Free Parenting Classes

Facing an unplanned pregnancy can be a scary and uncertain time. You might be wondering whether you have what it takes to carry, deliver, and parent a child or whether adequate resources are available to support you as you face these realities before you feel ready. Willow Womens Center in Beloit, WI, is here to help. With various services, including free parenting classes for women (and their partners) facing an unplanned pregnancy, we can help you build and practice the skills you need to parent all of your children, including those who haven’t been born yet.

Overview of Parenting Classes

After learning of an unplanned pregnancy, you have three options: to terminate the pregnancy through abortion, to gift the child to another family through adoption, or to parent the child yourself. At Willow Womens Center, we often hear women say that they feel pressured to terminate because they simply don’t have the resources they need to carry the child to term or, if considering parenting, to parent a child in the way they’d like to parent him or her. That’s why we offer a series of free parenting classes. We believe all women facing unplanned pregnancies deserve access to the information and resources they need to make the most informed and empowered decision about their pregnancy without pressure or judgment. Willow Womens Center offers a series of three free parenting classes designed to address all the stages and challenges that parents might face. Whether you are pregnant with your first child or already have children at home, you will leave with new learnings that will empower you to raise healthy, happy, and successful children.

Free Parenting Program Types

Willow Womens Center offers the following classes: Early Childhood, Youth with Challenging Pasts, and Parenting with Love and Logic for all ages.

Early Childhood Program

Did you know that you need to begin setting limits with your new baby when they are as young as 8–12 months old? For many parents, the first temper tantrum can be overwhelming and lead you to question whether you really know what you are doing as a parent –– or even to give in and lean toward a trend of giving your child whatever they want to avoid conflict and what might look like hurt feelings or loss of trust.

Even the youngest children need limits in order to stay safe and learn critical self-discipline skills, which will set them up for happiness, healthiness, and success later in life.

In Early Childhood Parenting Made Fun®, parents learn through video presentations, discussions, modeling, reading, and group exercises how to:

  • stay calm even in the most stressful situations you will face as a parent
  • use the smaller natural and logical consequences of childhood to teach lessons about larger consequences later in life
  • teach your children how to solve problems
  • set limits without power struggles between parent and child
  • foster responsibility, achievement, and resiliency

This course is geared toward the parents of children under six and is even appropriate for those who are still expecting their first child.

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Parenting All Ages

Knowing how to address challenging behaviors and discipline in a healthy, loving, and productive way is one of the most difficult aspects of parenting. This program removes the ambiguity from the topic and gives you a simple approach that simply works, restoring peace in your home and empowering you to raise children who have the skills they need to cope with life’s challenges.

The Parenting with Love and Logic® program helps you create an environment that encourages that responsibility, resiliency, and achievement without power struggles and misbehavior. Using the skills you learn in this course, you will teach your children responsibility and character using natural and logical consequences, which are minor in early childhood, helping them avoid the major natural consequences that can occur when they misbehave as adults. This course is designed for parents with children of all ages.

After each session of this course, parents are challenged to consider how they can apply what they have learned at home, making the skills actionable and practical and better preparing you to put your education into practice.

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Youth with Challenging Pasts

Raising children who have experienced trauma in early childhood requires a unique skill set, but with the right approach, children with challenging pasts can lead healthy and happy lives. For many of us, our children have faced trauma despite our best intentions and sometimes through no fault of our own. Things like domestic violence, hunger, sexual abuse, or lack of attachment due to separation (like hospitalization) from the primary caregiver, post-partum depression, drug addiction, imprisonment, or other issues.

Love and Logic: Adults Supporting Youth with Challenging Pasts® can help you understand how trauma impacts development and behavior and build skills to meet the needs of children who have faced adversity in the past. The course gives you an opportunity to consider how you will apply what you learned or ‘practice,’ so you can use your new skills right away.

