Open Arms Blog

If you follow the news, you've probably seen headlines and read about "heartbeat laws" passing in various states throughout the US. Several states passed them last year in an attempt to bring our current abortion laws up to date with newer scientific discoveries. As you follow these stories, you may be wondering, when does the fetal heartbeat begin?

When Does the Fetal Heartbeat Begin?

The fetal heartbeat begins as early as six weeks into a pregnancy (meaning six weeks after the first day of your last menstrual period). This is when it can be detected via ultrasound, and the heartbeat can be heard at that time as well.

If you think you're pregnant, the first step is to have a clinical pregnancy test done. If your test is positive, you can then schedule an ultrasound to detect the fetal heartbeat and learn more about the pregnancy.

Have other questions?

If you're facing an unplanned pregnancy and would like more information about your pregnancy, we can help! One of our Case Managers will sit down with you to discuss your pregnancy, provide information on all of your options, and help you process your decision if you're not sure what you'd like to do.

We offer education on abortion, adoption, and parenting so you can be fully informed. Many people facing an unplanned pregnancy feel overwhelmed and uncertain about the next steps. All of our appointments are free and confidential to help you think through your options in a warm and caring atmosphere.

Schedule an ultrasound

If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy and would like to know if there is a heartbeat or want to see images of the developing fetus, we provide those free of charge. You can schedule an ultrasound appointment to learn more about gestational age as well as the location of the pregnancy.

Sometimes pregnancies are located outside the uterus and are not viable. They can be life-threatening to you and need to be treated medically right away.

If you are pregnant and have not yet had an ultrasound, schedule yours today.  All of our services are free and confidential.

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Getting pregnant in school probably wasn't part of your plan for your life. Maybe you thought it could never happen to you and now you're uncertain about what to do.

Being pregnant in school can be hard, but it's not impossible and it isn't the end of your life. Here are five steps you can take and things you can do to make it easier and help you process your decision constructively.

1. Get a pregnancy test

The first thing to do if you think you're pregnant is to make sure via a pregnancy test.  We offer free clinical pregnancy testing and will always keep your visit and results confidential.

Remember, you can have symptoms of pregnancy without actually being pregnant. However, if your period is abnormally late and you are having pregnancy symptoms, it's important to find out for certain.

Schedule your appointment today and we'll not only provide the testing for free but can also help you process the next steps. Take a deep breath, slow down, and take a pregnancy test before doing anything else.

2. Get an ultrasound

After a positive pregnancy test, the next step is to get an ultrasound. This is important for many reasons.

First, an ultrasound will reveal precisely how far along you are in the pregnancy.

Second, an ultrasound will confirm that the pregnancy is in the right location. Ectopic pregnancies are pregnancies that are located outside of the uterus. While rare (1%-2% of pregnancies are ectopic), they are not viable and can be life-threatening so it's important to make sure the pregnancy is in the right location.

Third, an ultrasound will determine whether or not the fetus has a heartbeat. If there is no heartbeat, the pregnancy will most likely end on its own.

The Open Arms Pregnancy Clinic offers free ultrasound exams for the purpose of confirming a viable pregnancy.  Gathering this information is an important step before choosing your path forward.

3. Tell a friend

While this decision is yours to make, you shouldn't make it alone. Confiding in a friend can help relieve some of the stress of your situation and help you process everything more clearly.

If you can, it may be helpful to confide in your parents. They may be disappointed initially, but they may also become an important part of your support system moving forward.

If you need help telling your parents or a friend, you can schedule a time to meet with one of our case managers who can help you map out the conversation and what you want to say. Preparing for this conversation will help you enter into it with more confidence, especially if you've thought ahead about some of their possible questions or concerns.

4. Know your options

As you process what to do in your unplanned pregnancy, it's important to clearly understand all of your options (parenting, adoption, abortion) and the ramifications of those options.  The Open Arms Pregnancy Clinic specializes in helping people like you who are facing pregnancy-related decisions. This is especially important if you feel conflicted about the best choice or want someone to help you talk it through.  You don't have to navigate this alone. We are here to help.

