May 6, 2009 — -- She has a healthy baby boy who has just learned to sit up, but Bristol Palin said she's using her fame to tell other teens to do what she didn't do -- abstain from sex.
"Regardless of what I did personally, I just think that abstinence is the only ... 100 percent foolproof way to prevent pregnancy," she told "Good Morning America" today, backing away from a previous statement on Fox News that abstinence wasn't realistic, saying it was taken out of context.
The spotlight has been on the 18-year-old since her pregnancy was announced a few days after her mother accepted the offer to become the GOP's vice presidential nominee. She's now using that spotlight to promote a national campaign to raise awareness for teen pregnancy prevention.
The daughter of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was appointed as a teen ambassador for the New York City-based Candie's Foundation because she believes she could be a living example of the consequences of teen pregnancy, which is foundation's mission.
"It's a hard choice, but it's the safest choice and it's the best choice," Palin said.
Neil Cole, founder of the Candie's Foundation, said the company, which manufactures shoes marketed to teens, wanted to use that relationship to help prevent teen pregnancy.
"Just because you're wearing high-heeled sexy shoes doesn't mean you should have a baby," he said.
Palin's is a poignant message on this National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.
"I don't see myself as a celebrity; I don't want to be one," she said. "But I think using this experience in my life to help others, I think it's a blessing."
Palin said telling her mother and father that she was pregnant was "harder than labor."
"I knew that it would be a huge shock and a huge surprise for my parents," she said, adding that their disappointment eventually turned into support. "I hope that me speaking out now will prevent girls from having to do that in the future."
Palin said son Tripp, born in December, is sitting up, rolling over and starting to giggle. "He's doing awesome," she said. "He's getting so big and so chubby."
But Palin said he life consists mainly of school, diapers, bottles and chores, all on a "few hours of sleep."
"It's a 24-hour job and that's a huge responsibility," she said. "Your priorities completely change once you have a baby."
But Palin said giving up the baby or terminating the pregnancy was never an option. "I knew from the second I found out I was pregnant I was going to keep the baby," she said.
Still, if she could do it all over again, Palin said she would wait to have sex. "My son is a blessing. He's the best thing that ever happened to me He's the love of my life but I do wish that years from now I could have had the same son."
Bristol Palin Wants Levi Johnston in Son's Life
The September 2008 revelation that the then 17-year-old high school senior was pregnant ignited a cultural debate about sexual education. The story not only received media play because her mother was the Republican vice presidential nominee, but also because of Sarah Palin's abstinence-only education leanings.
Studies show that 80 percent of pregnant teens don't marry the fathers of their babies, which includes Bristol Palin. Though she and then boyfriend Levi Johnston announced their engagement once the news of their pregnancy was revealed, the pair broke up shortly after the birth of their son.
The former couple's relationship has since been tenuous, at best, with 19-year-old Johnston being labeled as a deadbeat dad by Sarah Palin's father.
Johnston has said the Palins have limited his access to Tripp since the breakup, which he said was mutual. In the weeks following the split, Johnston said he needed to mature before becoming a husband but held out hope that he and Palin would reconcile.
Bristol Palin said she wants to maintain some kind of relationship with Johnston for the benefit of her son. "I'd love Levi to be a part of his life and I know he will be," she said. "Every child needs a father."
Palin said she didn't pay much attention to the intense media coverage that started when her mother was thrust into the national spotlight during the presidential campaign, including Tina Fey's Sarah Palin impersonation. "It's unreal," she said.
Palin is but one visible example of a nationwide trend. For the second year in a row, the country's teen birth rate has increased.
Three out of 10 girls in the United States will get pregnant and less than half of those women will earn their high school diploma, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.