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Am I Pregnant?

Call our 24-hour helpline (312) 621-1100.

Maybe you've missed your period or you "feel pregnant". There are many signs of possible pregnancy - including nausea, feeling tired, tenderness of the breasts and frequent urination. However, not everyone experiences these symptoms when pregnant. Due to other health conditions (some serious), it is also possible to miss a period and have symptoms, but NOT be pregnant.

The first step in confirming whether or not you are pregnant is to take a pregnancy test. If the result is positive, an ultrasound exam should then be done to determine how far along you are in your pregnancy and to verify the viability of the pregnancy. Aid for Women offers free in-office pregnancy tests and ultrasound exams with immediate results. Whether you are pregnant or not, you will be provided with compassionate care and the help you need.

Call Aid for Women at (312) 621-1100 to schedule your appointment at one of our five locations. All services are provided free-of-charge.

You Have Options

Call our 24-hour helpline (312) 621-1100.

I'M PREGNANT. WHAT NOW?

Your mind is probably racing with questions, and you may be feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes it can be very difficult to talk to
your family, friends or partner. You may be concerned about your financial situation, lack of health insurance or how this pregnancy
will affect your life goals. It can be difficult to make decisions when you feel like your life is spinning out of control. Aid for Women is here to help.

It is your decision, so it is important to understand the changes happening within your body and to know all your pregnancy options
in order to make a fully informed decision. Our counselors and client advocates help you assess your situation, provide accurate information
and support you throughout your pregnancy decision.

You have three options — ParentingAbortion and Adoption.

Parenting

Call our 24-hour helpline (312) 621-1100.

 

The choice to parent is a challenging and rewarding decision. Many women would say that an unplanned pregnancy turned their world upside down, but their child turned it right side up. Parenting is a very courageous and loving choice.

You will not be alone in your decision to parent. Aid for Women can help answer questions like: How can I afford to have a baby right now? Where can I find information about insurance, hospitals, and doctors? How will I tell my family? Where will I live with my baby? How can I continue my education? How will a pregnancy affect my job? What resources are available if I choose to raise my child?

We also offer material assistance (maternity clothes, baby clothes, diapers, baby supplies, etc.) and support groups for expecting moms and new parents. Additionally, we have access to a large network of local resources - including referrals for healthcare, housing, food, clothing and employment.

If your current life circumstances are making a decision to parent difficult, let Aid for Women offer you our assistance and support. We will help you during your pregnancy and in planning a future for yourself and your child. We care about you and your baby and will help you find the courage and resources you need to parent your child.

Watch Janessa's Story  |  Abortion  |  Adoption

Abortion

Call our 24-hour helpline (312) 621-1100.

I'm considering abortion. What are my options? What can I expect?

It may seem like having an abortion is the easy solution to an unplanned pregnancy, and you can just move on. It's not that simple. Abortion is not a simple medical procedure without several possible risks and side effects. It can be a life-changing event with significant physical and emotional consequences. Many woman who have had past abortions continue to struggle with their abortion experience and wish they had been better informed about abortion procedures and the risks and side effects.

Aid for Women will provide you with accurate abortion information and answer your questions so that you can make a fully-informed decision.

Parenting  |  Adoption

Medical and Surgical Abortion Procedures

Call our 24-hour helpline (312) 621-1100.

The types of abortion procedures available to you are based on your stage of pregnancy. Therefore, it is important for you to find out how far along you are in your pregnancy by having an ultrasound exam. Aid for Women offers free on-site ultrasound exams at no charge. Call (312) 621-1100 to schedule your ultrasound exam.

