Pregnancy can be difficult for any woman and it is no big leap that teenage pregnancy would be even more worrying. It is shocking to realise that you have gotten pregnant but you are not alone in this ordeal. In fact, almost 1 in every 43 girls in the age group of 15-19 years becomes a teen mother in India. Although it feels like the worst thing that could have happened to you and that there are no answers to this problem, you actually have ways to deal with it.
With a teen pregnancy, you are not only looking at the coming challenges of pregnancy that are meant for adults, but also the social stigma, complicated feelings and many sudden changes in life that you did not expect. Being a teenager is hard and adding to that the life-changing experience that pregnancy is, it is difficult for young mothers like you to cope.
No matter how frowned upon teen pregnancy is in society, teen girls do get pregnant and the lack of comprehensive sex education in our societal structure only promotes this. Because schools, parents and the popular media do not talk about this, you may be feeling like there is nowhere to go to understand what to do next. In this article, we cover everything about teenage pregnancy that you would like to know.
Dealing with symptoms of early teenage pregnancy
The early signs of pregnancy are usually the same in teenagers as they are in adult females. A missed period is the most noticeable indicator of pregnancy in the time after you have had sexual intercourse. Once you start experiencing some of the other pregnancy symptoms like fatigue and nausea, the real trouble starts. Not only these symptoms are hard to hide from people if you have not told them about your pregnancy, but they also bring unwanted changes in your life. Increasing weight, certain foods and smells making you pukish and going through life with them can take a toll on your body and spirit. Before the situation escalates, it is best to make a decision about whether you want to carry this child or not!
Choices you have about teenage pregnancy
Finding out that you are pregnant at this stage of your life can come as a shock and something that you don’t want to deal with. While wallowing in denial may look appealing, it is better for you to actually seek help or advice from a qualified individual soon. Once you are aware of all the important factors and your medical conditions in time, you will get the following options regarding what to do about your pregnancy:
- Raising the child
Choose to continue your pregnancy and raise your child with a partner or your family. The response of your family and society when deciding to keep the child differs culturally. Indian families may want you to get married to the father of your child or they may support your decision to raise him/ her on your own.
- Letting the baby be adopted
You can choose to carry your pregnancy to term and let your child be adopted by others looking to start their families this way. You can read more about when a child is free to be adopted and the adoption laws in India before making this choice.
In both these cases, you have to carry your pregnancy to term and that decision should be made with full information what it means for your health.
Health risks of teenage pregnancy
While having a stable menstruation cycle indicates that the female body is able to be pregnant, this in no way means that you are ready to be a mother. In fact, in many other ways too, the teenage body might not be exactly fit to nurture and give birth to another life. Here are some of the most common health risks of teenage pregnancy:
- Increased chances of having a premature birth along with low birth weight.
- Anaemia is already prevalent in many young women and pregnancy is likely to cause iron deficiency and anaemia in teens easily.
- Constant high blood pressure induced in this time is a cause for concern about teenage pregnancy, especially when it can further develop into preeclampsia.
- It is widely known that the rate of infant mortality in teen pregnancy is significantly high as compared to an adult giving birth. The reasons for teenage pregnancy to turn out like this can be complications, inadequate nutrition or lack of teenage pregnancy awareness.
- Rates of miscarriage also increase in such pregnancy caused by a number of potential reasons. bleeding from the vagina
- Another of the health risks of teenage pregnancy is that the child’ head can turn out to be much bigger than your pelvic opening (cephalopelic disproportion), causing future problems in normal delivery too.
Once you understand the medical problems of teenage pregnancy, you are faced with the choices regarding how to move forward from there. Other than the 2 options mentioned above, you also have another choice available.
- End the pregnancy
You can also choose to terminate the pregnancy and get an abortion at the hospital. Abortion laws usually vary in different parts of the world, so you should educate yourself about the ones applicable to your pregnancy. Indian law allows you to get an abortion for various reasons until 20 weeks of pregnancy. Many young girls remain unaware about their pregnancy till its too late and then they don’t have this option anymore. Make sure that you are vigilant about signs of pregnancy if you are sexually active.
Health risks regarding abortion and after
Getting an abortion in a reliable clinic/hospital is a very safe medical procedure and does not usually have any problems. But for the sake of full disclosure, there have been cases with the following problems, thus the potential risks here are:
- The procedure is unsuccessful and your pregnancy continues.
