The question I am researching is “Is teenage pregnancy a problem?” The aim of this project is to research the positives and the negatives of teenage pregnancy, the health risks during pregnancy, how teenage pregnancy has changed over time, and how it differs with different social classes. I am doing my project on this specific topic as I am interested in going into midwifery or nursing as a career in the future. This specific question is useful as teenage pregnancy has changed over time and the views on it have changed. The sources of information I will use in my research include my primary research and secondary research.
Physical and mental health:
Teenage pregnancy can cause many health risks, they are more at risk of having high blood pressure. This can cause serious damage to the arteries, in the future if the blood pressure is not controlled it may lead to heart disease, kidney disease, or stroke. This is called pregnancy-induced hypertension; pregnant teenagers are more likely to get this than women in their 20s or 30s. Teenagers that take medication to control this may disrupt the unborn child’s growth and may lead to premature birth. As the babies are likely to be born prematurely they had less time to grow in the womb, therefore they will be low-weight babies, a low-birth-weight baby weighs only 3.3 to 5.5 pounds. If a baby is born this small it would need to stay in the hospital on a ventilator and have support with breathing. It is likely for teenage mums to face many mental health conditions related to being a new mum and childbirth, one of these conditions which are ones that affect teenage mums at most is called “baby blues”, teenage mums usually experience this within the first 2 weeks after giving birth. The symptoms of this condition include sadness, difficulty concentrating, trouble eating, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, and mood swings. Baby blues are caused by hormonal changes in the body after giving birth. As teenage mums are less likely to know how to care for their newborn babies as they are most likely a child themselves, they are likely to be exhausted and not get enough sleep at night. “Baby blues” should usually lift within the next few days without seeing a doctor, however, if the mother continues to feel depressed a month or so after this may be postnatal depression (PND). This is a common problem and is affecting more than 1 in every 10 women within a year of giving birth. Postnatal depression causes a persistent feeling of sadness and a low mood, lack of energy and tiredness all of the time, withdrawal from contact with other people, difficulty bonding with their baby, and frightening thoughts such as hurting the baby. Postnatal depression can be treated with psychological therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help the mother deal with overwhelming problems in a more positive way. Antidepressants may be recommended if the depression is more severe and other treatments haven’t helped, doctors can prescribe medicines that are safe to take whilst breastfeeding. Teenage mums are less likely to deal with these problems the correct way as this may be too overwhelming and stressful for them, this may cause a serious problem as the mother may not care for her new-born and it may lead to neglect, as the mother can’t physically cope on their own. The younger you are having children the more at risk you are of having postnatal depression. A study performed by Stacy Hodgkinson, Lee Beers, Cathy Southammakosane, and Amy Lewin addressing the mental health of pregnant and parenting adolescents carried out in January 2014, showed that teen mothers face significant levels of stress that can then lead to increased mental health concerns, teenage mothers have higher rates of depression, they also have higher rates of suicidal ideation than their peers who aren’t mothers, this may be because teen mums are more likely to have gone through mental or physical abuse. This clearly shows that teenage pregnancy is a problem in today’s society as young girls are becoming pregnant and then going through stress which can lead to serious complications with the mother and may even lead to suicide, teenage mothers are not capable of being mothers and having their own child to look after than they would be if they are in their 20s, as studies show that mothers that are in their 20s show less depression and mental health problems.[footnoteRef:1] [1: ]
Teenage pregnancy and poverty
Most teenage mothers that live in poverty are pregnant as it seems they are choosing to become young mothers at a very early age. For most teenagers that live in poverty, their households treat teen pregnancies as a cultural norm. Most of the time teenagers that get pregnant, and their mothers have most likely been teenage mothers too. If some teenagers think that their chance of academically succeeding and being economically successful is low, then they believe that they need to do everything in the ‘right way, and embrace the idea of becoming a teen mum and getting pregnant at an early age. The reason behind teenagers choosing to become pregnant is just basic satisfaction, as the feeling of being a parent at first is gratifying. Teenagers only think about having this pregnancy at a very early age and becoming a teenage parent as being gratifying, despite them being then in financial problems, not finishing their education, and having a low chance of employment opportunities as they have to look after their new born. 2 out of every 3 teenage women who move out of their parent’s home currently live below the poverty level, this is because they had moved out to look after their new-born, potentially with a partner, and then have not graduated from school and haven’t got their education, unable to get employment. This clearly shows that there is a problem with teenage pregnancy, as teenagers are getting pregnant for satisfaction and because it seems gratifying, however, they don’t look at the external factors and what problems this causes them, the proof of this is shown as 89% of women who do not have a child as a teen will graduate from high school and will academically achieve and be successful. However, only just 38% of teenage girls who have a child before the age of 18 will get a high school diploma by the age of 22. Less than 25% of teenage mothers receive any child support payments, which is the reason why more than 60% of teenage mothers are receiving some sort of public benefit before their child’s first birthday. This shows that teenage pregnancy is clearly a problem as many teenagers are leaving home because of becoming teenage mothers and then live in poverty causing problems with benefits and the government, also the teenagers would not be living at their best quality of life, which could lead to mental illness as previously described. https://www.gingerbread.org.uk/policy-campaigns/publications-index/statistics/
47 percent of children in single-parent families live in relative poverty, relative poverty is when you only have enough money for needed resources such as rent and food but have no money for any other resources for their home. Out of that percentage 2 percent of them single parents are teenagers. This just shows the massive impact teenagers and our parents have on society. It most likely happens that teenagers that get pregnant will not stay with their partner or the father of the baby, making the teenage mum a single parent, she will need extra support for services, and is possible to go through mental health problems.