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Benefits of Parenting Classes

Parenting classes provide a myriad of benefits for families:

  • Improvement of parental competency, helping you feel more effective and satisfied. It can improve your attitude about parenting and even your self-esteem.
  • Parenting classes promote the use of positive practices like family routines, planned discipline, and positive language – all nurturing behaviors.
  • Improvement of your children’s behavior. Children whose parents have taken parenting classes are more likely to demonstrate sharing and empathy and less likely to demonstrate aggression and delinquency.

Additional Benefits

  • Providing an opportunity for networking. Parenting classes allow parents to connect with others facing similar challenges and even develop new relationships they can lean on while they apply what they learned.
  • Improvement of your own mental health! Parents who have access to parenting classes are less likely to develop depression, guilt, anger, anxiety, and stress.
  • Parenting classes reduce the risk of child abuse. Having these tools under your belt can help reduce the use of corporal punishment and child abuse, keeping your children healthy.

Could You Be Further Along in Pregnancy Than You Think?
can you be further along in pregnancy than you think

Trying to determine when you are due and whether that due date is correct, can be challenging, especially if you feel “bigger” than you did with previous pregnancies or you are measuring ahead during your appointments. This blog post explores signs that your due date might be off, factors that can influence an inaccurate due date, and how to estimate your due date based on your menstrual cycle.

Signs Your Due Date Is Off

If you don’t know the first date of your last menstrual period, you don’t know your average cycle length, or you have mistaken bleeding during pregnancy for menstruation, your assumed due date can be inaccurate. Some of the most common signs that your due date might be off are:

  • your ultrasound-predicted due date is more than a week from your menstrual-cycle due date
  • your fundal height is off, especially if it is off by more than 3 cm
  • your due date was determined by fetal Doppler or an ultrasound in the second or third trimester; these are less accurate ways to estimate the due date.

It is important to rely on the expertise of your OBGYN or other physician to help you understand how your due date was calculated, what outliers like a fundal height that is measuring ahead might mean for you (fundal height is the distance from the pubic bone to the top of the uterus measured in centimeters), and what you can expect when it comes to gestational length. Ultrasound-determined due dates are most accurate during the first trimester, and measuring ‘ahead’ doesn’t result in a changed due date in most cases.

In short, it is common to deliver a few weeks before to one week after your due date, and true due date changes are less common and should be made by a provider based on all of the information they have available to them.

Influencing Factors

A number of studies have evaluated average gestation length as it relates to different factors, like age, race, pregnancy history, and more. Here’s what those studies have revealed:

  • length of gestation increases with maternal age, so mothers who are under 25 are likely to have shorter pregnancies than women who are over 25, for example
  • length of gestation is longer for women with higher birth weights themselves, i.e. women who weighed more at birth will carry a pregnancy longer on average than women who weighed less at birth
  • women with longer implantation periods also have longer pregnancies
  • smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, or both increase the risk of preterm birth and shorten gestation overall
  • black women have shorter pregnancies than white women by 5 days on average
  • pregnancies with male fetuses are longer on average than pregnancies with female fetuses
  • gestation decreases as the number of fetuses increases; i.e. singleton pregnancies are longer on average than twin pregnancies and length continues to decrease as the number of fetuses increases

While all of these factors can influence how long you can expect to be pregnant, your due date will remain the same. That means that even if you and your provider suspect that you will deliver early or late, your due date won’t be adjusted to account for that – it will remain at 40 weeks past the first day of your last menstrual period.

How to Estimate An Accurate Due Date

First, it is important to note that your due date is simply an estimate; it can help you plan and prepare and help you and your doctors make decisions in the case of early delivery or complications, but it cannot predict exactly when you will go into labor. Your due date is typically set for 40 weeks after the first day of your last menstrual period, and most women deliver sometime after 37 weeks and before 41 weeks.