Medical Abortion Options

EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION (Plan B One-Step® and Ella®)
What about emergency contraception?  Emergency contraception pills can be taken during the first few hours or days following unprotected intercourse or contraceptive failure. Since the effects can occur after conception, emergency contraception pills may cause medical abortions. Plan B One-Step and Ella are two commonly known emergency contraceptives. Plan B One-Step contains a large amount of levonorgestrel that is taken within 72 hours of intercourse. Ella contains ulipristal acetate, a drug in the same class as mifepristone, better known as the abortion pill or RU-486. Ella can be taken up to 5 days after intercourse. Depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle, both drugs may also work by delaying your normal ovulation process. Plan B One-Step and Ella Should not be taken if you think you are pregnant or used as a routine form of birth control.

ABORTION PILL (ru-486, Mifeprex®/Mifepristone)  |  Up to 9 weeks
How does the abortion pill work?  A physical exam is first given in order to determine eligibility for this type of medical abortion procedure. There are several pregnancy and medical conditions which do not allow the use of the abortion pill. During the first office visit, you are given mifepristone pills to take orally. Mifepristone blocks the effects of your natural  hormone progesterone and causes the uterine lining to break down. This stops the flow of nutrition and blood to the embryo and prevents the pregnancy from continuing. Two to three days later, you will be given a second drug, misoprostol, which will cause contractions that expel the embryo. This expulsion process may take a few hours or as long as a few days so it is recommended you stay home until the process has completed. A physical exam is given two weeks later to ensure the abortion was completed and to check for complications. Additional options are available for medical abortions — including methotrexate and misoprostol. Methotrexate is administered orally or by injection and is widely used as a chemotherapy drug to treat cancer.

The medical abortion procedure is unsuccessful approximately 5% to 10% of the time with the potential of requiring an additional surgical abortion procedure to complete the termination.

Surgical Abortion Procedures

SUCTION ASPIRTATION  |  Up to 13 weeks
How is suction aspiration abortion performed?  Your abortion provider will give you medication for pain and possibly sedation. You will lie on your back with your feet in stirrups and a speculum is inserted to open the vagina. A local anesthetic is administered to your cervix to numb it. Then a tenaculum (a surgical instrument with long handles and a clamp at the end) is used to hold the cervix in place. The cervix is then dilated with absorbent rods that vary in size. The rods may also be put in a few days prior to the procedure. When the cervix is wide enough, a cannula (a long plastic tube connected to a suction device) is inserted into the uterus to suction out the fetus and placenta. The procedure usually lasts 10-15 minutes, but recovery can require staying at the clinic for a few hours.

DILATION AND EVACUATION (D & E)  |  After 13 weeks
How is dilation and evacuation performed?  In most cases, 24 hours prior to the actual procedure, your abortion provider will insert laminaria or a synthetic dilator inside your cervix. When the procedure begins the next day, your abortion provider will use a tenaculum to keep the cervix and uterus in place. Additional laminaria or synthetic dilators will be inserted into your cervix to open it wide enough for the fetal remains to be removed. A shot may be given before the procedure begins to ensure fetal death has occurred. Then a cannula is inserted to remove tissue away from the lining. Then using a curette (a surgical instrument shaped like a spoon), the lining is scraped to remove any residuals. If needed, forceps may be used to remove larger parts. The last step is usually a final suctioning to make sure the contents are completely removed. The procedure normally takes 15-30 minutes. The fetal remains are usually counted and examined to ensure everything was removed and that the abortion was complete.

DILATION AND EVACUATION (D & E)  |  After 24 weeks
How is dilation and evacuation after 24 weeks performed?  The procedure typically takes 2-3 days and is associated with increased risk to the life and health of the mother. Because a live birth is possible, injections are given to cause fetal death. This is done in order to comply with the Partial Birth Abortion Act of 2003 which requires the fetus to be dead before complete removal from the mother’s body. The medications (digoxin and potassium chloride) are either injected into the umbilical cord, amniotic fluid, or directly into the fetus’ heart. Fetal parts are reassembled after removal from the uterus to make sure nothing is left behind to cause infection or bleeding. An alternate technique, called “Intact D & E” is also used. The goal is to remove the fetus in one piece, reducing the risk of leaving body parts behind or of causing damage to the woman’s body. This procedure requires the cervix to be opened wide enough to bring out the fetus head intact. However, it still may be necessary to crush the fetus’ skull for removal.