Teenage pregnancy is an opportunity.
This newspaper article here from 2010 shows the positives of teenage pregnancies. Dr. Claire Alexander, a lecturer at the London School of Economics, and one of the editors of the study said that “Stereotypes of such young women as poor and ignorant, dysfunctional and immoral, engaging in casual sex and churning out babies who they cannot care for adequately and do not care about in order to gain access to welfare benefits and council housing, often underlie concerns about teenage pregnancy and parenting. However, these stereotypes are not borne out by the research evidence – in fact, quite the contrary.’ As this is the stereotype most people in society would have about teenagers, the study shows that teenage pregnancies challenge teenagers, arguing that many mothers are motivated to turn their lives around to provide for their children, an example of this may be a teenage mum changing their lives by not being involved with drugs or alcohol anymore.
Risk factors associated with young women experiencing pregnancy before 18 and preventions.
Politicians have said that society focuses on attacking teenage pregnancy, rather than tackling the social and economic disadvantages that usually cause teenage pregnancies. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/teenage-pregnancy-prevention-framework The risk factors associated with young women getting pregnant before 18 is being eligible to free school meals, this indicates that the teenager is living in poverty, and in their households mostly teenage pregnancy is a cultural norm. If their school absence is persistent by year 9 (aged 14) meaning they would be slower than expected in academic progress between the ages of 11-14. This is due to their persistent school absence. If they have had sex for the first time before the age of 16, this is a big risk as people that have sex under 16 are not mentally aware of what having sex can do, they do not know what the consequences are, and only do it for the satisfaction and pleasure. If they are involved with alcohol and drugs, this is because there is more of a chance for them to have one-night stands and regret most of the times they have had sex, as there were not mentally aware because of the intake of drugs and alcohol. As they are drinking alcohol they are less aware of what they are doing and will most likely not use any contraception, this risks the teenager getting pregnant and catching STIs, or if they have experienced a previous pregnancy, as 12% of births to under the 20s are too young women who are already mothers. Preventing teenage pregnancy also assures that teenagers are having good emotional health and well-being, focusing on the problems a teenager may be going through and not them worrying about pregnancy at that age, as it would be too stressful and cause mental health problems. By preventing teenage pregnancies there will be fewer teenagers integrating with chlamydia screenings or any STI tests, as fewer young people will be having sex and we will be wearier whilst having sex therefore make sure they are protected during sex and this also makes sure they are not getting pregnant. Preventing pregnancies will get make society then focus on giving every child the best start in life. Furthermore helping to prevent teenage pregnancies helps health services also address young people’s alcohol and substance misuse, which is the reason teenagers are getting pregnant and becoming young parents because they are not thinking about the consequences of having sex.
Preventing teenage pregnancy is very important as it impacts the NHS and public health, the NHS outcomes show that there is a 24% higher rate of children born to women under 20 for stillbirth. A 30% higher rate for low birth weight babies due to teenage pregnancy. The NHS shows that mothers under 20 are 3 times more likely to smoke throughout pregnancy. Mothers under 20 have higher rates of poor mental health for up to 3 years after birth. All of these outcomes are due to teenage pregnancies, they are increasing the rates as they are not physically capable to carry a child as they have not fully developed to carry a baby, this leads to many complications with the mother or the unborn baby, causing the NHS to try to get more funding to help these pregnant teenagers.
Positives of teenage pregnancy.
The younger a person is the healthier they are. With teenagers getting pregnant and becoming young mothers, there is a lower risk of the child developing a condition for example Down syndrome. You are at your healthiest as a teenager during your lifetime, therefore they may be fewer complications with the mother or the baby overall.
