Teenage mothers-to-be are more likely to experience premature labor and/or have an underweight baby.
Good nutrition and antenatal care are crucial during pregnancy, especially for teenage mothers who are still growing and need extra care. However, many teenagers are too scared to tell their parents when they suspect they may be pregnant, which can result in months of neglect for both the mother and the unborn baby. A teenage mother is effectively a child having a baby, and needs special care and attention to ensure the best possible outcome for both her and her child.
Here are some of the risks for teenage pregnancies:
Inadequate pre-natal care
According to recent studies, many teenage girls do not get the proper pre-natal care during the initial stages of their first trimester. This lack of care can often lead to negative consequences for both the mother and child later on. As a result, it’s important for teenage girls to be aware of the importance of pre-natal care and to make sure they’re getting the help they need from qualified professionals in order to ensure a healthy pregnancy.
It’s important to have regular checkups with a GP early on to not only screen for potential medical issues with both the mother and baby, but also to monitor the baby’s growth. This way, doctors can identify and address any possible complications as quickly as possible.
Many teenagers have an unhealthy diet, consuming too many takeaways and high salt, high sugar foods. Prenatal vitamins with folic acid would help prevent certain birth defects, more so than any other pregnancy age group.
Women should ideally take prenatal vitamins before getting pregnant and then throughout their pregnancy, but as most teenage pregnancies are unplanned, this seldom happens.
Anemia (low iron levels in the blood) is more common among teenage mothers.
High blood pressure
Teenage mums-to-be who are pregnant have a greater chance of developing high blood pressure (hypertension) and pre-eclampsia. If left unchecked, these conditions can lead to a premature birth (or early induction for the sake of the mother) which in turn increases the baby’s risk of respiratory, digestive, vision, cognitive, and other health problems.
STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases)
STDs such as Chlamydia and HIV are more common among teenagers who have active sex lives.
These infections can cross the placenta infecting the baby during pregnancy.
Other STDs like gonorrhea, Chlamydia, hepatitis B, and genital herpes can be passed on to the baby during a vaginal delivery.
Babies can suffer serious conditions if they contract an STD, including conjunctivitis, neurologic damage, hepatitis, meningitis, blindness, deafness, chronic liver disease, and cirrhosis.
Being a teenager and pregnant can be a scary and daunting experience. Many worry about how they will cope with labor and motherhood as well as telling anyone about their pregnancy. It is important to seek support from professionals and loved ones to help get through this tough time.
Pregnant teenagers are more likely to neglect themselves without parental, adult or medical support. They may lack sufficient nutrients, or be unfit through a lack of exercise or insufficient rest.
All of these can lead to higher risks of developing the baby blues or full-blown postnatal depression for teenagers.
Debra Aspinall is an experienced journalist and has been the editor and leading writer for the Emma’s Diary website for many years – one of the UK’s most popular pregnancy and baby websites. Debra writes on pregnancy topics such as pregnancy weeks, having a baby, getting pregnant and more. She also has experience writing on women’s health and beauty issues, and has even contributed travel articles to glossy magazines in both London and the Home Counties!