Shows like “Teen Mom” and “16 and Pregnant” show how difficult being a teen parent can be. The good news is that becoming a teen parent is 100% avoidable, and on Thanks, Birth Control Day, Maci Bookout knows why there’s a lot to be grateful for in the different kinds of protection we have available.
Not all teens are sexually active, and sex is a super-personal issue. But if and when you are active, birth control is a total must. Maci talks about birth control myths that sooo need to be buried, and her advice on talking to your parents about sex and protection.
ACT: Today is Thanks, Birth Control Day. Why are you thankful for birth control?
MACI: I am thankful for birth control because I was able to go to school and only have [my son] Bentley to worry about it. It’s been tough with him. … I can’t imagine doing it with two kids. I’m also thankful for birth control because it’s given me the freedom to focus all my time and attention on Bentley, since I’m a single mom.
I do sex education stuff all the time, speak at high schools and colleges about pregnancy prevention, and I think that it’s really given me a chance to speak on birth control and share the information I have on it. I think abstinence is great if that’s someone’s choice. If they can stick it out, that’s amazing. But, I do have a boyfriend and we’ve been in a relationship for over a year now, and we are sexually active, so since we’re not married and not in a place to have children right now, it’s nice I can count on birth control.
ACT: Since it can be hard to remember to take the pill each day, do you have any tips on how to stay on top of that?
MACI: You know, the first birth control I got on after I had Bentley was the pill, and I was the worst at remembering it. So I started taking the Depo shot, which you get every three months. That was helpful for me because I wasn’t good at taking the pill and I would just go in every three months.
After a while, I actually switched to the pill again. I set the alarm on my phone and I kept the birth control in my purse at all times, because I always have my purse with me. My birth control would be right there with me and I’d take it when the alarm went off.
ACT: Everyone dreads “the talk.” What advice do you have for young people who want to ask their parents about birth control?
MACI: If they feel uncomfortable talking to their parents, I think it’s a very scary conversation to have, but would they rather have a conversation telling their parents that they’re pregnant or their girlfriend is pregnant? That’s a much harder conversation to have than the birth control conversation. It’s much easier to take a pill every day or get the shot every few months than it is to raise a child when you’re not ready for it.
ACT: Luckily, you have supportive parents. What resources are available for those who might not have the same support system?
MACI: My number-one tip is find your local health department. Make an appointment and go there. You can get birth control and condoms for free. No one will know, and you don’t have to have your parents’ consent. You make an appointment and get it; it’s that easy.
If you don’t live right by a health department, I would say buy condoms until you have an opportunity to see a doctor and get a prescription. If you can make one appointment, you can get a prescription for up to a year. You go back to your checkup a year later and get more. If you want birth control that lasts longer, you can get the Mirena [IUD] that’s inserted in you. It lasts five years. You don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to change it until five years is up. If you might be married by then and want children, you can have it taken out. When five years is up, you can get another one put in. There are tons of options.
Photo: Macy and her moms! (Instagram)
ACT: When Bentley becomes a teen, what do you want him to know about sex that you didn’t?
MACI: I want him to be aware that at those times, I will be his parent and his friend. He can talk to me about the questions he has, and I want him to know that birth control is a primary thing he needs to be effectively using the right way if he’s sexually active. I want him to know all the options of what’s available and to do the right thing for himself and the relationship he’s in.
Photo: Bentley celerbates his 5th born day! (Instagram)
ACT: Teen pregnancy rates are down. What do you attribute that to?
MACI: I think there are a lot of things that are attributing to it. I hate to be biased, but teen pregnancy rates started dropping tremendously in 2009, after “16 and Pregnant” aired and “Teen Mom” has been on. I think a lot of it has to do with the show being on. Teen pregnancy always has been a huge issue in our country, but for the longest time it was an issue everyone hid from. If a girl got pregnant, she almost kind of disappeared. She left the school and moved on with her life and no one talked about it. I think our show has made people realize it’s an issue and we need to talk about it. We need to start thinking of what we’re going to do to fix it. It’s opening eyes and showing it’s OK to talk about it. These are conversations that need to be had with teens and their parents, teens and their peers. Schools are more open to talking about birth control.
ACT: What are some birth control myths you’ve heard? Can you clear them up for us?
MACI: Oh, Lord. I’ve heard that if you use two condoms, it works better than one. That’s not true at all. Two condoms would break easier. I’ve heard that if you are on your period, you can’t get pregnant. There’s a lot of negative talk about birth control, too, like it’s unhealthy and can hinder your ability to get pregnant later on. That’s also not true. I think ignorance and the lack of knowledge cause people to believe these things about birth control.
ACT: What are you up to these days? What can we see next from you?
MACI: Oh, man, I’ve got so many things going on. I’ve been hosting the after shows for “Teen Mom 2” and “Teen Mom 3.” As long as those continue, I’ll be hosting those on mtv.com. I’m in school still, and I’ll be graduating next year, so that’s really exciting. Bentley just turned 5, so he’s a little man now. He’ll be starting kindergarten next year, so I’ve got all kinds of things going on.
Thanks, Birth Control!
Today and everyday, give thanks to birth control. Learn birth control methods, find out where to get it and set reminders.
Find out what works and what doesn't for pregnancy prevention.