Teenage pregnancy is not usually a planned event. In fact, statistics state that 90% of teenage pregnancy cases are unplanned. Although efforts are constantly being made to increase sex education, teenage pregnancy is on the rise like never before.
What exactly would be considered a teenage pregnancy?
If you will still be a teenager when your baby is born, your pregnancy would be termed a teenage pregnancy. In other words, if you have still not reached the age of 20 by the time you have your baby, your pregnancy would be treated as a teenage pregnancy.
There are more instances of teenage pregnancy today than ever before. There are no fixed reasons for this. Some blame teenage pregnancy on the blatant exposure of sex in the media. Others blame the sexualisation of children in art, fashion, TV, books, and movies which cause a teenage girl to indulge in risky behaviour which leads to pregnancy.
What are the risks of teenage pregnancy?
Teenage pregnancy actually carries a lot of risks for both the teenage mother and the baby. Pregnancy during the teenage years is more worrisome and full of problems than pregnancy in women over 35. After all, a teenage mom is still a child herself and her body still has to deal with her own growth and developmental needs, let alone the trials of pregnancy. Pregnancy for a teenage girl can put great pressure on the body and bring with it its own set of problems which older women would not face.
- A teenage mother is susceptible to developing high blood pressure during pregnancy, thus becoming vulnerable to the complications that come with it like preeclampsia – a dangerous situation for both mother and child.
- The main risk of a teenage pregnancy is that the baby may be born prematurely or with a low birth weight. Both have been connected to developmental delays or problems and neurological damage in the baby.
- A pregnant teenage girl is likely to be terrified at the thought of her pregnancy and will thus not reveal her state to a parent or doctor anytime soon. This means that there is bound to be a lack of pre-natal care for the first few months of her teenage pregnancy, which could spell trouble for both mother and baby.
- Due to the lack of early pre-natal care, the teenage mother is likely to develop anaemia during her pregnancy and not put on an adequate amount of weight.
- Since a teenage mother is not quite equipped emotionally, physically or financially to handle a pregnancy, the problems arising out of her condition will extend beyond just the pregnancy itself. Most teenagers that get pregnant drop out of school or college. This not just stops their education but lowers their earning potential as well. What this translates into is a low socio-economic status lifelong which impacts the baby as well, if the teenage mother has chosen to keep it. The baby itself is likely to grow up in a tense environment that is not conducive to its well-being, and will probably not have a chance to get the education that he/she deserves.
But although there are several risks involved, a teenage mother has the potential to see the pregnancy through beautifully and have a healthy, happy baby.
What are your choices if you are a teenage girl who is pregnant?
- Pregnancy can be terrifying when you are just a teenager. To be stuck with a baby when you are so young can be daunting. You should take the time to sit down and decide what you want to do about your pregnancy.Adoption would involve giving your baby away to a couple or person who would be able to take care of it. There are hundreds and thousands of couples and single folks who want children but are unable to have their own for a variety of reasons. Their desire for a baby takes them to adoption agencies where they usually have to wait a few years at least to bring a baby home. You can interview the people who are interested in adopting your baby and give the baby to whoever you feel would be able to give your baby the best.
- You also have a couple of other choices when it comes to adoption. A closed adoption is where you give the baby to a deserving couple and never hear from them again. Open adoption is the opposite. You can choose to receive pictures and news about your baby as it grows, and perhaps even meet your child if you there is a mutual understanding and agreement with the adoptive parents. Most teenage pregnancy cases choose to go for a closed adoption as it is much easier to mentally cope with. Fifty percent of teenage girls who see the pregnancy through will opt for adoption.
- If you do not want to go through with the pregnancy, there are several methods of abortion available. Abortion is the wilful termination of an unwanted pregnancy. It does not take very long to perform the procedure and you can be in and out of the clinic within a couple of hours. But it can be very difficult to make this decision due to the social stigma attached to it. Not to mention that many women who have abortions experience deep guilt later on. So if this is the choice you are making, ensure that it is what you really want. It may help to see a counsellor, talk to a doctor, parents or close friends before coming to a decision.
- Your last option is bringing up the child yourself. If you have a strong support system at home and among your friends, if you have financial means of some sort, if you are mature enough to take responsibility for a child, and if you are truly joyful about welcoming a new baby into your life, then perhaps you could choose to keep your baby. Eventually the decision is yours. But make sure that it is not just the right one for you but for your baby too.