Teenage pregnancy is a touchy subject – and a present reality. The Child and Adolescent Statute considers an adolescent to be an individual up to 18 years of age, which means that girls of school age and, often, still in the phase of growth and physical development become pregnant.
According to a report by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), developing countries, a category in which Brazil is included, are responsible, together, for 95% of early pregnancies in the world. Each year, seven million teenagers give birth in these countries. This means that around 20,000 girls under the age of 18 become mothers every day.
The news of early pregnancy can be a shock and cause for concern. It is common for pregnancy to be unplanned and the teenager has to deal with a mix of feelings – insecurity, fear, anxiety, stress. In addition, at this stage of life, most adolescents depend on the support and support of their parents, both financially and emotionally.
For parents, the news can be equally shocking. While it’s normal to feel disappointed, nervous, or worried at this point, the mother of a pregnant teenager needs to keep in mind that this is a time when her daughter will need her, perhaps more than any other time. It is possible that the teenager is faced with strong criticism and judgment from acquaintances, withdrawal from friends and abandonment of responsibility on the part of the baby’s father; not being alone in this scenario is fundamental. The mother’s support can make all the difference and help a lot in the mental and physical health of the teenager who faces this situation. Having someone to talk to, ask questions and share your feelings with is just as important as financial aid and medical care.
If you are a pregnant teenager or mother of one, in the course of this article you will find tips on how to deal with the new reality, seeking both physical and emotional health.
I’m pregnant: what to do now?
Discovering that you are pregnant as a teenager can be a great shock and it is common that, at first, the young woman finds herself confused and not knowing how to react to the situation.
“Teenage pregnancy, like other unplanned pregnancies, puts women in the face of questions, anguish and suffering. Considering the case of teenage women, suffering is mixed with the great fear of their parents, with the despair of seeing their dreams collapse, with the uncertainty of their student future, with shame”, says psychologist Laura Ferreira.
To face the new reality in the best possible way, seeking emotional and medical support makes all the difference. Here are some tips from experts that can help at this point.
process the news
Before dealing with other people, you need to deal with your own feelings. “To the teenagers who will go through this moment, be strong”, points out Laura. Finding strength in yourself is essential throughout pregnancy – and beyond.
Share the news with trusted people
“In the beginning, the teenager may be afraid to tell her parents, so she needs to share this truth with someone to ‘gain strength’ to later talk to the family”, suggests the psychologist Viviane Rossi.
Telling your parents that you are pregnant can be very difficult. So looking for someone you trust first can be an important step in building a base of support. This could be a friend, family member, or anyone close to whom the young person feels comfortable.
tell your parents
Although difficult, this is a necessary step. “Unlike any other moment in life, when alone she can decide for herself, in adolescence a woman will need the adults around her to take care of herself and her child”, points out Laura.
The most important thing at this point is to seek a transparent and respectful conversation on both sides. “The teenager can talk about her feelings, her doubts, her worries, her fears about the future, as clearly as possible”, says Viviane.
find a mediator
When the idea of talking to the parents seems excessively difficult for the pregnant woman, a tip is to seek outside help. “It is recommended that, in case of insecurity, the teenager can also call someone to accompany her when telling her parents, as long as it is someone who can respect all family members”, advises Viviane.
Seek professional support
Don’t be shy about seeking professional support to stay emotionally healthy. Viviane points out that “a pregnant teenager suffers from various existential issues, insecurity, low self-esteem, fear and can feed positive or negative fantasies about the future. When even the comfort of the person who welcomes her is not enough, she can seek support groups or individual psychotherapy”.
My daughter is pregnant: how to deal with the new reality
For parents, the shock of finding out their daughter is pregnant is also great. However, you need to know how to deal with the situation and keep in mind that, at this moment, your daughter needs you even more. “The time will be tough for everyone, but no pain justifies violence, whether physical or verbal. Parents, be calm and considerate. Remember that every pain, disappointment and anguish that passes in your heart also afflicts your daughter sitting right in front of you”, remembers Laura Ferreira.
It is common for the adolescent to seek mainly the support of the mother – both to help her face the new reality and to guide her in practical issues of pregnancy. Although it is not easy for the mother, being available to her daughter, without judgment and with a lot of respect, is essential.
