing to do if you think you are pregnant is take a pregnancy test. You can get one without a prescription at a pharmacy or drugstore. You can use most of these tests as soon as you miss your period. Some even work a few days before the day your period is supposed to start. A positive test result means you're pregnant. To ensure that you are well looked after from the start of your pregnancy, it is important that you see a gynaecologist as soon as possible.

When you first find out that you are pregnant, you may be very surprised and not know what to do. It helps you to talk about it with people you trust. This could be your parents, your partner or a friend. You can also contact a pregnancy counselling centre free of charge. The staff there are well acquainted with the many questions that affect young pregnant people in particular and can tell you where you can get important information and help. You can also talk to them about your fears and concerns. You don't have to worry about anyone else finding out. The discussions are confidential. You don't even have to give your name or contact information if you don’t want to. That means you can remain anonymous.

You have the right, like every pregnant person in Germany, to free check-ups with a gynaecologist or a midwife to ensure that you and your baby are in good health during your pregnancy They can answer all your questions about pregnancy, your body and the baby, and will be there for you after delivery too. A midwife will also look after you with particular care in the weeks after the birth, i.e. in the time also known as the postpartum period. It is best to discuss with your doctor whether your parents or guardians should be informed. Even if you are under 18 and pregnant, doctors are bound by professional confidentiality. That means they can't just pass on what you tell them.

If you did not wish to become pregnant, you are free to decide whether you want to have the baby or not. No one can force you to continue with a pregnancy or to abort, no matter how old you are. Early on in the pregnancy, you should think about becoming a parent and discuss this possibility with people you trust. Because there are fixed legal rules regulating abortion. It is usually only allowed if you are less than 12 weeks pregnant. This is counted from the day of fertilisation. It is also a prerequisite that you go to pregnancy conflict counselling and get a counselling certificate there. Here you can also discuss how your pregnancy came about and what exceptions there might be for abortion if you are more than 12 weeks pregnant. It is also good to talk with people you trust.

If you are under 18 years old when the baby is born, the Youth Welfare Office (Jugendamt) will appoint a guardian for the baby. This is required by law. This person has partial custody and can assist you, for example, with applying for child benefits (Kindergeld). Guardians can be your parents or your child's father if he is of age. However, it could also be another adult if that is better for you and your child. Specialists at the Youth Welfare Office can explain to you exactly how custody works and what duties and rights you have. As a rule, you also have partial custody, known as ‘personal custody’ in Germany, from the beginning. This means, among other things, that you will care for and raise the baby, and that you can decide where and with whom the baby lives. Once you turn 18, you can take over full custody.

If you don't want to live with your parents or with the father of your baby, there are other options. For example, young mothers can move into a mother-child facility with their child. There you will live in a shared flat or in your own flat. This is sometimes possible for couples or fathers. You'll get tips there on how to feed your baby well or how to get them to sleep, among other things. The baby can also be looked after there if you want to go back to school. If you are at least 16 years old and your parents consent, you can move into your own flat. You can apply for a housing benefit to help. You also have the possibility to apply for Unemployment Benefit II (Arbeitslosengeld II) for your living expenses. Your parents' income is not counted towards this. Think carefully about what you really need and which options are best for you in the long run.

Even if you are pregnant, you have the right and obligation to go to school. It is best to talk to a teacher you trust about how you can attend classes during pregnancy and later with a child. After giving birth, there are several childcare options. It's best to think ahead about how you want your child to be cared for when you go back to school. As for every pregnant person, the legal rights to maternity leave periods (Mutterschutzfrist) also applies to you as a student. If you feel fit enough, you may go to school and take tests and exams during this time. You can also take a leave of absence from school for a maximum of one year.

You are not required to report your pregnancy to your training school. Only then can your supervisor provide the legal health protections to which you are entitled as a pregnant person. Also, you can discuss your maternity leave period and how long before your due date you want to work. It is also possible to continue your training part-time or to apply for an extension of your training period. You can find more detailed information on the Federal Centre for Health Education website:

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