A Teen’s Guide to Pregnancy by Brody Weese
Baby fever is a real emotion and men and women alike catch the contagious desire to have children. This irrepressible feeling often comes about after someone meets a new baby or is getting to the point where they will soon not be able to make babies, which is sometimes called the “biological clock”. The problem with this is that often we only see the best side of the baby, or we are so young that we simply have a naive sense of what parenthood is really like. Aside from getting baby fever, a young girl could become pregnant by accident. This paper is going to show the effects of having a baby at the age of 19 or younger. Stress is a big issue as to why teenagers are not yet ready for the responsibility of parenthood.
Nearly one in five teens say that when they do not get enough sleep, they are more stressed and 36 percent of teens report feeling tired because of stress in the past month. This is just on the average school year. It is said, according to Dr. William C. Dement, a physician and sleep specialist, parents of newborns often lose about two hours of sleep per night until the baby is 5 months old, not including feedings. While the joy that babies cause is immeasurable, so is the stress. Researchers have also found that twice as many teen moms are at risk of developing postpartum depression (PPD) as older moms. PPD is when a mother becomes depressed after childbirth. Though it is very common, seeing as many as 3 million cases in the US each year, it can cause insomnia, loss of appetite, intense irritability, and difficulty bonding with the baby.
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Stress can also be brought on by pressure and shame from peers. They also have higher rates of suicidal ideation than their peers who aren’t mothers. Teen mothers are more likely to experience posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than other teenage women, as well. This could be because teen moms are more likely to have gone through mental and/or physical abuse, depending on the reaction of the parents, friends, and family, and the father of the child or mother’s boyfriend as well. While the pregnancy itself can cause stress for many reasons, for many girls, mothers or not, high school is a very stressful time all on its own.
Statistics show that only 40 percent of teen mothers finish high school and fewer than 2 percent finish college by age 30. Young women who give birth while attending a community college are 65 percent less likely to complete their degree than women who do not have children during that time. Just your schooling years alone can be affected that much by whether or not you were a teen parent. Stressing on reconfiguring your more than likely already planned future can take quite a toll on you, young or old. The finances are also a disadvantage for teen parents. According to BLS data, the average salary of 16- to-19-year-olds is $420 per week, $21,840 per year.
The average cost of a teenager being between 15 and 17 costs around $13,900 annually. This is not taking into account cars, schooling (in private school cases), or living arrangements. Now, the average cost of a baby is roughly $12,000 on child-related expenses during just the first year of the baby’s life. Just for the convenience of quick math, adding these costs together totals at about $25,900, well over the spending budget of your average teen. So, we have teens scrambling around for money to support themselves and their children. On top of this, some teenagers are rejected by their parents.
Like most states, Kansas’s age of majority is 18 years old, or 16 if you are married, though only 8 out of 10 teen dads marry the mother of their child. So if you are 18 and get kicked out, you can live independently with your child in a home that you pay for. This can also be very costly. The same applies to the few who marry at 16. But the real question is, where do the mothers who are too young to live alone go? The solution to this problem is the many homes, programs, and foster cares provided specially for teenage mothers. This brings us into our next issue, which is living arrangements in general. As mentioned, there are many homes, programs, and foster cares provided specially for teenage mothers.
However, the quality of interactions within those homes might actually need to be put under the microscope as well. Foster care is one of those programs where not everyone can have the same experience. Foster teens aren’t allowed to do many things other teens do, like getting a drivers license or going to sleepovers. In the case of being rejected, a young woman may find herself in a home far worse than she was. Just the act of entering foster care can cause serious emotional trauma. In fact, one study found that foster children are more likely to suffer PTSD than combat veterans. So, right off the bat, foster homes aren’t exactly a magical getaway, even if they are helpful. The Annie E. Casey Foundation reports that only about 18% of children are removed from their situations due to physical or sexual abuse.
Another statistic states that by placing a child into foster care, the risk of that child being abused almost doubles compared to living with their parents in the first place. This means that more than 40,800 children who were never abused now will be while in foster care. This applies to those who are without children but just imagine being born in these types of conditions. Not only do we have teens suffering, but the children they bear also have to go through without ever experiencing life differently. But not all foster parents are evil people. Most of them really do try to provide a safe and loving environment, but some simply do not have enough money. The basic foster care rates currently range from $657 to $820 per month, depending on the age of the child. For children who have special requirements, there is a specialized care increment, ranging from $79 up to $840 per month, determined by the child’s social worker.
