Finding out that you're pregnant can be an overwhelming moment, especially when you're a teen. A pregnancy shifts your entire life. Not only is your body rapidly changing, but the large influx of hormones that occurs at the onset of pregnancy makes it a very emotional time for any mother.
Are you pregnant and worried about the effects of teenage pregnancy on your life? If so, first take a big breath. Next, remember that information is power. If you know what to expect, then you can find ways to handle the various hurdles in your path. These statistics surrounding pregnant teens can help you to prepare for possible issues. We also have some resources that can assist you in making informed decisions for you and your baby moving forward.
Emotional Effects of Pregnancy on Teenage Mothers
Every mother, no matter what their age, experiences emotional struggles during pregnancy. This is a big life change, but when you experience it during your teenage years, it brings bigger challenges.
If you discover that you've missed your period, it's common to experience confusion, fear, excitement, frustration, and even resentment. Pregnant teens not only have to figure out how they feel about being pregnant, but they also have to determine how they will tell their parents and what to tell the father of the baby.
There are so many choices to make early in pregnancy, and many young women may not be ready to face some of these tough decisions, bringing on feelings of anxiety and depression.
Teen Pregnancy and Depression
If you're a pregnant teen who is experiencing depression, know that you're not alone. A study published in The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing notes that symptoms of depression are two to four times higher in teen mothers when compared to their childless peers.
High levels of depression can greatly impact a mother's interaction with her future child and it can even affect the child's cognitive and emotional development. Unfortunately, pregnant teens experiencing a high level of stress rarely seek assistance for mental health concerns.
Some of the barriers to treatment include:
- Stigma of mental illness
- Lack of time due to the demands of parenting
- Lack of transportation
- Childcare issues
- Lack of insurance
- Fear of putting stress on others
If you're experiencing depression and don't have access to a medical professional, reach out to a school counselor or local church leader for guidance. Many times, talking out your problems can help you determine the next steps and learn about available resources, which can lessen your stress.
Social Effects of Teenage Pregnancy
As a pregnant teen, you may receive less support from your peers and the father of your child. You may also experience discrimination and shaming from those around you.
Support Might Be Limited
Maintaining friendships following pregnancy is hard on mothers of any age, but young mothers tend to receive significantly less social support than adult mothers. Not only that, but research shows that mothers under the age of 18 tend to overestimate their support networks when pregnant and are surprised at their reality after giving birth. This can lead to isolation, which can be challenging for both you and the baby.
Relationship With the Father Changes
Feelings of Discrimination
Pregnant teens may also suffer discrimination or judgment from schoolmates, teachers, and administrators. Pregnant teens often feel discrimination when looking for a job as well. If you are part of a religious group, you may feel unwanted or like an outcast at church.
There are laws under the Education Amendment of 1972 that make it mandatory for schools to allow you to receive an education and not exclude you from any activities related to your pregnancy. The same law also states you can go to your normal school if you choose.
Economic Effects Teenage Mothers Face
As a teen mom, you're at higher risk for living in poverty because parenthood can interfere with your ability to complete your education, and as a result, you may have to rely on public assistance to make ends meet.
High School Graduation Statistics
Young mothers are less likely to complete high school compared to women who bear children later on in life. Raising a child can take away from the time and energy required to attend class. Although some will go on to complete high school, only half of young mothers earn a diploma or a GED by the age of 22.
Poverty Levels Increase
Studies indicate that young mothers are three times more likely to live in poverty when compared to women in their thirties. In fact, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of teen mothers received some kind of public benefits within the first year after giving birth.
Child Support Can Be Lacking
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that "most teen mothers do not receive any monetary support from the child’s father." This is likely due to their low earning potential from a lack of education and prior work experience.
Related: Teen Pregnancy Statistics to Know
Physical Effects of Teenage Pregnancy
Women who get pregnant in their teens are also more likely to experience an array of health issues towards the end of their pregnancy and beyond. Some of these conditions include:
- Preterm delivery at less than 37 weeks of gestation
- Postpartum hemorrhage
- Low birth weight of the baby
Two of the most important things to do when you find out that you're pregnant are to start taking a daily prenatal vitamin and to get established with an obstetrician.
Resources for Pregnant Teens
As a pregnant teen, you may need someone to talk to who can be objective, understanding, and confidential. Several organizations provide free and confidential counseling by phone. There are also several resources online that provide useful pregnancy-related information and even places to stay if you find yourself without one.
- The American Pregnancy Association has a toll-free hotline for pregnant teens to call at 1-800-672-2296 as well as an online portal to talk to someone virtually. Just click the pink 'Chat Now' box at the bottom right side of their web page.
- Planned Parenthood can help you with your pregnancy concerns. Call their hotline at 1-800-230-7526.
- OptionLine can connect you with a local pregnancy center that provides many pregnancy-related services for free. You can also call the hotline at 1-800-712-4357 to speak with someone about your pregnancy concerns.
- Maternity Homes are organizations that can provide pregnant teens with a safe place to stay when they find themselves without one.
Teen pregnancy can be hard, but resources are available to help. Don't be afraid to reach out and ask questions.
Pregnant Teens Can Make Informed Decisions
As a young woman, you may have difficulty adjusting to your pregnancy. The emotional, social, economic, and physical changes that you will experience can impact your life and the course of your child's life, but the experts and resources available will help you to make informed decisions. You're not alone. Turn to resources that can help and talk to people you trust, and you can have a bright future.