The NHS website, clearly directs that women should have a baby before 35 years old. It is said that a woman over 35 years old has a higher risk of miscarriage. There are many health risks of late pregnancy. To start with there is a greater difficulty in actually conceiving a child, with the personal and psychological difficulties that this can cause. Therefore if initially conceiving is difficult, it is best to get pregnant at an early age, just so that they don’t miss out on motherhood as when they try to conceive for their first baby it may be too late. In late pregnancy, there is an increased risk of complications for both the mother and the baby during pregnancy and delivery, even though the actual size of the risk may be small. Women at a later age may face these complications as they do not have as much strength to go through childbirth as well as a younger person as they are physically healthier. There would also be an increased chance of having a baby with a congenital abnormality, such as Down’s syndrome. Therefore getting pregnant at the ages between 13-19 years of age and becoming a teenage parent may result in the best outcome for the pregnancy and childbirth, as they are at their healthiest and strongest to go through childbirth and would result in having a baby without any complications.
Teenage girls would be able to expect the pleasure of sex early in their life, most girls consider it to be their birthright to have sex with the partners of their choice. Teenagers have the responsibility of rearing a child and taking care of a baby making sure it develops and grows correctly and having a family at a considerably very young age, this may seem like a negative however this makes them competent and productive at the early age, it makes teenagers look into their future prospects, it changes the way they think and can make them change for the right ways, for example, because of becoming pregnant they will quit habits such as smoking, drinking alcohol or drugs. Teenagers becoming parents gives them a good feeling of becoming a parent and they then know they have a purpose and a priority in their lives, therefore they will not be wasting their time on things they shouldn’t be getting up to but using their time wisely and productively, caring for their baby. Furthermore, this makes the jobless women search for a livelihood in order to support themselves and their babies, this will bring a positive attitude to the teenage mothers, knowing they can provide for their babies themselves.
Some teenagers get pregnant as they have experienced abuse, neglect, or loneliness in their lifetime, becoming a teenage mother may be the right solution to get their self-worth back and create a strong bond with their baby, knowing she will be able to care for it correctly and well. Becoming a teenage mother is also a positive as they will have more of the ability to relate to their baby in a better way. As it seems, the overall strife between the parents and the children occurs as a result of the generation gap between them, becoming a young mother would eradicate the problems as they can relate to their child better in an easy way. As teenage mothers will have a closer age gap to their babies than a mother who has a baby in her 20s or 30s, it’s showing that the teenage mother will relate to the child more especially when they start to grow up and develop. This is a positive as there would be less conflict between the mother and the child in the future, as the mother will be more understanding of the child’s position. This enables the teenage mother to emotionally, physically, and financially cater to the needs of the child in a better way. With the child and the mother having less of an age gap, this will able them to have a stronger bond with each other.
The chance of becoming a teenage mum will teach the mothers a sense of responsibility in life very soon, it will make the mothers feel mature enough to handle things that they have never handled before. It transforms the way they have been known and how society has stereotyped teenagers and makes them new people in all aspects of their life. Furthermore, it restores family lines better, as human beings have become short-lived, there is no one on this planet who has been able to see their grandchildren or their great-grandchildren, but however, in this case of teenage mothers, they can become happy by looking at their grandchildren and also perhaps their great-grandchildren. This is quite unheard of in this modern world. The young mother will be at the peak of her life in her mid-twenties and thirties and as the baby grows up she will have no trouble accomplishing all the tasks in a full-fledged manner. This paves the way for the young mothers to do some recreational job after she has been done parenting and is planning to spend their time according to their own choice. She will therefore be able to focus on her own likes and dislikes and concentrate on what is best for her.
Going through childbirth as a teenager will result in a quick recovery, the younger women are the easier it will be to recover from childbirth sooner than most of the women who have become mothers in their mid-thirties. Even if the hormonal balances do occur they will easily be treated and the woman can easily recover from them. They can soon spring back to their normal routine of life with no issues in their personal life and work. The changes in the body like the widening of the hips, change in the shape of the woman and the presence of the marks on the body like the stretch marks and the cesarean marks will all vanish even if they are treated. The young age is the age where the body will be full of energy and the woman who is a mother in her teens will be energetic and the birth pangs and the afterward will not be so crucial as in the case of the pregnant older woman.
The women are most likely to give birth to a healthy baby when they happen to be in their teens and are less likely to have any complications, but it is against the primitive setup of society. Women in the adolescent age will be likely to give birth to a good and strong baby if they happen to be between the ages of 18 and 25. Teenage pregnancies at the age of 13 will also be ideal for the woman to bring forth a healthy baby but it may lead to other complications in the body of the woman. So ab ideal birth time or period for the women must be selected.
When the babies were small the teenage mother would have been poor but as the child grows up she will know where to concentrate in order to add pleasantness to the child. It has been said that teenage mothers are likely to have less stress when compared to non-teen mothers.
In some governments of countries in the Western world, the government considers its own responsibility to nurture the family of young couples till they are able to secure a job or any other means of living. The young couple can make use of the schemes and use it for their welfare to bring the baby. Though this has been revoked in some countries, there are still some governments that continue the age-old law for the betterment of humanity.