Questions? Aid for Women is here to help. Call our 24-hour helpline at (312) 621-1100.

Risks and Side Effects of Abortion  |  Parenting  |  Adoption

Risks and Side Effects of Abortion

Call our 24-hour helpline (312) 621-1100.

What are the physical risks and side effects related to MEDICAL ABORTIONS?

Immediate and long-term physical risks and side effects of medical abortions may include: cramping, headaches, nausea, fatigue, fever and chills, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, infection, heavy bleeding, trauma from seeing embryonic parts expelled and possible birth defects if pregnancy is not successfully terminated. All methods of medical abortion have an associated failure rate, and surgical abortion may be required to complete the abortion. Reasons for surgical intervention include prolonged or excessive bleeding, incomplete abortion (remnants of fetal tissue in the uterus) or an ongoing pregnancy.

What are the physical risks and side effects related to SURGICAL ABORTIONS?

Immediate physical risks and side effects of surgical abortions may include: cramping, nausea, fever, abdominal pain, anesthesia complications, infection, damage to the cervix, heavy or prolonged bleeding, endotoxic shock, convulsions, blood clots, tearing of the uterine lining and death. Long-term physical risks and side effects of surgical abortions may include: scar tissue, increased risk of breast cancer, increased risk of cervical cancer, damage to reproductive organs, increased risk of infertility and increased risk of miscarriage.

How will I feel after an abortion?

The reality and trauma of an abruptly ended pregnancy can bring on emotional and psychological side effects, ranging from regret to more serious complications like depression. You may experience these effects immediately following the abortion or unexpectedly several months to years later. The intensity or duration of these effects will also vary from one person to another. Emotional and psychological side effects may include: regret, anger, guilt, depression, anxiety, sense of loneliness or isolation, loss of self-confidence, flashbacks of pregnancy or abortion, insomnia or nightmares, eating disorders, relationship issues and suicidal thoughts.

It may seem like having an abortion is the easy solution to an unplanned pregnancy, and you can just move on. It is not that simple. It can be a life-changing event with significant physical and emotional consequences. Many women who have had past abortions will continue to struggle their entire lives with their abortion decision and wish they had been better informed about abortion procedures and the many risks and side effects.

DID YOU KNOW?  In the early weeks of pregnancy, the fetus pain sensory receptors are quickly developing, and the baby’s capability of experiencing pain increases as the pregnancy progresses.

Questions? Aid for Women is here to help. Call our 24-hour helpline at (312) 621-1100.

Medical and Surgical Abortion Procedures  |  Parenting  |  Adoption

Adoption

Call our 24-hour helpline (312) 621-1100.

Could adoption be a good plan for me and my baby? If the current circumstances in your life make parenting seem too difficult, you may want to consider an adoption plan. Many women consider abortion because they feel that it is not the right time to have a baby. Adoption is a way to give your child a future. Adoption can provide both a loving and life-giving choice for the mom, baby and adoptive family.

Some benefits of choosing adoption include:

  • You can pursue education and career plans;
  • You can live independently;
  • You will not parent before you are ready;
  • You will have plenty of time to plan your future and your baby's future;
  • You can choose to have continued contact with your child (in open adoption) and know how he or she is growing and developing.

As with the parenting and abortion options, it is important to understand the adoption option and to make a fully-informed decision. At Aid for Women, you can learn how the adoption process works and clear up any myths you have about adoption.  Adoption has changed drastically over the years, and you now have many more options in making an adoption plan. As the birth mother, you are in control when you make an adoption plan. You have the option of choosing the adoptive couple and deciding how involved you would like to be in your child's life. You can choose an open, semi-open or confidential adoption plan.

Although Aid for Women is not an adoption agency, you will not be alone in this decision. Our counselors and client advocates will provide you with accurate information and direct you to a licensed adoption agency to learn more about this loving and courageous choice.

