Going into a pregnancy is a really challenging time for women. It is even more challenging for a teenager or adolescent. Teenage pregnancy is a global phenomenon. Some countries have a higher rate than others. I believe most of us know what teenage pregnancy is, but for those who don’t, it is when a teenage child of approximately ages 13-16, becomes pregnant. It is said that most women reach full emotional maturity at ages 32, and physical maturity at 23. Now, a child of ages 13, 14, 15 is still undergoing physical, emotional and psychological changes. Imagine what strain a pregnancy puts on their developing bodies. Imagine the risks.
For one, the child may not increase in height, she may gain weight, her appearance will change, her attitude will also change. The pregnancy itself may be a danger to her and the unborn child. She may have complications with her blood pressure. Adolescent mothers face higher risks of low birth weight, preterm birth, and or stillbirth. Emotionally, the teenage mother will experience the rush of hormones, creating an imbalance in her system. Her stress levels will increase. All of that puts a strain on the teenager’s mental health. She finds herself alone, lost, not knowing what to do, or if she is doing the right thing. Many a time, this leads to abortion, suicide or alcohol abuse. She doesn’t have the support she needs. Apart from that, the sleepless nights, the crying baby, not knowing if he/she is hungry, or needs a diaper change, or is hurting. The desperation, the frustration, of not knowing what to do or if she is doing it right. Emotional damage. She hates herself, her body looks deformed, she has stretch marks, her stomach is flabby, or if she underwent a c-section, the scar. She is horrified. Again, emotional, mental, and physical trauma. Not to mention the excruciating pain of the contractions during a normal childbirth, mental trauma.
On the other hand, when it comes to school, she will have to drop out; her dreams and aspirations of the future will go down the drain, unless, of course, she has the support of both parents who will guide her through the pregnancy and afterwards take care of the child, then the mother can proceed with her schooling. However, if she does not have that support, then, too bad, she will have to forget about her dreams of becoming a journalist, or a doctor, or a lawyer. She will have to now fend for herself and her child. Find a job. Where? With what degree? She has none. It will be difficult. She will have to do a thing here, a thing there to get a few dollars to eat and to feed her child. Now, they both live in poverty. Lucky for her if she finds shelter for herself and her baby. She has to think about the future of her growing child. But how? How will she send him/her to school? She may join a religious institution which will give her a helping hand in putting the child in primary school, once she continuously attends the church. But what about college? How will she do it? Maybe by then she has a better job and gains a little more money to send him/her to college, but if not? The child does not continue schooling; she either gets pregnant or he gets someone pregnant. It becomes a non-ending pattern. This is a situation many teenage mothers are passing through.
April 16, 2023