5. Make a plan

Now that you've taken the above steps to gather as much information as is helpful, it's time to put together a plan and you'll want to have a strong support system as you move forward.

If you need help making a plan, or want to continue exploring your options, our case managers and nurses are here for you. We know an unintended pregnancy can be an overwhelming situation and we want to help take some of the pressure off. Please schedule your free appointment today.

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What is a Toothpaste Pregnancy Test and is it Accurate?

There are many symptoms that can indicate you're pregnant -- being repulsed by smells that used to bring you joy, craving the Thai food from across town, and also feeling like you might vomit at any second are all excellent clues.

When you feel terrible, the last thing you want to do is go to the drugstore to buy a pregnancy test. You may have heard of the toothpaste pregnancy test, and wondered if it actually works. Again, skipping the trip to the drugstore sounds so appealing ... and while some people trust these DIY tests, you probably shouldn't.

How the toothpaste pregnancy test is supposed to work

Proponents of this method claim that a chemical reaction occurs between toothpaste and your urine, so they instruct people to squirt toothpaste (preferably white) into a cup, urinate into a separate cup, and then slowly pour the urine into the toothpaste cup.

When the two combine, the chemical reaction of a fizz or color change, is supposed to indicate whether or not you're pregnant. They theorize that it works similarly to a traditional urine pregnancy test by detecting the hormone hCG. This hormone is only produced in a woman's body during pregnancy and is believed to cause many of the tell-tale signs of pregnancy like nausea and fatigue.

And while people claim this "test" can detect the hCG hormone, in reality, any chemical reaction when the urine and toothpaste are mixed is likely just caused by the acidity of your urine.

Is the toothpaste pregnancy test accurate?

As you may imagine, no, it is not. If you think you're pregnant, as tempting as it may be to try some easy DIY pregnancy tests, you really do need to take an actual pregnancy test. Confirming you're pregnant is the most important thing to do before making any other decisions about your pregnancy.

The Open Arms Pregnancy Clinic offers free pregnancy confirmation and consultations. All of our appointments are confidential, and our consultations are designed to give you the information you need to make a fully-informed choice if you are pregnant. We also offer free ultrasounds to determine how far along you are, the viability of the pregnancy, and to detect if there is a fetal heartbeat.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact us today.

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How to Tell Your Parents You're Pregnant

Telling your parents you are pregnant can be intimidating and scary, especially if you are a student and the pregnancy was unplanned. But, after adjusting to the news, they may become a source of support through this journey. 

Here are some tips for having this conversation with your parents.

Pick a good time

Timing matters. People tend to be more emotional when they're tired, so late at night might not be the best time to have this conversation with them. Also take into consideration what else is going on and try to pick a time when they're less busy.

Let your parents know you want to have a conversation with them about something important so they can prioritize it and be prepared to listen.

Take someone with you

If you're concerned about how your parents will react and fear they'll be upset, plan to have someone supportive with you when you tell them.  Consider bringing along another family member, the father of the baby, or a friend.  Having some moral support, and someone who can advocate for you, can be very helpful.

Prepare for their questions

They'll likely want to know details, especially if they don't know much about your relationship with the father of the baby. Be emotionally and mentally prepared for their questions about who, what, when, where, and how long you've known. If they were not aware that you have been sexually active, take into consideration their possible shock at this news as well.

Present a plan

You are likely still processing the fact that you're pregnant so you don't have to have all the details figured out yet, but begin putting together a plan for your pregnancy in order to show responsibility and that you're taking this seriously. This will help reassure them you're thinking this through and are beginning to take action to prepare.

If you need help putting together a plan or want to discuss more tips about having this conversation with your parents, please schedule an appointment to see us. We offer free counseling sessions to help you process your unplanned pregnancy and can help you prepare for this important conversation as well.

Give them time

You've had some time to adjust to the news of your pregnancy, and it's reasonable to expect your parents to need some time to adjust as well.  It's important to understand that how they react initially won't necessarily be how they will feel later.  Give them time to adjust to the news, and avoid making a rushed or panicked decision.