Tracking your periods can help you estimate an accurate due date. To estimate your own due date:

  1. Identify the first date of your last normal menstrual period. Some women mistake bleeding during pregnancy for their menstrual period and don’t realize they are pregnant, so it is important to reflect on whether the period was as heavy, as long, and as uncomfortable as it has typically been in the past. If you can’t remember or don’t keep track of your menstrual cycle, sometimes it can be helpful to think about where you were at or what you were doing when it started and then cross-reference your calendar.
  2. Add 40 weeks or 280 days. There are a variety of free pregnancy due date calculators online, like this one from the American Pregnancy Association, that will do the math for you so you don’t have to count it out yourself.

Then, you can calculate how many weeks or months pregnant you are at any given time, using these formulas:

  • Number of weeks pregnant: take the number of days that have passed since the first day of your last menstrual period divided by 7
  • Number of months pregnant: take the number of days that have passed since the first day of your last menstrual period divided by 30

Keep in mind that you will be two weeks further along in your pregnancy than you might think; for example, if you had sex and conceived two weeks ago, and you have a 28 day cycle, then you are actually four weeks pregnant.

Getting Help for an Unexpected Pregnancy

If you think you might be pregnant and are weighing your options, scheduling an early pregnancy test and ultrasound is one reliable way to estimate your due date when you don’t know the first day of your last menstrual period. Early knowledge of pregnancy is key to ensuring a healthy lifestyle, adequate nutrition, and time to explore options, especially in the case of an unexpected or surprise pregnancy. Willow Womens Center offers pregnancy testing, pregnancy options counseling, and ultrasound for women who test positive in our office. Ultrasounds are most productive if you are approximately 6 weeks from your last menstrual period. If you are experiencing the signs and symptoms of pregnancy, schedule your confidential visit at  Willow Womens Center today.

Being Pressured into Abortion? What Next?
being pressured into abortion

At Willow Womens Center, we frequently meet women who share that they are facing pressure to have an abortion. This pressure can make an already complex decision much more confusing during such a difficult time. In this blog post, we will review different types of pressure, your rights as a woman who is expecting (regardless of age), and what you can do in this situation.

Different Types of Pressure

While some women know for sure that their partner or parents are applying pressure, other women feel confused about the behavior they are seeing and experiencing. That pressure comes in many forms.

Direct pressure occurs when your partner (or in some cases, your parent or parents) tells you to get an abortion. They may tell you that they do not want a child, will not stay with you if you have the child, will not claim the child, or they will not support the child. In some cases, a woman may even be subject to verbal or physical abuse if she resists this pressure to terminate her pregnancy.

Indirect pressure occurs when your partner plants seeds of doubt in your mind without directly demanding that you terminate the pregnancy. For example, he might say things like, “I just don’t know if your mental health can really handle this right now,” to a woman who has a diagnosis of anxiety or depression, or, “How are you going to afford this on your own?” to a woman who does not work outside the home. He might insinuate that your relationship will not survive, your body won’t bounce back, your finances won’t suffice, or other aspects of your life will suffer if you move forward with the pregnancy. After these comments, you might believe it was your own decision to have an abortion.

Situational pressure is more difficult to identify and occurs when a situation is not conducive to pregnancy or parenthood. Perhaps none of your friends have children and having a baby will leave you feeling ostracized or left out, or perhaps your parents are absent in your life so you do not believe you have the role models or support you need to provide a loving home for a child. Maybe you feel that having a child out of wedlock or born of an affair will lead to being shunned or judged by your peers at work or in school. These are all examples of situational pressure.

Legalities When Being Pressured into Abortion

There are several things you need to know about your legal rights if you are being pressured to have an abortion.

Nobody can force you to terminate a pregnancy. Even if you are under 18 years old, you cannot be forced to have an abortion against your will. Depending on the jurisdiction, the person attempting to force you to have an abortion can potentially be charged with coercion, a form of abuse. If you feel like you are not safe because you are refusing to have an abortion, contact the police and request a protection order.