“The mother initially needs to take care of herself, calm down and try to help lead this new family organization. She can also support her daughter by accompanying her to medical appointments, in conversations with the baby’s father and his family, guiding her on how to take care of herself and the baby on the way. She can try to be quite a companion to her daughter, helping her on a daily basis and protecting her from possible negative criticism”, points out Viviane Rossi.
Consider that your daughter is a teenager and is full of anguish. As Laura points out, it is worth remembering that the young woman is not yet an adult. “Your daughter did not enter the time machine, she is pregnant”, emphasizes the psychologist. Make yourself available to answer questions, talk, help her fight for her rights and empower her to make things happen in the least traumatic way possible.
Finally, keep in mind that support and support is not synonymous with completely taking the reins of the situation and leaving the teenager without a voice: her choices must be respected, always.
“The only conduct that should not be assumed is to be the mother of the baby that will be your grandson. As difficult as it is, each one must assume their own role: one is a mother, the other is a grandmother”, says Viviane.
Teenage pregnancy care
When it comes to physical health, there is no need to despair: mother and baby can go through this stage completely healthy. As with any pregnancy, it is necessary to take some care and pay attention to health, with the exception that teenage pregnancy needs some extra care – especially in the case of younger pregnant women, with the body not yet fully formed.
“The main risks are for the fetus: the incidence of preterm preterm birth grows when it comes to teenage pregnancy. The incidence of low birth weight is also higher for babies born to teenagers, since their intrauterine growth competes with that of the mother, who is still growing”, warns Rodrigo Hurtado, gynecologist at Clínica Origen. The doctor also highlights that premature birth can carry risks such as respiratory complications.
To make sure that everything goes well, medical assistance is indispensable. “Prenatal care in adolescence is of paramount importance for monitoring and preventing possible complications during pregnancy,” says Juliana Amato, gynecologist and obstetrician at the Amato Institute of Advanced Medicine.
The main care is, with medical follow-up, the control of the pregnant woman’s weight gain and fetal growth. In addition, the mother must, as Juliana points out, “have a balanced diet rich in nutrients; avoid cigarettes, alcohol, strenuous exercise and excess caffeine.
For Rodrigo Hurtado, in addition to the specific issues of prenatal care, the importance of this follow-up in a teenage pregnancy is even greater. “Prenatal care serves as an opportunity to build a relationship of trust between the transdisciplinary health team and the patient, promoting a reduction in the chances of a new unplanned pregnancy through psychological and gynecological support, with an emphasis on clarification on contraception and care with the newborn”, he defends.
In addition to taking care of the baby’s health, pregnant women cannot forget to take care of themselves – physically and psychologically. “For the mother, the risks are more psychological and social than physical. The incidence of depression and relationship disorders with family members and with the partner is higher”, points out Dr. Hurt.
Looking for emotional support can contribute a lot to the baby’s health in the long term. “Adolescents who become mothers suffer psychological pressure from themselves and from society, which can lead to rejection of the child if they do not have well-structured support”, comments Dr. I love
Every experience is unique and things don’t happen the same in every case. After all, each teenager deals with pregnancy differently and the family also reacts in different ways.
Angel Mesquita, YouTuber of the Mãe channel at 18, got pregnant at 17. Check out Angel’s testimonial:
“I found out I was pregnant in the second week of missed period. Deep down I already knew I was pregnant and went after my certainty. I took a blood test and it was positive. Soon after I went for an ultrasound, it was eight weeks pregnant, I already listened to the heart and fell in love right there. Of course, it wasn’t all wonderful. When I was sure of the pregnancy, I cried, I didn’t want to believe it, I was reluctant, I wondered why that was, why that ‘stupidity’, how I was going to support that little being, what my father would think of me, how I would go to school with that huge belly, as society would see her. It’s a surreal mix of feelings! My mother always had control over tampons at home; not on purpose, but she noticed when I didn’t. And that’s how she found out. There were days of crying and questioning, not easy. It was harder for my father to tell, so much so that I didn’t. Who told it was my stepmother. The two had a blow, but in the end, they helped me and help me a lot! It’s not an easy task to be a mother, even younger, when we still depend on our parents. At the height of my 17 years I got pregnant, raised my head and didn’t drop the shuttlecock…
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