No one can force you

Many women make a decision they really don't want regarding their unplanned pregnancy because people close to them pressured them into it. As you tell your parents about your pregnancy, remember that ultimately the decision about what you do is up to you. Yes, you'll likely need their support, especially if you're still in school. But that doesn't mean they can force you to make a decision against your will.

Remember, you are not alone. If you need support, guidance, resources, or just a listening ear, the Open Arms Pregnancy Clinic is here for you. 

Feel free to schedule an appointment for our free services.  We are here to help.

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Why an Ultrasound is Important if You're Considering Abortion

Facing an unexpected pregnancy can be very overwhelming. You have a lot to consider as you process information on all of your options. If you are considering abortion, one of the first things you should do after a positive pregnancy test is to have a viable pregnancy confirmed by a limited obstetrical ultrasound. There are three main reasons why.

1. An ultrasound will tell you how far along you are.

This is important because it will determine what kind of abortion procedure you would have. If you are less than ten weeks in your pregnancy, it would most likely be a medication abortion, also known as the abortion pill or RU-486.

If you are past ten weeks, it would be a surgical abortion. There are a few different procedures, all based on where you are in your pregnancy.

An ultrasound will likely be required if you schedule an abortion, but it is usually not offered until you are actually having the procedure.  At Open Arms, we offer them for free in advance of your decision so you have all the information needed in order to make an informed choice. If you're curious about how far along you are and want to know your options, schedule your free appointment today.

2. An ultrasound will tell you where the pregnancy is located.

Sometimes a pregnancy is located outside of the uterus, usually in the Fallopian tubes. This is called an ectopic pregnancy and is not viable. The fetus cannot survive and ectopic pregnancy can cause significant health issues for you, or even be life-threatening. About one in 50 pregnancies are ectopic (outside of the uterus).[i]

If you are experiencing abdominal pain, vaginal bleeding, dizziness, weakness, or fainting, you might have an ectopic pregnancy. If you think this might be the case, do not delay.  Go to the emergency room immediately.

3.  An ultrasound will detect fetal cardiac activity

An ultrasound can detect a fetal heartbeat usually around five weeks and five days from the first day of the last menstrual period. If during an ultrasound exam no fetal heartbeat is detected, the pregnancy may not be viable and may miscarry on its own.  According to the Mayo Clinic, "About 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. But the actual number is likely higher because many miscarriages occur so early in pregnancy that a woman doesn't realize she's pregnant."[ii]

An ultrasound exam is an important step in your pregnancy decision, confirming whether or not your pregnancy is a viable intrauterine pregnancy or not. Open Arms can help. Before having an abortion, make sure you know the answer to the three factors listed above. Schedule an appointment with us for your free ultrasound as a very important first step.

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How Much Does an Abortion in Northridge Cost?

Abortion costs can be hard to find online because every provider is a little different. How far along you are, whether or not your insurance covers abortion, and where you go for abortion are all factors that will affect the cost. But there are some common denominators we can look at to give you an idea of what you can expect to pay.

How far along are you?

Early termination

If you're in the first ten weeks of your pregnancy, an abortion will cost less than in the second trimester. In Southern California, a first-trimester abortion will generally cost between $300-$600. Often, the abortion procedure will be a medication abortion, which is a series of two pills that cause fetal demise and then cramping and contractions in order to pass the pregnancy.

Later termination

The farther along the pregnancy is, the more a termination will cost. This is because, after 10 weeks, the abortion procedure will be surgical instead of medication.

Surgical abortions up until 12 weeks in Southern California will cost around $650. After 12 weeks through 15 weeks, it goes up to around $800, and around $1,050 for abortions between 16 and 18 weeks. Between 18 and 19.6 weeks it climbs to $1,700, between 20-21.6 weeks it costs around $2,225, and at 22-24 weeks it costs around $3,275. After 24 weeks the fetus is considered viable (able to survive outside the womb) and abortions at that point are not available in the state of California.