Don’t forget to take in the average annual cost of living, being $13,200 for just one single person. Then with our original cost of $25,900, raising just one teen and his/her child can be too much financially for a lot of people to handle. While a big part of the issues lies in what happens after birth, there are extremely big risks in the pregnancy and birth itself. Teens are at a higher risk for pregnancy-related high blood pressure, or preeclampsia, while the infant itself is at risk for premature birth and low birth weight, all these risk being fairly fatal. Pregnant teens also have a higher chance of becoming anemic. Anemia is a reduction in the number of red blood cells.
This can make you feel weak and tired and can affect your baby’s development. When a woman becomes pregnant, her insides expectedly become more compacted to make room for the baby. However, when you have a pregnancy in a teen or adolescent, the body is a lot smaller and there is less room. Again, it is expected to have shortness in breath and backaches, but on a smaller body the symptoms of an average pregnancy can actually be dangerous. On a lighter note, there are things you can do to make sure that your pregnancy goes well. One of the most important is nutrition because a teenage girl’s body is developing and does not have the proper nutrition that an adult mom would usually have. As for the birth, taking childbirth classes can be a helpful step and, if available, it is recommended to have the father come along as well.
The future of the family, being the mother, father, and child, can be drastically affected by the change. Some opportunities that could have or else wouldn’t have been brought up, no longer seem to present themselves in the same way they do now. Parenthood is the leading reason that teen girls drop out of school. More than 50% of teen mothers never graduate from high school and only 2% receive a college degree. This makes bringing home a paycheck much harder and, as mentioned, a baby is quite an expensive addition to a young teen’s life.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most common jobs for teen girls include food service, retail sale and cashier jobs. Because most of these jobs involve standing for long periods of time, a pregnant teen may not be able to keep her job, especially in the last trimester of her pregnancy. For mental issues, depression is a highly immense issue. A teenage girl living with parents may find it even more difficult to cope with pregnancy for she will be drawn by the guilt of having let her parents down. Besides, most families are aversive to the idea of teenage pregnancy and instead of supporting the child, end up throwing unfriendly and disturbing remarks.
This makes the pregnant teenager experience hostility from her parents or family members and makes her feel as if she is far away from being taken care of. At such a juncture, a pregnant teenager may look for ways to kill herself or the baby, thereby enhancing the existing issue load. As for the father, despite the stereotypes, there is increasing evidence that teen fathers want to be involved with their children, though this involvement may not always include financial support. An unmarried father has rights and responsibilities concerning custody, visitation, and child support.
However, an unmarried father needs to take legal action to obtain these rights and responsibilities and must sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity form. This is the legal way for the father to claim his child. Teen pregnancy often focuses on how poor and innocent the mother is and how the father is reckless, but often this is not the case. Some young men will be hesitant to sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity form due to the fear of being shunned and socially scolded, or simply just used for child support.
Studies indicate that teen fathers are nearly always older than the mother. It may be only by a few months, but often teen fathers are older by a year or more. In fact, in many cases, teen fathers could be charged with statutory rape or be forced to identify as a registered sex offender due to the age difference. The fathers often will have employers who judge them due to their actions. They may also deal with a lack of education, a reputation for being a delinquent, and other issues. As a result, they are at greater risk of being broke. Their job employers are not the only one to judge teen dads.
Most teen dads are stigmatized by teen moms’ families. Many families of teen moms feel like the teen dads ruined that girl’s life. They may feel like he took advantage of the girl, raped her, or is not man enough. So, they may end up chasing the guy off rather than offering upbeat encouragement that he needs. This could be one of the many concerning reasons why 8/10 teens dad do not stay with the mother of their children. The effects it has on the child are also notable.
Children born to teen parents are more likely to have lower school achievement, enter the child welfare and correctional systems, drop out of high school and become teen parents themselves, compared to children born to older parents. In fact, growing up without the father can cause the child to have a 25% risk of adolescent parenthood. Seeing as the father rarely stays with the mother, the odds are not in favor of the children. When looking at the mental results of a child born to a teen mom, psychological studies show that children growing up without fathers are more likely to be aggressive and quick to anger. Additionally, they have a greater chance of passing on my aggression to my children.
Looking further into the mental aspect, research has found that teen parents are more likely to engage in harsh parenting practices like yelling and spanking. Having fewer life experiences and coping skills, compared to older parents, can make it harder to handle the irritability and frustration that sometimes arise when caring for a new baby. This can cause emotional issues for the child growing up. As mentioned, teen mothers often live in poverty, meaning that the children they bear also live in poor circumstances. They may not have nutritious foods to eat on a regular basis, and they may not have the ability to attend college when high school is complete. They also might live in unsafe neighborhoods in which drug use and crime are common, due to the fact the majority of houses in these neighborhoods are cheaper.