Parenting  |  Abortion

 

Free Services

Call our 24-hour helpline (312) 621-1100.

Aid for Women understands that every woman’s situation is different. We provide a confidential and comfortable place for you to meet with our counselors and client advocates to discuss your situation. You will receive information and services to understand your options, make a fully-informed decision and move forward with your pregnancy plan. All services are offered FREE OF CHARGE.

PREGNANCY TESTS
The first step is to confirm whether or not you are pregnant. Aid for Women offers in-office pregnancy tests to give you immediate and accurate results during your visit.

ULTRASOUND EXAMS
Aid for Women offers on-site ultrasound exams to determine how far along you are in your pregnancy and to verify the viability of the pregnancy.

CONFIDENTIAL COUNSELING
When facing an unplanned pregnancy, it is important to understand all of your options. Our compassionate staff will discuss your individual situation, provide you with accurate information about your options and support you throughout your pregnancy decision.

CLIENT PROGRAMS
Aid for Women clients are invited to join our programs to receive ongoing support during their pregnancy and beyond. Programs offered include the Earn While You Learn Mentoring Program, Moms-to-Be Group, Parenting Group and Post-Abortion Group.

RESIDENTIAL PROGRAM - HEATHER’S HOUSE
Aid for Women operates Heather’s House, a residential program in Des Plaines, Illinois, for expectant moms, new moms and their children. Your counselor will help you assess your current living situation and possible options that are available to you during and after your pregnancy...more.

MEDICAL AND COMMUNITY REFERRALS
Women come to us with many different material, physical and emotional needs — including healthcare, housing, nutrition, employment and help with emotional or relationship issues. Aid for Women partners with a network of medical and community agencies throughout the Chicago area, allowing us to better address and serve the needs of our clients and their families.

Heather’s House

Call our 24-hour helpline (312) 621-1100.

Heather’s House, Aid for Women's residential program, provides a safe and 
supportive place to call home for young women who are pregnant, parenting
or making an adoption plan. Residents have the opportunity to develop many
important life skills, while pursuing educational and career goals.

Heather’s House programming includes pregnancy support, life skills classes,
parenting training, spiritual growth, educational assistance, one-on-one counseling,
employment assistance and follow-up services.

What is the application process? Your Aid for Women counselor will help you assess
your current living situation and possible options that are available to you during and
after your pregnancy. If it is determined that you are a candidate for Heather’s House,
your counselor will review the eligibility requirements and resident responsibilities with
you. You will then be asked to complete an application and to meet for an interview.

“As a resident of Heather’s House, I have been able to begin providing the best life
for me and my son by continuing school and work. I know it won’t be easy,
but I’ve learned that I have the ability to overcome hardships.” — Janessa, 20

 

How far along am I?

Call our 24-hour helpline (312) 621-1100.

It is important to confirm exactly how far along you are in your pregnancy and to understand the changes happening within your body as you think about the options that are available to you. Aid for Women offers free on-site ultrasound exams to determine the baby’s gestational age, the common term used to describe how many weeks along you are in the pregnancy.

Day 1 | CONCEPTION
At the moment of conception, when the sperm fertilizes the egg, a new and unique individual is formed. This new life may be smaller than a grain of sugar, but all the inherited features of this person are already set — whether it’s a boy or girl, the hair and eye color and the dimples of the cheeks.

Week 4 (You’ve missed your period!) | BEATING HEART
By the time you miss your period, the baby has already gone through lots of growth, including the beginning development of her brain and spinal cord. The heart now beats at a steady rhythm. Eyes, ears, arms and legs are beginning to form. The baby is about 1/4 inch in length.

Week 6 | A LITTLE FACE, FINGERS AND TOES
The baby is quickly developing into a little person. Her face makes its first appearance with tiny eyes, nose and mouth. Blood flows through the baby’s veins, and her fingers and toes are forming. The baby is about 1/2 inch in length.

