Fear, confusion, regrets, and uncertainty, are all hallmarks of a teenage pregnancy. Let’s face it – unlike planned pregnancies, teenage pregnancy elicit the opposite reaction. Instead of excitement and jubilations on conceiving, what we see is a panicked little girl confused about everything.
You find yourself thrust into a whole new world, a world you have no clue about, a world laden with responsibilities. It’s a terrifying moment. It is hard enough being a teenager, finding direction, and finding your purpose. You find yourself between a rock and hard place. You are too young to be pregnant, no job, no finances, no career, and a society that is no doubt quite judgmental towards teenagers like you that get pregnant.
You constantly worry what your parents will say, how your teenage pregnancy will be like, whether you will get the moral and financial support, what will happen to your life moving forward and what not. I mean, it’s okay to be concerned about all these things. After all, you’ve suddenly found yourself in the deep end of the pool.
That said, it won’t be easy. You will have to make serious decisions whose consequences you will have to live with for the rest of your life.
Should You Keep Or Terminate The Pregnancy?
It has probably crossed your mind, right? “I can’t keep it!” That is what you probably blurted out on finding out about your pregnancy. You’re angry at yourself, confused, and wished that it were a lie. Unfortunately, it’s no lie. You’ve conceived – accidentally of course. Never in your wildest imaginations would you have wanted a pregnancy at 14, 15, 16 or even 17 years of age.
To keep or not to keep your pregnancy as a teenager is up to you. It’s a moral question, yes. You are yet to find your bearing, you feel alone, dejected, and probably hate yourself. However, you are carrying life in your tummy and its survival is solely dependent on you. What if you terminate it and you never get to be pregnant again? What if you terminate it and you don’t survive? What if?
There are probably so many things that could go wrong. Don’t go through all these alone. You need a support system. I understand that probably your parents are gutted, your peers have shunned you, and the society is giving you the middle finger. You need to talk to someone. There are probably mature women in your community who went through teenage pregnancy as well.
Reach out to them. Talk to them and get to understand how they pulled through. What life changing decisions did they have to make. What would they advise you at this very moment? Face your problem head on. Now that you are pregnant, you need to stand up for yourself. Yes, you messed up. There is nothing you can do about it now. What options do you have?
Basically, you have 3 options at your disposal. For one, you might decide that you are too young to be a mother, have no means of providing for the child when it’s born, or it’s just too risky to carry the pregnancy to term. In that case, termination would be the most ideal thing to do. The second option and which is most recommended is to keep the pregnancy.
Of course, you need the full and unconditional support of your parents. The third and last option is to give up the baby for adoption once it’s born. It’s all about ensuring the best life for your kid especially if your parents are not supportive. Whatever you decide, just remember that it’s not the end of the road.
Teenage Pregnancy Symptoms
Of course, a missed period is all it takes to make you fret, sweat, and worry on end that you could be pregnant especially if you’ve been engaging in unprotected sex. I mean, missing at least one menstrual period has been the classic sign of pregnancy from time immemorial. That said, other common teenage pregnancy symptoms include:
- Nausea/morning sickness
- Unusual mood swings
- Sore breasts
- Food cravings
- Frequent urination
- Mild headaches
- Weight gain
I understand that as a teenager, you have reservations about going to a hospital for a pregnancy test. If you have a strong feeling that you are pregnant, you can use a home pregnancy test kit to confirm your worst suspicions. These kits can easily be bought over the counter in drug stores.
The Risks and Challenges of Teenage Pregnancy
If adult women experience a number of pregnancy risks, you can imagine how difficult it can be to a teenager. The fact of the matter is, a teenager is susceptible to more risks while pregnant compared to an adult. Curious to know the risks we are talking about? Read on.
Inability to Get Adequate Prenatal Care
It is not uncommon for some parents to shun their children and even chase them away from home when they get pregnant. A teenage pregnant girl with no parental support will definitely find it difficult getting access to prenatal care. Prenatal care is of essence in monitoring the pregnancy, identifying any risks and complications early, keeping track of the baby’s growth and development, and nipping in the bud any life threatening risks such as neural tube defects.
