Teen Parents: Knowing the Facts of Teen Parenting
While much is being done to reduce the rates of teen pregnancy in the U.S., there is still much remaining that can and should be done. The Office of Adolescent Health, a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for example, has set up a Pregnancy Assistance Fund to help provide teen parents with the education, health care, parenting skills, and other types of support they may need.
State and federal education initiatives are the obvious long-term answer to reducing teen pregnancies in the future, but those take time. In the meantime, there are still hundreds of thousands of at-risk babies born to teenage parents each year. For them, it’s too late for prevention. So let’s talk about successful childbearing, teen parenting, and some of its alternatives.
Meaningful Living in Spite of Teen Pregnancy: It’s not over until the pregnant lady sings.
When dealing with unplanned pregnancy, the overall health of the both baby and birth mother should remain the main focus for the full term. And while that must begin with basic physical health, it expands into many other spaces from there. Think of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Physiological needs, and personal safety are the foundations, but they just provide the platform to build toward the higher values of love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.
Believe it or not, it’s still possible for a young woman—even one of humble beginnings—to achieve those things for herself, even after an dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. It just requires planning, and focus. The cavalier attitude that most likely lead to the pregnancy in the first place, will no longer fit the bill; not that it ever did.
Prenatal care: making good health choices for yourself and your baby
For most women, especially young women or even teen parents, exercise during pregnancy is encouraged. Maintaining a regular exercise routine helps pregnant women maintain their overall wellness. And in most cases major adjustments to an existing exercise routine, like type, frequency, and duration, should not be necessary.
Women who were not in the habit of regular exercise prior to becoming pregnant can stave off common pregnancy problems like backaches, fatigue, and gestational diabetes by beginning the practice, after consulting their healthcare provider.
You’re not just eating for two, you’re thinking for two
Growing a new person draws massive amounts of calories and nutrients from your body’s reserves. Insufficient nutrition during a woman’s pregnancy may result in negative health effects like loss of bone density from calcium depletion, among others. The better you care for yourself during pregnancy, the better you increase the chances of delivering a healthy baby, and ensuring a speedy recovery for yourself.
A dietary regimen that consists of prenatal vitamins, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dairy products or other calcium-rich substitutes, protein sources like beans, peanut butter, and lean meats, plentiful water intake, limits on excess fats, caffeine and junk food, and abstinence from alcohol, tobacco and drugs is the cornerstone of a successful pregnancy.
Teen Mothers Need to Keep Education a Priority
It’s far too common for teenage girls who become pregnant to drop out of school to have their babies, never to return. Young women who fall victim to the guilt, shame, and family pressures that lead to these kinds of decisions, also fall victim to increased likelihood of poor health, and diminished employment opportunities in their future. Permanent departure from school eliminates opportunities to learn professional skills for employment, self-survival skills necessary for adult life, and ironically, parenting skills. It doesn’t have to be this way.
While it’s true that schools across the country are divided on how to address pregnancy among their students, the truth is most public schools receive federal assistance through one channel or another, and any education program that receives federal funding is bound by the 1972 Title IX law, which bans sex discrimination. And failing to accommodate pregnant students or students who are already parents, most likely constitutes sex discrimination. Hopefully though, invoking Title IX won’t be necessary.
Many states already have alternative high schools and/or well-established online programs for pregnant and parenting teens. The graduation rates in programs designed to support pregnant and parenting teens often rank close to normal rates for their state. Studies conducted in California programs of this type suggest that participants are less likely to rely on welfare down the road and also less likely to repeat the mistake of teen pregnancy.
Know the Options
According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, teenagers who become pregnant or father a child demonstrate a range of different emotional responses to their circumstances. Some my not want their babies at all. Others might see the creation of a child as an adult achievement without recognizing the gravity of the responsibilities. Some may feel pressured by family to keep the baby. Others may feel like having a baby to love is worth the sacrifice without realizing the amount of care a baby requires. Depression is common among pregnant teens. So is guilt, anxiety, and fear about the future. Pregnant teens face a host of stressors. In many cases adding the stress of deciding whether to carry the pregnancy to term, keep the baby, terminate the pregnancy, or seek viable abortion alternatives such as giving the baby up for adoption might prove to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Successful teen pregnancy is possible, but it’s no cakewalk. Becoming a teen parent can become challenging if there isn’t a supportive family who is on board with the idea of ensuring the long term success and happiness of them and their baby. They may live in a state or county where alternative schooling options simply don’t exist. And they may come from poor families who can’t afford healthier dietary choices. Their families may lack the resources to address alterations to daily routines with respect to work and school schedules. Or, their families may carry beliefs that prevent them from responding to the situation in mature, rational ways. Most pregnant teens find themselves dealing with a combination of these factors.
Pregnant teens and their families deserve to be counseled and informed about the options available to them, including newborn adoption. To learn more about whether or not the circumstances of your pregnancy might make you consider adoption as an alternative to teen parenting, please contact us at our toll-free number, 877-74-ANGEL