Teen Pregnancy: The Facts
Teenage Pregnancy Stats
Although teen pregnancy rates have dropped significantly on account of increased contraception availability (free condom distribution) and earlier sex education, the facts remain: As many as one million teenaged girls become pregnant each year, with most of these pregnancies unplanned; moreover, about 25% of teenaged moms give birth to a second child within two years. What makes these teen pregnancy statistics alarming are the following facts regarding teenage pregnancies:
•- Pregnant teens are more likely to have pregnancy complications such as pregnancy-induced hypertension (high blood pressure), anemia, gestational diabetes, and more
•- Pregnant teens are more likely to go into premature labor or give birth to a stillborn baby
•- 70% of teenaged moms are single parents
•- More than 50% of teen moms are too young to apply for Medicaid
•- 87% of teenaged moms don't finish high school and/or go to college
•- Most teen moms cannot afford the costs of raising a child
- Most teenagers are not prepared to be parents
Counseling for Pregnant Teens
It's important that pregnant teenaged girls seek early prenatal care and medical attention to increase their chances of having a safe pregnancy and delivery. It's equally important that teen parents-to-be be thoroughly informed about their options and about the ramifications (advantages and disadvantages) of each of these options. If you are a pregnant teenager, look for guidance from a school counselor, a licensed social worker or psychologist who are legally required to keep your information confidential, or from your local Planned Parenting center. These professionals will explore and explain all of your options, direct you toward available resources, and help you make an informed decision about your situation.
Pregnant Teen Options
Here are the options for pregnant teens today:
•- Keep the baby
•- Put the Baby up for Adoption (Choose between open adoption, wherein the birth parents are allowed to receive letters/pictures from the adoptive parents, or closed adoption, wherein there is no contact with the adoptive family)
•- Abortion (during the second trimester)
Questions Pregnant Teens Should Ask
Before deciding whether or not to keep their baby, pregnant teens are urged to consider all angles of each of their options. Some of the many questions pregnant teens should ask themselves include:
•1) Is my boyfriend/father of the baby willing to be involved?
•2) What kind of support does the father-to-be need in order to embrace the responsibilities of fathering a child?
•3) What kind of support can my family realistically offer?
•4) What are the early signs of pregnancy I should be aware of?
•5) What medical and nutritional needs do I need to meet for my baby?
•6) What kind of financial support can I provide for my baby?
•7) Where can I apply for financial assistance?
•8) Am I eligible for Medicaid or some other assistance program?
•9) What educational opportunities are there to help me complete my high school education?
•10)What online training/educational courses are available so that I can work and earn my college degree at the same time?
•11)What exactly does the process of adoption entail?
•12)Am I ready to face the emotional repercussions of giving my baby up for adoption?
•13)What are the physical, emotional, and psychological effects of having an abortion?
•14)Am I ready to be a parent?
How Families Can Support a Pregnant Teenager
Although you might initially react with shock, disappointment, or anger when your pregnant teenaged son or daughter tells you they are pregnant, realize that most teenaged pregnancies are unplanned, that your teen is probably terrified and overwhelmed, and above all, that they need you and your support right now. Family and friends can play a big part in helping pregnant teens gain access to resources, get their questions answered, and in providing emotional, moral, and possibly financial support.
Here are some of the many ways parents and friends of pregnant young men and women can help:
•- Try to keep an open mind and remain nonjudgmental
•- Encourage pregnant teens to openly discuss their fears, concerns, and overwhelmed feelings of becoming a parent (by talking to them or getting them professional counseling)
•- Do not push the young couple to get married just because they are pregnant
•- Make sure the mother-to-be receives proper prenatal care ASAP
•- Talk to the teenaged parents-to-be about their options, about their plans for after the baby is born, providing them with sufficient information so that they can make an informed decision
•- Encourage pregnant teenaged girls to get educated about pregnancy, about the physical changes they should expect in their body, about the labor and delivery process, and about the impact having a baby will have on their life
•- Direct expecting teens to online websites and message boards where they can converse with other new and expectant moms, pregnant teens, and single parents about the process of expecting and raising a child
•- Find out about modern-day alternative educational programs designed to cater to the needs of pregnant teens and teen parents