What if you need more time?

The decision to have an abortion is a big one, so take the time necessary to be fully informed.  Many women choose abortion only because they feel pressured to do so, which is not a good reason.  Don't feel pressured to make a decision quickly.  There are so many opinions from friends, family, online, blogs, and in the news but it's important for YOU to make the decision since you are the one who will live with the outcome the rest of your life. 

What if you aren't sure?

If you are being pressured or just need a caring, safe, and confidential place to process all of your options, concerns, and questions, Open Arms is here for you.  We exist for that very reason.  

All of our services are completely free; we don't profit from your reproductive choices. Making an abortion decision deserves time and careful consideration. You owe it to yourself to seek out all your options and factors before making a decision. We're here to help.

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What To Expect During An Abortion

Getting an abortion can be a difficult decision for many people, and it's not one that anyone makes lightly. There are a lot of unknowns, and that can make the whole experience feel more overwhelming, especially if you can't find answers you're looking for prior to the procedure.

Today, we want to help you understand what you can expect during an abortion. The more you know beforehand, the better able you will be to make a truly informed decision. There are a few different abortion procedures, all of which we'll cover here.

1. Medication Abortions

Medication abortions are abortions you have by taking a series of two pills, mifepristone and misoprostol. These are prescribed by a doctor and are commonly referred to as "the abortion pill" even though you take two pills.  In California, a medication abortion can cost anywhere from $300 to $600, depending on whether or not you need labs, an ultrasound, or other types of testing.  

Mifepristone is the pill you take first, usually at the doctor's office. This pill blocks your body's progesterone, causing the pregnancy to stop growing (fetal demise).

Misoprostol is the second pill and can either be taken immediately after or up to 48 hours after taking the first pill. This will cause your cervix to expand so you can pass the pregnancy.

What to expect physically

Most women experience mild to heavy cramping and bleeding during and up to two weeks after the abortion. It's also common to feel nauseous and to vomit.

What to expect emotionally

Every person is different, and the emotions you feel are yours and are valid. Emotions are a gauge to let us know how we're doing, and every person's experience with abortion is different. Some feel relief, while others experience emotional pain. It's okay if you feel sadness, grief, or regret. Regardless of your emotional state, make sure you aren't walking this road in isolation. The Open Arms Pregnancy Clinic offers an after-abortion support group to provide a safe place to process whatever you're feeling so you aren't doing that alone.

Recovery afterward

The recovery time can vary between women, depending on how long the cramping, bleeding, and nausea all last. If your symptoms last longer than two weeks, you should consult your doctor. Let him or her know you had a medication abortion and exactly what your symptoms have been.

Does medication abortion ever fail?

According to the American Pregnancy Association, the abortion pill fails about 2%-8% of the time.  The later in a pregnancy, the more the failure rate increases.  If your medication abortion fails and you decide to proceed with a surgical termination, this would be paid for as a separate procedure. 

2. Surgical Abortions

Surgical abortions generally happen if the pregnancy is over 10 weeks, and there are different procedures based on how far along you are. For all, you'll be given pain medication to numb the cervix area. Surgical abortion in California can cost anywhere between $650 to $3295, depending on the type of abortion and other factors.

Aspiration abortion involves dilating the cervix with absorbent rods that may be put in a few days prior to the procedure. Once dilated enough, a long tube connected to a suction device will be inserted into the uterus to suction out the pregnancy.

Some common side effects to aspiration abortion are sweating, nausea, feeling faint, and cramping. Some women also experience bleeding, blood clots, damage to the cervix, and perforation of the uterus.

D&E abortion stands for dilation and evacuation. This procedure is performed after 16 weeks and involves dilating the cervix in a method similar to the aspiration abortion. A shot is sometimes given before the procedure begins to ensure fetal demise. A long tube will then be inserted into the uterus to pull out the pregnancy; forceps are sometimes also necessary to remove large parts. Then the lining of your uterus is scraped to ensure all has been removed. This procedure usually takes 15-30 minutes and an antibiotic will likely be prescribed to prevent infection.

