Pregnancy & Reproduction

Reproduction is how bodies work together to make pregnancy happen. Humans have sex cells, called gametes, which drive reproduction. When a male gamete (sperm) and a female gamete (the egg) meet in the female reproductive system, the sperm can fertilize the egg.

This fertilized egg is called a zygote.

During a developing pregnancy, the zygote becomes an embryo, then a fetus, and eventually once born, a baby.

Most pregnancies result from unprotected (no birth control) vaginal sex, but can result from infertility treatments such as intrauterine insemination (IUI), when sperm is put into the vagina, uterus or fallopian tubes in a doctor’s office to produce a pregnancy, and in vitro fertilization (IVF), when highly trained medical professionals use sperm to fertilize an egg in a laboratory and then place the embryo into the uterus.

Pregnancy lasts for about 40 weeks, starting from the first day of the last menstrual period. The exact length of a pregnancy will be different for every person. Pregnancy is typically divided into 3 trimesters, with each trimester lasting about 3 months (12-13 weeks).

If you find out you’re pregnant, there are many factors to consider. People who are pregnant have three options: parenting, adoption, and abortion. Deciding what to do about a pregnancy is very personal, and everyone’s decision is different. One thing that is always true: the person who is pregnant knows what is best for them, and it is ultimately their decision.

It’s completely normal to have a lot of different feelings when thinking about the choices. Many people turn to others they trust for support and advice. This could be a partner, a trusted adult, a religious advisor, a counselor, or a health care provider.

If you’re not sure who to talk to, there are caring professionals at family planning clinics (like Title X health centers or Planned Parenthood) that can give you accurate, non-judgmental information about all of your options. Be careful when looking for reliable health centers. There are clinics that say they have pregnancy services, but they won’t talk honestly or accurately about all the options available to a pregnant person.

Option 1:  Parenting

Having a baby is a life-changing and lifelong commitment. It takes a lot of love, energy and patience, but it can be exciting and rewarding. When choosing to parent, every person’s situation is different. Some things that people think about when making that choice include: money, school, work, life goals, personal beliefs, and the wellbeing of their future child. It’s important to get support from people you trust to help you decide if parenting is right for you.

Learn more:
Considering Parenting

Option 2:  Adoption

The process of adoption is when you give birth and then choose for someone else to parent your child. It is a permanent, legal agreement to place your child in the care of another person or family. There are laws in every state to protect everyone involved and to guide the adoptive families, so it’s important to speak with a lawyer or adoption agency.

Learn more:
Considering Adoption

Option 3:  Abortion

If you’re thinking of having an abortion, you’re not alone. It is fairly common – about 25% of women in the U.S. will have an abortion by the time they’re 45 years old. People have abortions for many different reasons, and each person’s decision is unique and valid.

Every state has different laws on abortions, including if/when it’s legal to have an abortion and when parental consent is required for minors, so it’s important for you to know the laws in Rhode Island.

Learn more:
Considering Abortion

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