According to the World Health Organization (WHO), every year an estimated 21 million teenage girls, aging 15-19, and 2 million girls under the age of 15 become pregnant in developing regions. The numbers may be alarming, but the effects are more impacting as these teenage girls lack the skills and knowledge of motherhood.
However, the call to address the issue does not solely focus on prevention but as well as to provide teenage moms ways on how to cope with the challenges that teenage pregnancy entails.
Below are three major issues faced by teenage mothers and the suggested action steps:
The number of teenage pregnancy is not the only alarming fact to note. Complications during pregnancy and childbirth like anemia, toxemia, high blood pressure, placenta previa and premature birth are the leading cause of death for 15-19 year-old girls, globally. This is due to lack of medical care as often teens would get frightened to confess their situation to their parents and tend to keep the pregnancy to themselves.
- Most of the time, these teens would not admit that they are pregnant until the baby bump becomes too prominent (2nd or 3rd trimester). If this happens, have your teenage child undergo prenatal care, get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STI), eat a healthy diet, stay physically active, gain weight wisely, avoid risky substances and take childbirth classes.
Teen moms suffer from emotional crisis. Questions such as “how will I tell my parents and how would they react if they knew about my situation”,” will my boyfriend still keep our relationship”, “how will I be able to provide for my baby, “can I still go back to school” are just a few that cause them to worry and get distressed which may lead to substance abuse or aborting the baby. Substance abuse is one of the many factors noted that what causes cerebral palsy.
- Pregnant teens must seize the emotions of anger, sadness and disappointment in order to cope with their pregnancy. However, they may not be able to do this by themselves, so parents especially mothers, play a big role in the process. Help her manage her time among family/mother duties, exercise, relaxation, hobbies and friends, impart knowledge on the upcoming physical changes and how to cope with those. By keeping your teenage child busy with a lot of actions steps to take, she’ll be able to let go and move forward positively.
In some countries, education is perceived as a standard of success and socio-economic status. When teenage girls become pregnant, one of the first issues raised is delayed education. Teenage moms mostly put their education on hold and decide to focus on caring for the baby, or get a job to support the baby’s needs.
- Education may be put on hold for a semester or two but not for long. Teenage moms may take online courses from renowned business schools without the hassle of leaving the baby at home while earning the degree at their desired schedule. This can earn you a career in different sectors like banks, private companies, non-profit and government and even build your own business, physical or online.
Teenage pregnancy should not hinder them from pursuing your dreams — being a responsible parent and fulfilled career woman. They may have committed mistakes in the past but there will always be room to correct them and become a better individual.