Common side effects are cramping, bleeding, and nausea for up to two weeks. And although rarer, these side effects are sometimes experienced by women: a perforated uterus, damage to the lining of the uterus, damage to the cervix, blood clots, and infection. If your symptoms last longer than two weeks, you should contact your doctor immediately.

It's common to feel a mixture of emotions after your abortion procedure - relief, sadness, grief, and regret are all possible. Your body went through surgery so it's important to take the time necessary to heal. It can also be a good idea to seek counseling to help process the big emotions you feel, or if you aren't feeling anything at all.

The most important thing is to acknowledge to yourself the truth about how you're feeling. Anything you feel is legitimate and is worth exploring and seeking help if it feels too overwhelming to tackle yourself. Make sure you're getting enough rest and taking care of yourself in other ways as well.

If you need someone to talk to before or after your abortion, the caring and professional staff of the Open Arms Pregnancy Clinic is always available to sit and listen and help unpack how you're feeling. We can help you come up with the next action steps if that's helpful. We're here for you!

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Can I Buy the Abortion Pill Online?

If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy, you may be considering abortion. In a world that has gone completely digital, it may seem convenient and discrete to order the abortion pill online. However, purchasing the abortion pill online is never a good idea. 

While it may seem like a way to avoid others finding out, it is simply not safe. Read more about the dangers of purchasing the abortion pill online.

Abortion is a Medical Procedure

While taking a pill may not seem like something you need to do under the supervision of a doctor, the abortion pill is far different than an over-the-counter pill. It requires both instructions from a doctor before taking it and a follow-up appointment afterward. The abortion pill is still an abortion. It comes with risk and possible complications like any other medical procedure. You should not be attempting a medical procedure without a medical professional. 

You Have No Way of Knowing What is in the Pill

Any abortion pill that you find online comes with some degree of risk since you cannot be certain about what is in it. Online abortion pills sometimes come from another country with less strict safety regulations. There is also the possibility that the drug has too much or too little of a specific ingredient, which could lead to unexpected and harmful complications. Some of these side effects can potentially have negative impacts on your long-term health.

Additionally, when you are purchasing online, you don't know where this pill is coming from. You have no way of knowing if the pill will actually terminate the pregnancy. Even worse, there is a possibility that the pill you purchase could contain harmful ingredients that could cause you harm. 

The Abortion Pill is not Regulated by the FDA

The United States Food and Drug Administration has been seeking to stop unapproved online sellers of abortion pills. The FDA issued a warning letter to one particular provider demanding that they immediately cease sales of unapproved abortion drugs. Despite attempts from the FDA, providers online continue to sell unapproved abortion drugs to vulnerable women. We advise you to be aware of the providers who sell these potentially dangerous drugs. In fact, you should avoid them altogether since the risk of harm is too high – it is simply not worth the risk.

Discuss the Procedure with a Medical Professional

There is a lot that can happen when you take the abortion pill, so it's very important to be fully informed about the process. Not only Is it important to understand what is normal, it's also important to understand possible complications to look out for.

Depending on your medical history and how far along your pregnancy is, it could be ineffective or even dangerous to take the abortion pill.  At Open Arms, we offer ultrasounds at no cost to you. Ultrasounds allow you to find out how far along you are, if you're within the first ten weeks, and if your pregnancy is even viable. All of these factors need to be considered before making the decision to have an abortion.

You are Entitled to Quality Care

You deserve safe and effective care. At Open Arms, we offer quality pregnancy care at no cost to you. We provide free pregnancy testing as well as consultation through your unplanned pregnancy. You do not need to handle this all by yourself. Let medical professionals guide you and support you along the way. 

If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy, you might not know where to turn next. At Open Arms, we are here to support you. Whether you are in need of our pregnancy services or options consultation, all of our services are 100 percent free and confidential. Reach out today if you are in search of support for your unplanned pregnancy. 