A teenager has the risk of getting inadequate prenatal care without the financial support of their parents or guardians. This means no access to proper medical care, no ultrasound, no advice on how to take care of the pregnancy, no remedy for certain medical complications and ultimately, high risk of miscarriage.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
Sexual education is of essence and the need to practice safe during pregnancy cannot be stressed enough. For most teenagers who engage in unprotected sex while pregnant, the risks of contracting sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV, syphilis, and chlamydia is very high. Some resort to reckless sexual behavior as a way of dealing with their stress oblivious of the fact that they are putting their health as well as that of the unborn baby at risk.
Low Birth Weight Baby
Pregnant teens are at a high risk of delivering babies with low birth weight compared to mature pregnant women. By low birth weight we mean delivery of babies that weigh less than 5.5 lbs. An underweight baby is highly susceptible to certain lung, brain, and heart complications. While some babies born underweight end up leading healthy lifestyles, not all do and it is one of the most serious risks of teenage pregnancies.
High Blood Pressure
Compared to expectant women in their 20s or 30s, it has been found that pregnant teens are at a high risk of high blood pressure (also known as pregnancy induced hypertension). High blood pressure is very dangerous during pregnancy if it’s not contained. If high blood pressure is not contained, one’s pregnancy is bound to end in a miscarriage and in serious cases, loss of life of the mother. It may also lead to premature birth which once again stresses the importance of early prenatal care.
Anemia is caused by deficiency of iron in the body. It can also be caused by folic acid and vitamin B12 deficiency in the body. Common signs of anemia include:
- Feeling tired most of the time
- Difficulty breathing
- Lapse in concentration
- Rapid heartbeat
- Pale skin, nails, and lips
What are the risks of anemia during pregnancy? The most common risk is premature birth and low birth weight. There is also the risk of the baby being born with anemia.
It’s not uncommon for women to experience bouts of depression during pregnancy. If a woman who planned to get pregnant can have bouts of depression, a teenager with an unplanned pregnancy will no doubt have it rough. Depression related to being shunned and being judged by society can be easily alleviated through love and moral support.
However, severe depression poses a great risk to a teenage pregnancy. Most teens grappling with severe depression toy with suicidal thoughts and self-harm. They feel neglected and more often than not, resort to suicide as a way of addressing their emotional pain.
What Are Your Responsibilities As A Parent To Your Pregnant Teen?
As a parent, you were probably disappointed by the news that your teenage daughter is pregnant. You felt let down and at some point even questioned your parental skills. As disappointed as you are, this is not the time to shun or neglect your daughter. This is the time to be there for your daughter. Here are some of your responsibilities towards your pregnant teen.
Give Her Unequivocal Support
Your teen probably feels alone and neglected. This is the time she needs you the most. Your number one responsibility is to give your teen unconditional support. I understand that you are disappointed but there is nothing you can do to reverse the situation. Your teenage daughter is probably going through ridicule from peers and the ever judgmental society. You owe it to her to stand by her through thick and thin.
Tell her getting pregnant in her teens is not the end of the world, that everything will be alright, and that as her parent, you are standing with her to the very end. Make her your best friend, have a sit down with her and try to alleviate any fears or concerns she might be having. It is important that at this confusing moment, you give her assurance and unequivocal support.
Take Her for a Prenatal Visit As Soon As Possible
Your daughter is probably too young to understand the importance of prenatal care or even have the finances to afford it. Once her pregnancy is confirmed, it is important that you book a prenatal visit as soon as possible. A prenatal visit is essential as it gives you an opportunity to get to know your daughters health, whether there are signs of health complications, and get to learn a few things on how to take care of your daughter’s teenage pregnancy during the whole pregnancy period.
Explain to Her the Dangers of Abusing Drugs, Smoking, or Drinking Alcohol
Teenagers have strange ways of dealing with stress. Ok, not teenagers alone, adults too. Probably her friends will advise her to drink her sorrows away or abuse hard drugs. Your core responsibility as a parent is to explain in detail to your pregnant teen the dangers of drinking alcohol and abusing drugs while pregnant. In fact, it is your responsibility to ensure that she stays away from harmful substances. After all, you want a healthy grandchild. Don’t you?
The Final Take
You are not alone. Many other girls like you got pregnant and pulled through. After the initial shock, it is time to decide what you really want to do with your life. If you have supportive parents, the whole journey will be easy. This is not the end. Have a plan of what you want to do after giving birth. Make plans to continue to with your education, go for that dream career, rise above the current situation and prove to those who’ve written you off that you are on the steering wheel of your life! Don’t allow a teenage pregnancy to change the course of your life forever!