- The chances of having some pregnancy tissue being left behind in your womb.
- You may have some blood clotting in the womb or bleeding from the vagina after the procedure.
- Getting infections or developing allergic reactions to medications.
- The emotional or mental health risks you face here are depression and feelings of guilt and shame. With the help of a counsellor and the support of your loved ones, you can move on from this.
There are no long-term side-effects of getting an abortion, meaning it does not interfere in any future pregnancies. It does not affect your fertility, does not cause breast or cervical cancer or leave you emotionally unstable for a long time.
Telling the father of your child
All the joys and problems of teenage pregnancy are not just for you to bear alone, the father of your child – your boyfriend, is equally responsible here. It will be a new and scary experience for both of you and that may also affect your relationship. There are many questions that you will have to answer for yourself and together too. Should I still stay in this relationship? Are we raising this kid together? Will we get married later on? It is important to openly discuss everything so that there is no room for misunderstandings or conflicts that cannot be resolved. If need be, have your trusted loved ones beside you to support you in these talks. One important thing to keep in mind is that his first reaction to this news may not be positive, you should not take this to heart. It is as much a shock to him as it is to your parents and might require some time to understand the seriousness of the situation. Once both of you are on the same page, it will get easier to adjust to all the pregnancy changes. Additionally, it helps as the way to navigate your relationship now that the dynamics have changed.
Telling parents about teenage pregnancy
Since you are not yet considered an adult, your parents feel immensely responsible for the turn your life takes. Teenage pregnancy is not a part of the future that they envision for you and this reality can be very jarring for them. The reasons for teenage pregnancy can also touch a nerve with them, therefore, a topic to be approached carefully. It might feel like they don’t trust you anymore after informing them about your pregnancy, but being honest here will relieve the huge burden that you are unknowingly carrying. No one can say with certainty how a parent may react in such situations but showing them that you are now responsibly facing the result of the actions and need them, will be helpful. They may even turn out to be very dedicated to caring for you in this challenging time!
In the unfortunate case where you and your parents are in conflict over this pregnancy and how to proceed forward, ask for assistance from your gynaecologist or a government medical facility.
Completing your education with early teenage pregnancy
Even when you feel that finishing school and thinking about a future college is very difficult right now, completely giving up all education prospects is not the correct way to go. Finishing your education will only help you in your life whether you choose to keep your baby or not. For right now, find out if there is a way to finish your schooling while managing the pregnancy and all that comes with it. It might be difficult to adjust with your peers and friends, but with time, you will overcome this problem of teenage pregnancy. Take all the help and support that you can get from your partner, family, friends, administration etc to do your best in academics too. Take each day as it comes and steadily build your life with this addition rather than putting all of your focus on just the pregnancy.
Finding out that you are pregnant in your teenage is a difficult reality to deal with, it is not something that you had planned for and certainly not something that society expects from you. Many of you don’t have any idea about what to do next and it is not surprising. Do not take any hasty decisions that can increase the already present health risks of teenage pregnancy or risk your life. You are not alone and you can find the assistance you require from a lot of sources including your partner, family, friends, doctors and help centres.
FAQs about teenage pregnancy
Q1. What are the reasons for teenage pregnancy?
Ans. The reasons for teenage pregnancy are mostly based on the lack of sexual education and reproductive health in schools. Teenagers experience hormonal changes and curiosity about the opposite sex after going through puberty, and the gap in education often leads them to make unwise decisions at this time. Having unprotected sex or not using condoms while being sexually active can easily lead to teenage pregnancy. Other than the criminal cases of rape and sexual assault, the level of teenage pregnancy awareness is generally pretty low.
Q2. How to manage a social life with teenage pregnancy?
Ans. It is no surprise that teenage pregnancy comes with a lot of prejudice, social taboo and generally causes your social life to take a nose-dive. To become a teen mom, your responsibilities only increase because now you have a newborn to care for. The best way to deal with this is to have set routines and schedules for every day. You will get the time to meet friends and have a social life only when you manage all your tasks within these timelines. Let your partner or family babysit when you have to go to college or outings and do not shut out those who wish to support you. Your life does not just revolve around your baby, so make time for yourself too.