The Challenges of Teen Pregnancy
All the issues that any pregnant woman must consider, such as nutrition, child care, finances, and support, are even more pressing for a teen pregnancy. In addition, many teens will face pressure to end the pregnancy, surrender the baby for adoption, or get married - choices not as commonly faced by pregnant adults. And while all pregnant women must decide how to fit a baby into the fabric of their lives, this becomes even more important for a teen who must still worry about finishing school. Teens also face the challenge of breaking the news to family, friends, and boyfriends, knowing that it is likely to be seen as unwelcome by all concerned.
Physically, teen pregnancy requires some special attention. Prenatal care and excellent nutrition are especially important for a teen who is still growing herself. Many teens will try to avoid gaining weight in hopes of hiding the pregnancy as long as possible, thus putting both themselves and their babies at risk. Prenatal care may also be difficult for teens, perhaps because they are denying the truth of the pregnancy or have no access to care. Yet it is vital that they receive care because teens face a greater risk of high blood pressure, anemia, miscarriage, and premature delivery. They must be taught to recognize the symptoms so they will know when there may be a problem.
Luckily there are a great number of resources available to help guide girls through their pregnancy. With about half a million teens giving birth each year, they are not alone. Nor does having a child make a teen a social outcast as it did in the past. Many schools have programs in place to help teens complete their studies, and some have child care available on site. Guidance counselors will know of programs and classes within the school and the community which are geared toward pregnant teens. The support of school personnel, the teen's parents, and the baby's father are all vital to easing the extra challenges of a teen pregnancy.
Six Questions Answered for a Pregnant Teen
It is not easy being a pregnant teen. If you are a pregnant teen, you may be curious about what to expect in the coming months and what options you have. When you have finished reading this article, you should feel a little more equipped to handle yourself during this time. Here are some answers to questions you may have as a pregnant teen.
Should I tell my parents?
Most women do not want to face a pregnancy alone. As a teen, you most likely need more of a support system as your body is still changing and will continue to change into adulthood. Whether or not your tell your parents about your pregnancy is really your decision, but you may want to think about where you will get that support if not from them. If you feel that you truly can not tell your parents yet, find another trusted adult who can help you in the meantime until you are ready to tell them.
Am I keeping this baby?
Once you find out you are pregnant, you need to decide whether or not you will continue the pregnancy and then whether or not you will keep the baby. Of course, you are ultimately the one who will decide, but it may benefit you to talk to your boyfriend/sexual partner. Some teens may want to maintain the pregnancy and keep the baby, others may choose adoption. Others decide immediately that they will not be able to handle a pregnancy and choose to terminate the pregnancy. No matter which decision you make, you need to be certain that you have given it immense thought and have explored all of your options.
I have heard about Planned Parenthood. How can they help me?
Planned Parenthood offers prenatal care or termination services for pregnant teens. As far as termination services, in most states if you are under 18 you must have parental consent from one or both parents. In some states, a judicial bypass is accepted. Planned Parenthood does not offer counseling services.
What about adoption?
If you decide to have the baby but come to the conclusion that you will not be able to care for it, you can choose to place the baby for adoption. There are many agencies that will help you decide the kind of adoption that is right for you. Again, you should think this through and discuss your options with a trusted adult. Read Considering Adoption.
How do I keep myself healthy during this pregnancy?
Most importantly, you must seek prenatal care. You may have been seeing a gynecologist already since you have been sexually active. Many women's care centers offer midwives instead of doctors. If this would make you more comfortable, that is an option as well. Just make sure that you have the appropriate care.
You also want to make sure you are eating nutritious food and that you are staying active. Light exercise and healthy eating throughout your pregnancy will help decrease many of the risks associated with teenage pregnancies. Read Pregnancy Health and Wellness.
What are some of the risks faced by pregnant teens?
Pregnant teens are less likely to gain the adequate weight, which leads to low birth weight in the baby. Premature birth is also a risk in teenage pregnancy. A pregnant teen is at more of a risk for other pregnancy complications such as anemia and high blood pressure, and these risks are even greater for teens under 15. In order to avoid many of these risks, you MUST make sure that you acquire adequate prenatal care.
Your next step?
Take the information you have just learned and share it with someone you trust. Hopefully, they will help you to make the right decision for you as a pregnant teen. Visit our Unplanned Pregnancy Options guide.
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