This week I learned that a young lady in my family is pregnant. This has brought out many different opinions that I am sure this young lady is hearing. Though maybe she is being shunned or is shunning away from hearing. There are fears that she can no longer become the best that she can be, that her education is ruined and therefore her future and the future for the baby is ruined.
As a doula, I have attended a handful of teen births. I find myself asking questions as I process the birth later about the future of the family. I find myself shocked when the Aunt (it seems to always happen) asks mom the moment the baby comes when she plans to have her next. I am human. I write it off as cultural, though really, it is across cultures. It might be that what you are given as guidance and motivation is what determines how far you can go in life (even with a perceived early procreation).
The young lady is not the first in the family to become pregnant at a young age, her age being 15. In other generations we have had pregnancies as early as 14, maybe even earlier. Some may have been terminated either by loss, medical necessity, or abortion. Others went full-term and their lives unfolded. Lives still unfold.
In my everyday I try to look for the positive in everything. In cases of teenage pregnancy, we should find a way to focus on the positive, help the young parents recalculate their future, find their path, become all that they can. Stop preaching and help them find their way. The young mother still needs to be surrounded by good things as does a mom who is in her 30’s. She should be given the opportunity to have childbirth education classes, breastfeeding classes, babywearing lessons, and a doula. She should also be able to still be her young self. She should be able to finish school and have the opportunity to go to college. She should be able to find a nanny or daycare that coincides with her values of child-rearing. She may not know where to find these things, and it is very possible that no one she knows has a clue how to help her grow. This is where a doula can also help. A doula can help her find help. Family can help her find a doula, the cost is worth it and can be paid for with the help of many.
If you are young, in high school or even college, and find yourself pregnant and wondering how to manage having a child and still growing yourself, please know that we are all still growing and we all need to figure out how to still be ourselves and raise a baby. Some of us are in a place where we can give our all, but some of us do not have all to give. You can give your all when you get to that point, for now, stay positive, stay on track. Don’t give up for you might have another 80 years left, why give up now? APPLY TO COLLEGE/GRAD SCHOOL! Apply for grants. Find a group of other young parents who are also motivated to succeed in the same way you envision yourself succeeding.
If you are a parent, family member, or teacher of a young person who is pregnant please help them. Against popular belief, the young lady does not grow up overnight just because a fetus is growing inside of her. She may still be a child. She still needs nurturing. She still needs guidance. Be positive and remember your role in her life.
At one of the teen births that I attended, the dad and his family was there. The dad had recently turned 14. It is hard to watch a 14 year old boy see his baby being born. He looked lost and unsure of what was really happening, much like many first-time dads. He needed guidance too and assurance that everything will be ok, if he let it be ok. So, please don’t forget that there are multiple parties involved in all pregnancies. He was terrified but told to “man up.”
In the end, we could do better at sex education. We could have better programs in place for teen parents. We could change the way we handle situations that many of us feel are unfortunate and look for the positive, look for a way to make things work. Some people take their whole lives to find the right path, young parents might be forced to study harder to get their quicker. They could be your next CEO. Let them know that.
Some resources that might be beneficial to you:
- Christopher House‘s Teen Parent Program- Our prenatal and parent education staff creates a strong support system for new parents through weekly home visits, support groups, and education workshops. Our parent educators, doulas (pregnancy and birth experts), and licensed clinical social workers teach parents to:
- Prepare for the birth and the first months of their baby’s life.
- Build parent-child relationships and assist with infant care.
- Create a strong support system for new parents.
- Educate parents about their role as their child’s “first teacher.”
- Family Focus‘s teen parent programs offer comprehensive medical, educational, and support services that help teens both prepare for the demands of parenthood and nurture their own development by focusing on academic success and career. By helping teens prepare for the future, they are better able to provide for their baby and less likely to have a second pregnancy.
- Ounce of Prevention: In our evidence-based home visiting programs, parent coaches provide child-development and parenting information to help teen parents create safe, stimulating home environments; model positive and language-rich relationships; and ensure families are connected to medical, dental, mental-health and other supports.
- Teen Parent Connection is a nonprofit agency serving teen parents in DuPage County as they navigate the challenges of both parenthood and adolescence. In addition, we offer school-based pregnancy prevention education programs in both middle schools and high schools to help reduce the risk of teen pregnancy. We are a staff, board, and community dedicated to empowering young families and creating the best possible start for young mothers, young fathers, and their babies.
- Aunt Martha’s is committed to supporting young mothers and their children. We make it easy for moms to make sure their babies get the care they need. We’ll help you prepare your baby for a healthy life by getting them off to a Healthy Start! Our Healthy Start services are co-located with several of our women’s health centers, so their convenient. And once you and your baby are enrolled, Aunt Martha’s care coordinators will make it easy for you to connect with a wide range of support services. But being a good parent doesn’t stop with taking care of your baby. It also means taking care of yourself! Aunt Martha’s can help with this, too.
On that thought, I leave you with the fabulous Madonna.