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Early Signs of Pregnancy

If you have recently had unprotected sex or have reason to believe you may be pregnant, you might be panicking. We are here to tell you to take a deep breath. While we always recommend taking a pregnancy test to be sure, here are some of the common early signs of pregnancy to look for to give you a better idea if you are pregnant. 

1. Missed Period

This is the most widely known signs of pregnancy, but it can also be the most unreliable. A woman's cycle can be affected by many things. Things like stress, sickness, or even travel can cause a period to be late or even skipped. If your period is late, don't jump to conclusions. 

2. Nausea or Vomiting

You have probably heard of morning sickness, and that is because many women experience nausea and vomiting during the first trimester. This has to do with the changes in hormones in your body and usually subsides once your body adjusts to your new levels. 

3. Spotting and Cramping

Some women experience implantation bleeding six to 12 days after the egg is fertilized. It is common for women to mistake this for their period, so if you have reason to believe that you may be pregnant and you are experiencing other pregnancy symptoms, but you haven't missed a period, consider taking a pregnancy test to be sure. 

4. Mood Swings

Hormone shifts cause your mood to shift. Similar to how your mood changes throughout puberty and your menstrual cycle, mood swings are common in the early stages of pregnancy. If you are experiencing mood swings along with other signs of pregnancy, consider taking a pregnancy test. 

5. Fatigue

If you are excessively tired compared to your rest or activity level, it may be a sign you are pregnant. During the first trimester, many women report feeling extreme tiredness. If you are feeling more exhausted than you feel like you should, you may be pregnant. 

It is important to note that every woman experiences every pregnancy differently. In your pregnancy, you may have some, none, or all of these symptoms. 

If you think you might be pregnant, we offer free and confidential pregnancy testing to women in our community every day.

If you think you may be unexpectedly pregnant, make an appointment at Open Arms today! 


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One morning, I woke up feeling nauseous. I felt pregnant, but I was not sure if I should trust the two faint lines on the home pregnancy test that I took; I had a lot of medical questions.

The Morning After Pill and The Abortion Pill

What Every Woman Should Read   

"One morning, I woke up feeling nauseous. I felt pregnant, but I was not sure if I should trust the two faint lines on the home pregnancy test that I took; I had a lot of medical questions."

I took the morning after pill during the week that I had unprotected sex, so I thought I was safe. I felt pregnant, but I was not sure if I should trust the two faint lines on the home pregnancy test that I took. I sat in shock, alone in my bathroom, my thoughts racing all over the place.

"Did it still work even though I didn't take it the morning after?"

With a quick Google search I was able to find a great deal of information online, but that only led me to ask more questions that were more unique to what I was experiencing.

Of course, first I wanted to know if I was pregnant. I was concerned that the morning after pill did not work for me. How effective is it? Did I take it correctly?

"What is the difference between the morning after pill and the abortion pill?"

I really did not want to involve any friends or family at that moment, but I did find Open Arms Pregnancy Clinic and they made me feel safe and supported.

"The case manager and nurse were able to answer my questions. During my appointment, I was educated on pregnancy and so much more."

I learned how the morning after pill works depending on where I am at in my menstrual cycle. The morning after pill could not guarantee that I wouldn't get pregnant and I could experience possible short-term side effects when taking it. 

The morning-after pill and the abortion pill are different but neither pill prevents sexually transmitted diseases. I learned that the abortion pill does not work if a pregnancy is ectopic (meaning if the pregnancy is outside of the uterus) and what signs to look for in case I needed to seek emergency care.

They really took the time at Open Arms to listen and provide me with accurate pregnancy testing and same-day results. I felt so much better having someone to come alongside me and to gain an understanding of what was going on with my body, it was truly a freeing experience.

Open Arms Pregnancy Clinic can help you know if you are pregnant and, if so, consider your next step.  All services are confidential and provided at no cost. This can be an uncertain time in your life.  We get it.  The Open Arms Pregnancy Clinic specializes in helping women and men facing an unintended pregnancy. We have helped talk through questions and evaluate options with thousands of people just like you -- and we have a 99.3% satisfaction rating. We can help you, too.

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