Dealing with Teenage Pregnancy
Discovering that your teenager is pregnant can be a scary and traumatic time for the both of you. Not only does the pregnancy change many aspects in a young person’s life, it also puts the life of the young mother and child at risk. When finding out that your daughter is pregnant, several emotions may go through you all at once. You may feel angry, disappointed, afraid, and even guilty for allowing the pregnancy to happen.
The important thing to realize is that teenagers who experience pregnancy at such an early age are both emotionally and physically vulnerable. While it’s equally unhealthy to deny the sudden surge of emotions that you may feel; it’s important that you work through them for the sake of your daughter and the coming baby.
Here are a few fast facts on teenage pregnancy statistics according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention):
- There were a total of 409,840 infants born to young women aged 15-19 years old in 2009.
- The live birthrate for young women aged 15-19 years old is 39.1 per 1,000.
- Teenage pregnancy is the highest contributor to high school dropout rates among young women. Over 50% of young women who got pregnant are unable to finish high school education.
- Teenage mothers are more likely to have health problems early in life.
- Children of teenage mothers are also more likely to have health problems early in life.
- Children of teenage mothers are more likely to also drop out from school.
- Children of teenage mothers are more likely to get in trouble with the law and get incarcerated during their teenage years.
- Teenage pregnancies cost U.S. taxpayers about $9 billion per year in health care, foster care, and more.
- The most number of teenage pregnancies come from adolescents that are socioeconomically disadvantaged, regardless of race or ethnicity.
- Black and Hispanic youth make up 60% of US teen births according to the latest data of 2009.
As you talk to your child, it’s important to realize that she has suddenly become a young person with a tremendous responsibility and important decisions to make. This isn’t the time to make decisions for her or to treat her like a child. Lay down the possible options and talk over each one of them, make sure that your child understands each so that she can make a responsible and informed choice.
- Abortion – The first thing that a person may think about when suddenly faced with the reality of an unwanted pregnancy is to get an abortion. A lot of girls go through abortion without really considering what the possible consequences could be. This leaves them with guilty feelings that they contend with for a long time. The truth that most teenage girls don’t know is that abortion has emotional and physical repercussions. Encourage your child to talk to a counselor to learn more about this option as well as other available options.
- Keeping the baby – If your daughter decides to keep the baby, talk about the status of her relationship with the father of the child and whether he plans to have any involvement in child rearing. Also be sure to discuss the finances involved in taking care of a child. Sit down and crunch the numbers and ask your child how she plans on supporting her baby.
As a parent you can provide help and support, but be aware that providing for and raising a child is part of the consequences of motherhood. Young women who are not made to face the consequences of their actions will be more likely to repeat their mistakes because they have not learned from it. Taking away the consequences of one’s actions does a lot of harm than good.
- Putting the baby up for adoption – Should your child decide to put up the baby for adoption, let her know what her options are. Inform her that she can pick the adoptive family and even arrange for visitations. It’s also important to know that different states have different laws regarding adoption. Talking to a counselor about adoption can help answer any questions you may have about it.
Most teen pregnancies are not planned and teens often feel terrified that it happened. Teenage boys need the encouragement and involvement of parents when they find out that they are about to become fathers. While some boys welcome the thought of being involved in the life of their future child, others may need more encouragement and guidance in order to be able to step up and face their responsibility. This is especially important due to the fact that fathers are legally responsible to support their children whether they want to or not.
Consider providing for the prenatal care of your teen as soon as you find out that she is having a baby. Without prenatal care, teenage girls are more likely to give birth to stillborn babies, suffer from labor complications, anemia, diabetes, elevated blood pressure, and more. Seeking medical help early increases the chances that your teenager will have a healthy pregnancy. It will also help your teen understand what she should and shouldn’t do while pregnant.
This is the time when your teen should learn what lifestyle changes she should make in order to assure the safety of her baby and herself.