One study shows, that the share of convicted criminals in the neighborhood where young boys grow up affects their criminal behavior later in life. Which means that because they lived in a bad neighborhood, some children will grow up to also be involved in crime. Not all parents are supportive of pregnancy in teens, though many are willing to be there for their children. A lot of parents are harsh in dealing with the news and some girls can be led to depression. It can feel very isolating to be pregnant and not have supporting parents, but many girls need to realize that there are ways to cope with this.
Depending on the reaction, you can simply choose to walk away and figure out what to do in response later. This can actually help you if you tend to be hot-headed or make rash decisions. Plenty of pregnant women have refused grandparents involvement forever based on the reactions of new grandparents-to-be. This is reckless and is probably not what you mean. Keep in mind that whatever their reaction, they too are most likely reacting on the fly also. In the best case scenario, the chances are they are just shocked, worried and or disappointed. There are a number of reasons why people react negatively to a pregnancy announcement. When it comes to friends, some fear that they may lose their connection with you.
They may feel that your relationship will change because now you will be a mom, you will be busier with the baby instead of them. They fear you may start talking about the baby instead of world news or, more importantly, their news. Friends’ negative reactions can also be because they are jealous, particularly if they are struggling to conceive, or because they have concerns about you if it was unplanned or your relationship is unstable. Of course at the age of a teen, you would think that most friends would definitely not be jealous of the teen mom, but you’d be surprised. It would be naive to say that there are only supportive responses to teen pregnancy because that is simply not true. However, in a good community and alot in small towns, the teen will receive a lot of attention for her condition.
Now, in the eyes of the mom, this can be overwhelming and certainly does make her situation in any way an easy or fun one. But the issue with this is that some outsides may become jealous of the attention, less for the pregnancy. This may actually cause the teen to lose friends and support due to jealousy. This could be a real predicament because these are the exact essentials to an emotionally healthy pregnancy. The effects of such jealousy can lead us to believe that teen pregnancy is in fact contagious. It is a well-known fact that children learn from each other. Monkey-see, monkey-do.
This effect can also be applied with things such as drinking, drugs, sex, and even separately, pregnancy. A television program, “Teen Mom”, was first brought up to be a way to make girls think twice about starting an early family. However, in 2011 three friends of “Teen Mom 2” star Janelle Evans had gotten pregnant within a year of Janelle starring on the show. No one can say for sure, obviously, whether these friends purposely became pregnant to follow in her footsteps and potentially earn media attention, but clearly, she did not serve as the cautionary tale she was supposed to be, even to her closest friends. This not only can make our already stressed teen mom feel guilty, but it can also convince even more girls to become pregnant.
This, likely many other infectious behaviors, can spread rapidly. While teen pregnancy is a big deal and we do not want girls to get pregnant in high school, I do want to encourage support and community for these girls, as they are probably going through quite a big transformation in their life. The first place a pregnant teen can go for help is a pregnancy resource center. As has been mentioned, teenage mothers do not tend to have a lot of money. So, given this information, some places take the liberty to provide cheaper child necessity items and help for the teen and their child.
Things they can receive here free pregnancy tests, parenting classes, prenatal development classes, counseling, life coaching, and free supplies such as diapers, baby wipes, etc. It has also been said that these teens can sometimes lose their home due to pregnancy. However, a maternity home is a place a pregnant teen can go if they are at risk for homelessness or if they need a place to stay far away from their community where they will be loved, supported, cared for, and not judged. The best thing to do after you have found a steady place to live is to do a little research. A lot of people will try to tell you what to do or put doubt and/or guilt into your mind. The worst things for a teen is confusion and too many opinions.
You need to figure things out for yourself and be able to find out what you want to do, what’s best for you and your baby. In conclusion, there is a lot that comes with having a baby, especially in high school. There are several things to take into consideration. You must take into account the endless stress that will arise in your life and what all it can do to you. You also have to accept that babies are expensive, with the hospital bill alone, you rack up $10,808.
Another thing you must realize is that you might not always have a steady living arrangement. This is not going to be healthy for you or your new child, fresh to the world. Take note that pregnancy itself is not for the faint of heart, considering that just the first nine months can take a drastic toll on you and your infant. You can’t always live in the moment, because pregnancy is going to affect the rest of the whole family’s lives. Babies can also cause you to lose friends, particularly if you are in high school. This could possibly affect your friends’ decisions to have children as well.
Also, you may not exactly be met with the reactions you desire. However, you do have options and there most definitely are places to get help. There are many great things about having a child and they should all be enjoyable and appreciated. Overall, a child is a scary change for someone young, but is also the most enlivening experience one can go through. There will be tears; lots and lots of tears. But, the best thing about it is that the love aspect makes half of those tears, that of joy. It should be an experience that one should wait for, but when it comes, this essay should be a helpful guide.