Teenage Pregnancy and the Challenges of Being a Teen Mom
Teenage pregnancy, also known as adolescent pregnancy, refers to pregnancy in a woman aged between 10-19 years. Teenage pregnancies are a major global concern but mostly affect developing nations. Statistics show that 21 million girls aged between 15-19 years get pregnant every year. Among these, 12 million give birth. Approximately 10 million of these cases are unintended pregnancies. Among these cases, 777,000 births occur in girls below 15 years in developing countries.
Becoming a mother is one of the most significant changes that a woman experiences in her life. It comes with lots of sacrifices, challenges, and adjusting. However, there are additional consequences of becoming a mother in your teenage years.
Read through to understand the significant challenges of teenage pregnancies and ways to reduce risks associated with these pregnancies.
Signs and symptoms of teen pregnancy
Teenage girls experience similar signs and symptoms as adult women. However, the symptoms may vary from one girl to another. The first sign likely to show is missing the menstrual period. A pregnancy test can help confirm whether the girl is pregnant because many teenagers experience irregular periods.
Other common signs and symptoms include:
- Frequent urination due to the pressure exerted on the urinary bladder by the growing fetus and increased human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) hormone.
- Morning sickness is characterized by vomiting and nausea. It occurs any time of the day and not necessarily in the morning, as the name suggests.
- Swollen tender breasts due to hormonal changes.
- Light vaginal bleeding due to implantation of the fertilized egg into the uterine wall.
- Mood swings due to hormonal changes.
- Headache due to increased hormonal levels.
- Fatigue is due to an increase in the progesterone hormone.
Why teenage pregnancy is an issue
Teen pregnancy is an issue because many of these teenage pregnancies are unplanned and are often high-risk pregnancies accompanied by childbirth problems. Many of these girls are yet to mature fully to handle childbirth and childcare.
Most pregnant teens will not disclose their pregnancy until it is quite advanced and visible. Therefore they miss out on prenatal care and lack prenatal vitamins and minerals. As a result, babies that are born are likely to have health issues such as:
- Premature birth
- Developmental delay
- Risk of brain damage
- Feeding difficulties
- Low birth weight
- Congenital malformations
On the other hand, a pregnant teenage girl can experience health problems such as anemia, poor or excessive weight gain, eclampsia, and malnutrition.
Besides that, teenage pregnancy negatively impacts the teen’s physical and mental health; they easily get stressed by the many issues around them, such as lack of support from family, financial problems, or social issues from their peers. Due to the multiple stressors, they become vulnerable to developing depression, among other health problems.
Probable effects of teen pregnancy
- Unplanned pregnancies may be a massive burden for parents who may not have adequate resources and finances.
- An unplanned pregnancy can result in a reduced interest in seeking prenatal care, which can have severe health consequences on both the mother and the baby.
- Most teenage mothers drop out of school because they cannot balance education and childcare.
- Teenage mothers find childcare a stressful endeavor because they lack knowledge and experience in childcare.
How to reduce risks of teen pregnancy
It is your responsibility as a parent to take measures that help reduce incidences of pregnancy among teens.
Below are some tips on how parents can help their children avoid teen pregnancy.
Educating teenagers about their reproductive health is an excellent way of reducing the risk of teenage pregnancy. Talk with your child as often as possible on matters of sex. Ensure your child understands the various modes of pregnancy prevention and the consequences of engaging in unprotected sex and teenage pregnancy. Empowering your children with knowledge can remarkably lower unintended pregnancies in teenagers.
Develop a strong bond
Work on having a good relationship with your teen. Be well invested in their lives and take an interest in what they love doing. Doing so makes you connect better with your child. It also creates a safe space where your child feels more comfortable around you to talk about anything, including sex, incidences of unprotected sex, or sexual abuse.
Talk about dating
Talk with your child about the dos and don’ts of dating. Help your teen understand the importance of having solid principles and setting boundaries. Also, as a parent, you can set some dating rules but consider your child’s opinion. This enables you to have a common agreement.
If your teen gets pregnant, discuss possible options to terminate the pregnancy with your doctor. But if she wants to continue with the pregnancy, she should embrace the following measures to reduce health risks.
- Go for prenatal care to reduce possible health risks
- Eat healthily and keep hydrated
- Avoid the use of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco
- Take mineral supplements and prenatal vitamins
- Do exercises recommended by your doctor
Teenage pregnancy can create stressful situations for teens and families. Therefore, do not be shy to ask for help. You may seek emotional and financial assistance from support groups in your locality and medical advice from your doctor.