You can always withdraw your consent even after you have already scheduled an appointment to have an abortion. Many women change their minds after scheduling an appointment they were pressured to schedule, but do not know that they can change their minds after signing consent. Until the abortion has been performed, you have a right to change your mind – even if you are already at the clinic or you have already taken one of the abortion pills. Abortion pill reversals may be available.

What to Do Next

First, schedule an appointment at Willow Womens Center to learn about all your options. We are located in Beloit, Wisconsin and offer pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, STI testing, community resources, and more to help you make the most informed decision possible during this difficult and often confusing time.

It is also important to give whoever is pressuring you some time and space to work through their feelings. Remember that an unplanned pregnancy causes emotions for you and other people that are close to you, such as your partner or a parent. Invite them to come with you to your appointment at our clinic, where they can see the ultrasound images and can find out some of the important information together with you.

Share your pregnancy with others who will support you. If you are not getting the support you need from your partner, it is important to share your news with friends or family members who will support you and can help you with your decision. These days can be less stressful when you have the right people alongside you, and often you also need somebody to talk to as you experience the ups and downs of pregnancy.

Finally, take time to get to explore what you want. Ask yourself what your plans for your future and your values are and how these will be impacted by your decision. Explore your fears and worries about this unexpected pregnancy in depth and get support to work through them with a friend, mentor, or counselor. Ask yourself what is important to you, how this pregnancy fits into that, and what kind of decisions you need to make now to align with your plans and values and who you are as a person.

Getting Help From Willow Womens Center

Facing an unplanned pregnancy is complicated in any situation, but it becomes infinitely more challenging if you feel pressured to make a decision that you may not want. Take the first step toward making an informed decision that you can stand behind and schedule a consultation with Willow Womens Center in Beloit, Wisconsin today. During your appointment, we can provide pregnancy testing, perform an ultrasound examination, and share all the options available to you, including abortion, so you can make the most informed decision about your future.

Surgical Abortion vs Pill: What You Should Know

Deciding whether to continue or terminate a pregnancy is challenging, and then determining the safest and most effective way to determine adds an additional challenge during a sensitive time in your life. In this blog post, we’ll share everything you need to know about both medical and surgical abortion options so you can make the most informed decision if you choose to end a pregnancy.

What is a Surgical Abortion vs Pill?

When you begin exploring your options for terminating an unplanned pregnancy or a pregnancy that isn’t viable, you’ll learn that there are two general kinds of abortion: medical or surgical. In this blog post, we’ll describe each type of abortion including eligibility criteria, what to expect, recovery, and long-term outcomes to help you make the most informed decision about your future.

Medical Abortion

Medical abortion is often referred to as ‘the abortion pill’ and refers to a combination of two medications that are designed to end pregnancy with surgery in its earliest stages.

When is the Abortion Pill Recommended?

Women who are up to 11 weeks pregnant may be candidates for the abortion pill, but the effectiveness of the medication wanes as the pregnancy progresses, which means it’s most effective for women who are up to 8 weeks pregnant. Specifically, effectiveness by gestation is:

  • 94-98% effective for women who are 8 weeks pregnant or less
  • 94-96% effective for women who are 8-9 weeks pregnant
  • 91-93% effective for women who are 9-10 weeks pregnant
  • 87% effective for women who are 10-11 weeks pregnant

In some cases, women who are 9-11 weeks pregnant can be given an extra dose of medication to increase the likelihood of a successful termination.

What Should I Expect During My Medical Abortion?

A medical abortion requires several clinic appointments in Wisconsin. First, you’ll visit a pregnancy clinic for a consultation appointment. During that appointment, we’ll confirm your pregnancy, viability, and gestation and discuss all of your options with you.

If you choose to terminate the pregnancy, you’ll be referred to a clinic that performs abortions for a counseling appointment. In Wisconsin, the counseling must be provided at least 24 hours before the abortion is administered, so you’ll come back 24 hours later to take the first medication, which is called mifepristone. Mifepristone blocks your body’s progesterone, which is needed to continue pregnancy. Then you’ll take a second pill called misoprostol, which causes your uterus to empty. You can expect to experience cramping and bleeding, which might be uncomfortable or even painful, after you take the second pill. When you take that pill will depend on your provider’s instructions.

