Teenagers face issues that require them to make costly decisions each and every day. While some risky behaviors such as teen overdoses are on the rise, others, like teen pregnancy, are actually declining.
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In 2016, the teen birth rate in the United States dropped 9 percent compared to the previous year. Experts believe this record low for teens having babies will continue to be a long-term trend.
Even though the number of pregnant teens is on the decline, teenage pregnancy continues to be a significant issue facing families, schools and the medical community. Being a mother requires patience and the ability to manage the stress that comes with having a baby.
Many teens typically lack the skills needed to handle a pregnancy and motherhood. This lack of emotional maturity makes a teen mom, and their baby, more susceptible to other health risks.
Too often, teens do not seek adequate medical care during their pregnancy, which can result in moderate to severe complications. The more common medical complications that may occur during a teen pregnancy include anemia, toxemia, high blood pressure, placenta previa and premature birth of the baby.
Teen pregnancy may impact the baby's growth and development over time. Experts cite delays in intellectual and motor development, and more ongoing medical and behavioral issues in babies born to teen mothers. Ongoing medical care is crucial to prevent these complications from threatening the pregnancy and the mother's well being.
Worries About the Future
Uncertainty about the future may arise when a teen is pregnant. A teen may feel she does not have enough knowledge to be a mother. She may also have fears about how having a baby will impact her own life and dreams for the future.
These worries and concerns can increase if a pregnant teen is also struggling with conflicting emotions of not wanting the baby. This situation may lead to rash behavior such as attempting to self-abort the baby or a suicide attempt.
Education may be put on hold when a teen becomes pregnant. Some pregnant teens may decide to leave high school or finish school at an alternative site. If a teen has goals of attending college after high school, those plans may be put on hold after becoming pregnant. And instead, the new mom may decide to focus on the baby or getting married rather than pursuing further education.
Smoking & Drugs
Smoking and drug use may be problematic during a teen pregnancy. A teen may not have the willpower to stop using substances that can harm the developing baby.
Exhaustion may arise during a pregnancy. A pregnant teen should try to exercise during the pregnancy. However, if exhaustion arises, it is important to know that this is often a normal part of pregnancy. Getting the standard eight hours of sleep (or more) every night is important.
Many moms get the "baby blues" during the weeks and months after giving birth. While these emotional ups and downs can be difficult to manage, they typically subside. However, being a teen mom comes with a greater risk of being diagnosed with depression during pregnancy and post-partum depression after giving birth.
The reasons teen moms are at-risk of developing depression vary. Some may for fall into a depression while trying to handle the emotions a pregnancy creates and all of the possible negative feedback about the pregnancy from friends and family. While others will develop post-partum depression as a result of the significant emotional and physical demands of caring for a new baby.
Neglect of Baby
Once the baby is born, teenagers may not be willing or able to give their child the undivided attention it needs. A teen may not have all the tools necessary to be an adequate mother, which can lead to feeling overwhelmed by the constant needs of the baby. Additionally, some teens may grow annoyed at the lack of freedom to interact with their peer group due to the baby.
Trouble With Finances
Financial difficulties start to surface the closer a pregnant teen gets to the baby's due date. Often, the high cost of raising a child becomes more apparent after delivery and continues as the teen mom tries to figure out how to make ends meet. Teens who do not have full-time employment may struggle to cover the basic expenses of life upon having a baby.