Teenage pregnancy is when a woman under the age of 19 has sexual intercourse and becomes pregnant. The problem of teenage pregnancy is related to cultural, religious, moral, and social issues. Most of us have a firm belief that children should not get pregnant until after marriage. Pregnant teenagers always find a lack of support from their family and friends. Teen pregnancy has been a cause of concern throughout the world. The number of teenage pregnancies in the western industrialized world is alarming.
A teenager, after having unprotected sex, can immediately take an emergency contraceptive pill (ECP) which is available at most walk in clinic or from a doctor. This pill helps in several ways. Firstly it helps by stopping body from releasing an egg. If the egg has already been released then ECP prevents the egg from getting fertilized. If egg is already fertilized then it stops the egg from setting in the uterus. The ECP can be taken within 120 hours of having unprotected sex. ECP cannot help if the pregnancy has already taken place. ECP is safe and does not cause miscarriage or abortions in case it is taken by pregnant women.
Once a teenager is pregnant then she has the option of keeping the baby or terminating the pregnancy by having an abortion. The decision to become a parent in teenage years can be very hard and taxing. Child care is a full time job and requires a lot of love and care to be given to the newborn child after his/her birth. It is a tough decision to become a single parent. Before a teenage mother decide to keep her baby and become a single unmarried parent, she needs to answer a few questions –
- Where will you get the finance to support yourself and the baby?
- Is the time right for you to be a parent?
- How will you continue your studies and look after a baby?
- Are your friends and family ready to support you?
The other way out is to go in for adoption which can be an open adoption or a closed adoption. In an open adoption you choose the parents who will look after your baby and can even keep in touch with them. In a closed adoption everything is kept private and nobody knows who are the real parents or the adopted parents.
The other choice is abortion which means ‘termination of pregnancy’. This can be usually carried out before the 12th week of pregnancy. It is safe to have an early abortion and should always be handled at a licensed clinic. There are times when you cannot make a decision yourself, so you must find somebody to talk to. Your parents could be an ideal choice provided you are comfortable talking to them. Otherwise you could talk to a teacher, doctor, a sex counselor or a friend.
Teenage pregnancies pose a number of problems for both teenagers and their parents. One mistake by the teenagers may lead them to pay very heavily for it all their lives. They are most unlikely to finish high school or college and most of them end up depending on welfare homes. The newborns of teenage mothers have a lower birth weight. Even if they go to school, they do very poorly and are at a greater risk of abuse and neglect. Their children also do not get the right opportunities in life and may suffer the same fate as their mother. But not all teenage mothers do end up with the same fate. There are many of them who have succeeded in life through hard work, courage, dedication, and a strong support from near and dear ones.
It is advisable to prevent an unwanted pregnancy at any stage of life rather than go through the trauma of abortion or giving birth. It is the duty of parents of teenage children to keep a check and have an open relationship and communication with their children. Children should know that it is better to be safe than sorry. Educating teenager about sex is one good option but along with teaching the use of contraceptives, they should also be taught to say ‘no’ to sex and wait for the right time and choice.
The hardest part about getting pregnant is when teenagers have to break the news to their parents. They should talk to their parents and tell them that they need their parents support and help. Their parents may not take the news very well initially. But once they have settled down, teenagers can disclose their future decision regarding the pregnancy. The parents can help and let their pregnant daughter decide what decision should be taken.