What are My Options if the Abortion Pill Doesn’t Work?

If you don’t experience bleeding within a day of taking the misoprostol, you may be able to receive another dose or move forward with a surgical abortion. Contact your doctor or nurse to let them know that you didn’t bleed after your medical abortion.

What are the Benefits of Medical Abortion?

Many women choose medical abortion if they’re eligible because it allows them to avoid a surgical procedure and the recovery that comes with it. It can also be performed earlier in the pregnancy and for some women, offers greater privacy as they don’t have to arrange a support person for travel after their procedure.

Surgical Abortion

Surgical abortion, which is also called suction aspiration abortion, refers to the surgical procedure designed to terminate a pregnancy.

When is Surgical Abortion Recommended?

Surgical abortion can be performed to terminate pregnancy for women who are up to 19 weeks and 6 days pregnant in Wisconsin (and in cases when the mother’s life is in danger, up to 22 weeks pregnant). For this reason, surgical abortion is appropriate for many women who are not candidates for medical abortion due to length of gestation. Some medical providers delay surgical abortion until after 7 weeks gestation.

Surgical abortion is 98-99% effective, making it more effective overall than medical abortion.

What Should I Expect During My Surgical Abortion?

In most cases, surgical abortion is a one-day, outpatient procedure. Per Wisconsin state law, you’ll be counseled on your options at least 24 hours prior to your appointment. If you choose to proceed with surgical abortion, your healthcare team will provide you with pre-op instructions so you know how to prepare for your appointment and recovery.

On the day of your procedure, you’ll be given medications to help manage your pain and relax your cervix. Much like you do during an annual exam, you’ll lie on an exam table and place your feet in the stirrups. A speculum is inserted in your vagina so your cervix can be dilated and pregnancy tissue can be removed using gentle suction.

You may experience some cramping and discomfort during and after the procedure. You’ll need a driver to take you home after the procedure, but you’ll be able to return to regular activity the next day.

Women who are more than fourteen weeks pregnant will likely need to stay in the hospital overnight and may have a different experience and recovery. Your doctor can help you understand what to expect.

What are My Options if the Abortion Doesn’t Work?

Surgical abortion is very rarely unsuccessful. In the rare case that a surgical abortion is unsuccessful, discuss your options with your healthcare provider. You may be eligible for a repeat procedure.

What are the Benefits of Surgical Abortion?

Some women choose surgical abortion because it can be performed later in pregnancy, it requires fewer office visits, it produces less bleeding afterward, and it’s more effective overall than medical abortion.

What Method is Right for Me?

Willow Womens Center can help you evaluate your options when facing an unexpected pregnancy. For women who choose to end an unplanned pregnancy, both medical and surgical termination are effective options. When it comes to surgical abortion vs pill, there is no best option for all patients; consulting with your healthcare provider is imperative for making the most informed decision.

Schedule an appointment with Willow Womens Center to explore your options for unplanned pregnancy today.

How to Take Care of Yourself After an Abortion

Having an abortion may have turned out to be more challenging than you expected it to be, and self-care is critically important afterward.

If you are recovering from a medical or surgical abortion, you are not alone. Research reveals that in the United States, 24% of women aged 15 to 44 years will have an abortion by age 45.

What can you do to improve your healing process after an abortion? Read on to learn more about how to care for yourself physically and emotionally while you are recovering from an abortion.

How to Take Care of Yourself After an Abortion 

Whether you had a medical or surgical abortion, self-care is essential so you can recover and thrive. Self-care during this time includes resting, drinking plenty of fluids, eating healthy foods, and incorporating anything healthy and comforting to you. 

If you were prescribed antibiotics, take all the pills until they are gone to prevent infection. And take antinausea and pain medication as directed. 

