Being pregnant is usually a welcome experience and a thing of joy when it occurs at a right time. Pregnancy is revered if it occurs in wedlock and at a mature age. But, it can also be a source of awkwardness should it happens in a teen. Teenage pregnancy is a public health concern both in developed and developing world. This is because it is quite common. Globally as many as 16 million women under the age of 20 give birth, representing up to one-fifth of all births. Below are some statistics to help you understand the issue better:
According to the World Health Organization, in 2008, there were 16 million births to mothers aged 15–19 years. This number represents 11% of all births worldwide. About 95% of these births occurred in low-and middle-income countries. The global adolescent birth rate has declined from 60 per 1000 in 1990 to 48 per 1000 in 2007, with rates ranging from 5 per 1000 women in eastern Asia to 121 per 1000 in sub-Saharan Africa in 2007. This shows that sub-Saharan Africa contributes a majority of childbearing teenagers.
What teen pregnancy is…
Teenage Pregnancy is the event that a teenager or under-aged usually within ages of thirteen to nineteen years becomes pregnant. In every day speech, women who have not reached legal adulthood, which varies across the world, are also considered teens. So that is where our problem begins. In some African cultures, being a woman has very little to do with age. If a girl has a husband, she is considered a woman. As a matter of fact, a girl who begins to menstruate is seen as a woman and should no longer hesitate to start having children. Pregnant teens can be observed in within or outside wedlock.
In the past decades, sexual activity and unplanned pregnancies have increased among teens. Pregnant teens was much less able to handle the stress of pregnancy than the adult women. This is made worse by several factors, including ignorance, poverty, lack of education, exposure to pornographic materials, peer group pressure, sexual abuse, coercion, and pleasure derivable from sexual intercourse.
But why does teenage pregnancies occur
A teenage girl may become pregnant as a result of many situations.
- Some teenage girls become pregnant while being involved in a long-term dating relationship.
- Others become pregnant as a result of a rape situation (Date rape inclusive).
- These days, sex with random people is becoming really common. Social media make it easy to meet with strangers and have sex with them with no strings attached.
- Transactional sex, that is, sex-for-money arrangements can go wrong.
- Trans-generational sex, that is a kind or relationship with an older man. This older man is often called ‘sugar-daddy’.
Other associated causes include poor sex education. Unfortunately, many African nations perceive sexuality matters as so sacred that it is regarded as a taboo for women to openly discuss them. The proscription of sexual information by society, exposes the teen to experiments, in search of knowledge. It is wrong to withhold useful sex information from teens. They face risks so serious, their lives are ruined by it.
Problems of teenage pregnancy
Teenage pregnancy poses 2 main types of problems: health and social problems.
Numerous risks such as childbirth complications endanger mother and child. I will quickly state them below:
- death: the risk of death due to pregnancy-related causes is double among women aged 15-19 compared to women in their twenties;
- stillbirths and death in the first week of life are 50% higher among babies born to mothers younger than 20 years than among babies born to mothers 20–29 years old;
- higher risks of pre-term birth, low birth weight and asphyxia are among the children of adolescents;
- all of which increase the chances of death and of future health problems for the baby.
Teenage pregnancies and child-bearing pose social problems. Some social problems associated with being a pregnant teen include:
- Education stalls or ends;
- unemployment among females
- family breakdown
- emotional stress
- The girl becomes the joke, etc
Many girls who become pregnant have to leave school. This has long-term implications for them as persons, their families and communities. Future poverty is a possibility too.
What can parents do?
Being parents of a pregnant teen is a struggle. Managing a pregnancy without soiling the relationship between teen and parents is difficult. Parents must work to build trust and show willingness to help the teen emotionally and financially. She requires help to keep track of the vitamins, doctor’s appointments, and parenting classes. Do something extra around the house to let them know you are thinking of them. And above all else, be truthful with them! It’s easier to lose trust than to build it back up. Here are a few tips to help parents cope with teen pregnancy:
- Don’t be overbearing because you want to make sure the baby is okay.
- Don’t speak out against the pregnancy even if you are unhappy about it. Safety of the child and mother is priority.
- Provide comfort and support always.
- encourage the teen to stay in school if this is convenient.
Michael is a Project Manager with years of experience in nonprofits and managing startups. He shares what he has learnt over time with like-minded persons. He gives classes to persons who plan a future in the nonprofits sector or as entrepreneurs.