How To Help Teens Through An Unexpected Pregnancy
This article about teen pregnancy was originally published in December 2019, and all relevant facts and statistics have been updated as of September 2022.
Although the teen pregnancy rate in Nebraska declined 64% between 1991 and 2020, there were still 984 births to teens in 2020. Unplanned pregnancies are nothing short of overwhelming and come with a range of feelings.
Feelings of shock, disappointment, despair, and embarrassment are perfectly normal. As helpless as you as a parent may feel once you learn about your teen’s pregnancy, it is good to know that there are many ways in which you can support your son or daughter through what is undoubtedly a very testing time in both your lives.
Show Support Through The Difficult Decisions
As a parent, it is essential to balance your own feelings and beliefs by offering support to your child in learning about their options regarding pregnancy. Together you can explore the options and decide whether they will parent or make an adoption plan. These are very difficult decisions for anyone to make but may prove to be even more distressing for a vulnerable teen.As a parent of a pregnant teen, it is essential to balance your own feelings and beliefs by offering support to your child in learning about their options as far as pregnancy is concerned. Find out more from @NEChildrensHome:Click To Tweet
Remember that there is no shame in feeling overwhelmed and that it may be a good idea to get a counselor involved to educate you and your child further on the options and offer an unbiased opinion concerning the situation.
Create a support system of trusted friends and family who have their own unique relationships with your child. In such a stressful and unsure situation, having many reliable and trustworthy people in your and your child’s corner will make a huge difference. By forming a group of people who love you and your child, you can get insights from many different backgrounds and experiences that can help guide you on this new journey.
Additionally, you can show your support by being an accepting, listening ear for your child. At this point, they are entering a very uncertain time in their lives and need as much assistance and understanding as possible. While we still emphasize the importance of reaching out to provide your child with the best resource and help possible, simply listening and being present during stressful moments can move mountains.
For many teens who are unexpectedly pregnant, when they are first revealing their situation to parents and family members, they simply want someone to hear them, not judge them immediately, and provide a semblance of comfort.
Another tactic you can use to help show support immediately is to relate their experiences to your parenting stories. Can you remember when you or your partner first found out they were pregnant? Can you relate to the uncertainty, perhaps fear, or even unpreparedness your teen is currently facing? No matter your story, there are certainly bound to be some similarities between your experiences that can provide comfort and guidance for your teen.
Help Get The Best Care Possible
Regardless of whether or not your child plans to parent, it is vital that the pregnant teen receives the best prenatal care possible. Although most teen girls are biologically able to carry healthy babies, adequate health care is needed to ensure that they do. Being pregnant can put a lot of strain on a young girl’s body, sometimes resulting in high blood pressure, anemia, fetal distress, and even a miscarriage.
Regular prenatal check-ups will also ensure they’re screened for several pregnancy-related medical conditions, such as gestational diabetes, which affects up to 10% of all pregnant women in the USA. During prenatal check-ups, they will also be informed of the importance of making healthy lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking and alcohol consumption, which can greatly benefit them and the unborn baby.Teen pregnancy will undoubtedly catapult both your and your child’s lives into unknown territory. However, with the many resources available for pregnant teens today, support is easier to come by. Learn more from @NEChildrensHome:Click To Tweet
But true pregnancy care doesn’t stop at prenatal care; it should address the internal and external issues pregnant teens and their families face. Mental health and financial assistance are two very important elements of receiving care and support. These two aspects can seem inaccessible to many pregnant teens, but in reality, many organizations are solely dedicated to providing these services to pregnant teens.
Why Mental Health Is So Important For Pregnant Teens
- Pregnancy rates in young women with emotional disorders run as high as 50%, compared to the national average of 17%.
- Young women are about twice as likely as men to suffer from depression, anxiety disorders, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
- Postpartum depression can disable some women and may also be preceded by undetected depression.
- Rates of depression are estimated to be between 16% and 44% in adolescent mothers.
Financial Resources for Pregnant Teens in Nebraska
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families in Nebraska is called Aid to Dependent Children (ADC).
- The Nebraska Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Nebraska Medicaid Program
- Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
Don’t Be Too Hard On Them (Or Yourself)
Teen pregnancy will undoubtedly catapult your and your child’s lives into unknown territory. The entire family is bound to feel emotional, and although it is natural for you to be angry, you also need to remember that your daughter will need you more than ever.
Try your best to communicate calmly and be supportive, and do not be too hard on your daughter or yourself despite your disappointment. Recognize and acknowledge your own feelings, work through them, and allow your daughter to do the same.
As difficult as an unplanned pregnancy might be for the whole family, supporting your child as best you can is crucial. This is your opportunity to help them make an unplanned pregnancy into a pregnancy with a plan.
The most important thing you can do as a parent in this situation is to act through empathy and care. While this might not be your first instinct facing such an emotional situation, it helps your teen understand that they truly are loved unconditionally and have your support no matter what.
Additionally, when employing empathy, you can make this process easier on yourself by approaching the unexpected pregnancy with tact and grace. Everyone involved needs to feel supported and seen to provide the most help possible. By ensuring a healthy mindset and action plan, you are best positioned to help your teen through their pregnancy journey.
Facing a pregnancy as a teen can be stressful, to say the least. But, with the resources available to teens today, many of the toughest challenges pregnant teens face can be mitigated or even entirely omitted.
If you or someone you know is going through an unplanned pregnancy, NCHS offers in-depth, inclusive pregnancy services. Click here to learn more.
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