Remember that you can get pregnant very quickly after an abortion, so take precautions to prevent another unexpected pregnancy. 

You are valuable and deserve to care for yourself physically and emotionally.

1. How to Care for Yourself Physically After Abortion 

After an abortion, you need to know which physical side effects are expected and which symptoms indicate a complication requiring immediate medical attention. First, we will discuss common side effects after abortion and how to take care of yourself if you experience them. 

  • Bleeding

Some women have minimal bleeding after a surgical abortion because surgical instruments are used on the uterine lining. But on average, post-abortion bleeding lasts 14 days and can last as long as six weeks. Passing small blood clots is normal, and you may notice that bleeding increases if you are more active.

Try to physically get as much rest as you can for the first day or two after an abortion. Also, avoid heavy lifting or strenuous exercise for about one week.

Use pads for the bleeding since most healthcare professionals recommend not putting anything into your vagina for two weeks, including tampons. This is to prevent infection while waiting for your cervix to close after having an abortion.

  • Cramping

Your uterus needs to return to its pre-pregnancy size, so uncomfortable cramping is normal after an abortion.

For cramping relief, you can take Ibuprofen or Tylenol as directed. Do not take aspirin because it can increase bleeding. A heating pad on your abdomen can also relieve cramping pain. 

Uterine massage is another effective way to alleviate cramping. To do uterine massage, press the palm of your hand into your abdomen and rub in a circular motion.

Post-abortion cramping can come and go for about 7 to 10 days. As with post-abortion bleeding, cramps may increase with activity so listen to your body and pace yourself.

  • Nausea/Vomiting

Nausea and vomiting for the first 24 hours after abortion is common and may also be accompanied by diarrhea.  

To help with these symptoms, you can eat small, bland, starchy meals such as dry toast or crackers. It may also help to have beverages on hand with extra electrolytes.

The following symptoms are NOT normal after an abortion. If you experience them, seek out medical care immediately.

  • Heavy bleeding: soaking two or more maxi pads an hour for two hours or passing clots larger than a golf ball for two hours or more
  • Severe abdominal or back pain: pain not relieved with pain medication
  • Fever over 100.4°: may indicate a serious infection that has spread to your bloodstream or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Odorous vaginal discharge: a sign of infection
  • Nausea and vomiting for more than 24 hours after the abortion:
  • You still have pregnancy symptoms two weeks after the abortion: could indicate a failed abortion if you are still experiencing signs of pregnancy two weeks after your abortion

2. How to Care for Yourself Emotionally After Abortion

There is not a correct way to feel after an abortion. Feelings of relief, sadness, or a combination of many conflicting emotions are normal. You have not only just made one of the most difficult decisions you have ever faced, but your body is experiencing physical symptoms as your hormone levels shift suddenly, which can cause you to feel extra emotional.

Research indicates that abortion is associated with mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders compared to women without a history of abortion. If you notice that you are having difficulty coping after an abortion, help is available for you. If a supportive family member or friend is not available, there are other resources to get the help you need.

Push yourself to reach out for help – even if you may not feel like seeking support at the moment. The sooner you can address post-abortion emotional difficulties, the quicker you can get on your path to recovery.

You can reach confidential hotlines for mental health support at SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), or via text message: 435748 (HELP4U). It is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year information service in English and Spanish.

If you have thoughts of harming yourself, take it seriously and call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. What you are feeling is temporary, and with compassionate support and over time things will improve!

Need Support After Abortion?

If you think you might be unexpectedly pregnant or need support after abortion, Willow Womens Center is here for you. From the moment you walk into our center, you will recognize an atmosphere of care that will never include judgment for any decision you make – or have already made. Instead, our role is to compassionately come alongside you and provide you with the answers you need so you can take informed next steps for yourself.

You will never be charged for any services we offer at Willow Womens Center. Pregnancy testing, education, ultrasounds, and STI testing are all at no cost to you and designed to empower you.

Get the caring support you deserve and make your confidential appointment today.