The gift of life is exciting, promising, and wonderful, but for women who are too young, the experience of pregnancy can be a terrifying one. Teenage women who are pregnant have special needs both emotionally and socially. In order to succeed, they need the support of a whole community. Learn more about how you can avoid pregnancy and what to do if you are a young woman who is pregnant.
Teen Pregnancy Statistics
In the U.S., more than 600,000 teenagers become pregnant every year. Worldwide, approximately 17 million girls younger than 19 give birth. Compared to other first-world countries, the incidence of teen pregnancy in the U.S. is very high; America's teen pregnancy rate is almost three times that of Germany and France. Unfortunately, in the U.S., teenage mothers are more likely to drop out of high school, to become poor as adults, and to have children with poorer educational outcomes than those of older parents. Fewer than two percent of teen mothers finish college by age 30.
How to Avoid Teen Pregnancy
Despite laws and restrictions regarding sex education in many states, young women have many safe online resources for learning about sex. Naturally, as is taught in many classes, abstinence from sex until after high school is the most effective option. However, young women can and should also be taught about contraceptives, such as the pill, condoms, and other options. There's no way around it: Avoiding pregnancy as a teenager means either not engaging in sex or practicing safe sex. In certain situations, that requires standing up and simply saying "no" to a pushy boyfriend. It might seem tempting at first to engage in sex because characters in movies and television shows so often seem to get away with it without consequences, but those depictions are unrealistic.
The Symptoms of Pregnancy
Common symptoms of pregnancy include a missed period, tender or swollen breasts, nausea (and sometimes vomiting), overall fatigue, and food aversions or cravings. If you have any of these symptoms, that doesn't necessarily mean that you're pregnant. For instance, periods can come late occasionally for hormonal reasons. To be sure, you can purchase and use an at-home pregnancy test. If it is positive, you'll want to follow up with a blood test taken by a doctor (which is the best way to know for certain).
What to Do if You're Pregnant as a Teen
There are several options for what to do once you know that you've become pregnant: to keep the baby, to terminate the pregnancy, or to give the baby up for adoption. Each choice has long-term consequences and should be considered carefully. The decision will depend on several factors, including the level of support from parents, the father of the baby, and other family and friends. Also, several call centers and support groups can be contacted to help you through this troubling time.
Adoption and Parenting Resources
Teenage moms who are lucky enough to have access to needed resources like social, emotional, and financial support may consider moving forward with the pregnancy, either to keep the baby or give it up for adoption. Either way, care needs to be taken during the pregnancy to ensure both the mother's and the baby's health. Frequent doctor appointments and medical visits will be required, as well as changes in eating, smoking, drinking, and exercising habits. For teen moms who want to keep the baby and enjoy the gift of life, the months after birth may be difficult. Young mothers should maintain open avenues for communication with their family, schools, friends, and peers in order to grow their new relationship with their son or daughter into a successful family unit.