Peer Health

Pregnancy

These pages are NOT intended solely for women.

Not only may a woman dealing with pregnancy wish to gather information about the options available to her, but a man may wish to learn of his partner’s choices and opportunities.

Pregnancy Testing

The type of pregnancy test used at the Health Center, other clinics and in home pregnancy kits requires a small sample of urine. The amount of the hormone human chorionic gonadatropin (HCG), a chemical produced by a developing placenta and excreted in the urine, is then measured. Most tests can detect this hormone (and thus pregnancy) as early as ten days from conception, which may be before a period is actually missed. A test done earlier than 10 days after the sexual encounter involved may not be accurate.

Through the Health Center

Free, confidential pregnancy testing is available at the Health Center 24 hours a day. This is a walk-in service, and the results of the test are available within minutes. The test results become part of your confidential medical record.

Through Peer Health

To provide anonymous pregnancy testing at the Health Center, Peer Health educators trained in pregnancy testing procedures and basic pregnancy options counseling are available by appointment. An educator will accompany you to the Health Center and serve as an intermediary between you and the nurse. Pregnancy tests done through Peer Health will not appear on your health record unless you decide to speak to a health professional. Check the Daily Advisor for the name and number of an educator or call Peer Health at 597-3140 to make an appointment. The test can usually be done within 24 hours of a request, and results of the test are available within minutes.

At North Adams Family Planning

Pregnancy testing is also available at North Adams Family Planning, 85 Main Street, North Adams. There is a charge for the test, which is usually done while you wait. Call them at 663-8846 for an appointment or further information.

Home Pregnancy Tests

Over-the-counter (non-prescription) home pregnancy testing kits may be purchased from local drug stores for about $15.00. When the directions are followed precisely, these kits can provide accurate results within half an hour. A positive result should be confirmed with a health care professional.

Making a Decision


Accurate information and counseling are two important components in making the best decision about a pregnancy. There are a number of people on campus who are prepared to assist women and their partners. Information and counseling are available from the Health Center, Psychological Counseling Services, Peer Health and the Chaplain’s Office. Family Planning of Western Massachusetts in North Adams or Pittsfield also provides pregnancy counseling.

Abortion

Making the choice to terminate a pregnancy in Massachusetts is any woman’s legal right. If a woman chooses the abortion option, the Health Center can make arrangements for her to have the procedure performed at Williamstown Medical Associates. For women who would like someone to accompany them, Peer Health can provide you a list of those willing to do so. The Health Center also offers aftercare for those women wishing to spend the night there after the procedure.

The specific abortion procedure used will depend on how many weeks have passed since the first day of your last menstrual period. The earlier an abortion is done, the safer and easier the procedure. In fact, the first trimester abortion (8-12 weeks after the first day of the last menstrual period) is statistically safer than a tonsillectomy.

After an abortion, it is natural to experience a mixture of positive and negative feelings. A sense of relief may be complicated by sadness, guilt or a sense of loss. A woman may feel new strength and personal empowerment in having made and carried out an important and often difficult decision. If the pregnancy was caused by a birth control failure, unprotected intercourse or nonconsenual sex, a woman may feel angry about the abortion. It is common to have negative feelings about sex, particularly int ercourse, for a time following an abortion. The decision may also change a woman’s relationships with her partner, friends, or family. Emotionally recovering from an abortion may be a longer process for some women. This can be made easier with the help of a sympathetic and ideally objective friend, relative, counselor, or support group.

Adoption

Adoption involves voluntarily transferring all responsibilities for the care of your child from the birth parent to adoptive parents. In Massachusetts, all adoptions are legally binding and are arranged through the court system and a licensed adoption agency. You should not sign adoption papers until you are completely sure of your decision. Independent adoption, placing the child directly with adoptive parents, is illegal. Legal and medical fees are usually covered by the agency and the adoptive parents. If the birth father can be identified, he will have to consent to the adoption.

Several area agencies can provide support in making decision regarding adoption. Some adoption plans allow a birth mother more choices and even knowledge of who will adopt her child. Places to turn for counseling and information include the Berkshire Center for Families and Children (Pittsfield 448-8281), North Adams Family Planning (663-8846), and Life Right of North Adams, Inc. (664-4106).

Having and Rearing a Child

Deciding to continue a pregnancy and raise a child is a serious commitment. Pre-natal care should begin immediately. Student health insurance covers neither pre-natal care nor delivery costs. This insurance provides no benefits for healthy newborns, but the health policy may be extended prior to delivery to cover the child as a dependent through the Bursar’s Office. At Williams, housing for a student who has a child will be arranged by the Dean’s Office.