Week 8 | TEETH, EYELIDS AND ORGANS
Her teeth buds appear, and facial muscles are developing. Eyelids begin to form to protect her tiny eyes, and every internal organ is now present. The baby is about 3/4 inch in length.

Week 10 | BONES, MUSCLES AND FINGERNAILS
The baby’s ears, bones, muscles and nerve connections continue to form. Her fingerprints and fingernails begin to develop. You cannot feel it yet, but the baby is moving her body and facial muscles. The baby is about 1 inch in length.

Week 12 | TASTE BUDS, HAIR AND SWALLOWING
The baby’s vocal cords and taste buds are forming. Fine hair begins to grow on her upper lip, chin and eyebrows. She is able to swallow and responds to skin stimulation. The baby is about 2 inches in length.

Week 14 | FACIAL EXPRESSIONS AND NERVE CELLS
The baby is making facial expressions and is active although you still cannot feel the movements. A burst in the production of the baby’s nerve cells begins and continues for the next month. Her kidneys are functioning to filter and reprocess her blood. Your baby has reached about 3 to 4 inches in length.

Week 16 | SOMERSAULTS AND SLEEPING HABITS
The baby is becoming more active and can turn somersaults at this point. You may start feeling “flutters” of her movement. Her nostrils are visible, and she starts to develop sleeping habits. Your baby has reached about 5 inches in length and will continue to grow rapidly in the coming weeks.

Week 18 | TWISTING, KICKING AND HEARING
Your baby may be large enough now for you to feel her twisting, kicking and punching. Your baby’s nervous system is rapidly maturing and forming more complex connections. Your baby has reached about 6 to 7 inches in length.

Week 20 | LOOKING LIKE A NEWBORN
The baby is starting to look like a newborn infant as the skin becomes less transparent and fat begins to develop. The baby is also starting to act like a newborn by sucking her thumb and developing sleeping habits. The baby has reached about 10 inches in length.

Week 22 | BABY HEARS YOU
Your baby’s hearing is growing more acute, making her more conscious of sounds that come from inside your body (which means she can hear your heartbeat and hiccup!). Her eyes will soon begin to open, preparing to see the outside world. The baby has reached about 11 inches in length and weighs about 1 pound.

DID YOU KNOW? Babies as young as 22 weeks have survived with the assistance of medical technology. A normal pregnancy will continue for 36 to 41 weeks.

Locations

Call (312) 621-1100 for location hours and appointments.

Downtown Loop  8 S. Michigan Ave., Suite 812, Chicago, IL    map
Wicker Park (Thiele Center)  1510 N. Claremont Ave., Chicago, IL    map
Back of the Yards (Port Free Clinic)  5013 S. Hermitage Ave., Chicago, IL    map
Cicero  1400 S. Austin Blvd., Cicero, IL    map
Des Plaines  1150 N. River Rd., Des Plaines, IL    map
Se habla español.

In College?

Get directions from local colleges to one of our five Chicago-area locations.

Downtown Loop

City College of Chicago (Harold Washington)
City Colleges of Chicago (Malcolm X)
City Colleges of Chicago (Wilber Wright)
Columbia College
DePaul University (Downtown Loop)
DePaul University (Lincoln Park)
Loyola University (Downtown)
Loyola University (Lake Shore)
Northeastern Illinois University
Northwestern University (Evanston)
Robert Morris University
Roosevelt University
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
University of Chicago
University of Illinois (Chicago)

Wicker Park

City Colleges of Chicago (Wilber Wright)
Columbia College
DePaul University (Lincoln Park)
Dominican University
Loyola University (Downtown)
Northwestern University (Evanston)
Northeastern Illinois University

Back of the Yards

Roosevelt University

Cicero

Dominican University
University of Ilinois (Chicago)

Des Plaines

City Colleges of Chicago (Wilber Wright)
Northwestern University (Evanston)
Oakton Community College
Northeastern Illinois University