Let’s be honest – going through a teen pregnancy is probably not going to be easy. However, it is definitely possible. Young women like you push through the trials of teen pregnancy every day. Many people say it is hard enough just being a teenager by itself – add in pregnancy and all that planning and preparing that comes with it, and it becomes even more challenging.
Let’s look at some of the most common challenging areas for someone experiencing a teen pregnancy and ways to help overcome those challenges. If you are looking for information on finding out if you’re actually pregnant, how to tell your parent(s) or boyfriend the news, your three pregnancy options, or teen pregnancy prevention, visit our Pregnant Teen article. If you’d like to learn more about healthy choices during pregnancy, visit our Healthy Teen Pregnancy page.
Life as a young pregnant teen
Though women are able to give birth as soon as they begin menstruating, there are some possible risks when you have a child early on in your teen years. These things are not guaranteed to happen, but it is a good idea to talk to your doctor about your reproductive health to know about any concerning signs or symptoms for your body. Here are a few risks that are greater if you are pregnant before the age of 15 or you do not seek prenatal care:
- low birth weight/premature birth
- anemia (low iron levels)
- high blood pressure/pregnancy-induced hypertension, PIH (can lead to preeclampsia)
- a higher rate of infant mortality (death)
- possible greater risk of cephalopelvic disproportion* (the baby’s head is wider than the pelvic opening)
Teens, in general, have a higher risk of preterm birth, which often goes along with low birth weight. Teens may also be in danger of not receiving the right amount of nutrients (such as in prenatal vitamins) during pregnancy. Regular prenatal visits, pursuing a healthy lifestyle (see our article Healthy Teen Pregnancy), and taking childbirth and parenting classes can help to reduce these risks and prepare a young mother (and/or father) for a great pregnancy, birth, and postpartum period. *This has been claimed by some studies, while also showing disproven in others. Talk to your doctor about concerns regarding an early pregnancy and pelvic underdevelopment.
Maintaining your social life during a teen pregnancy
No matter how young or old you are, relationships are always extremely important, and most people find it necessary to stay active socially. Whether these are relationships with your friends, family, or a boyfriend, they are no doubt important to you. Teen pregnancy can cause a lot of changes, such as mood swings, fatigue, and a change in what you can or cannot do.
Friends & Family
For example, you may be more tired during your pregnancy, meaning that you spend more time sleeping than seeing friends, family, or your boyfriend. To help with this, try to plan things ahead of time and budget your time. Plan short group events so that you can catch up with multiple people at the same time. You may not be able to spend as much time with each person as before, but at least you will have some time with everyone. Mood swings can cause tension in any relationship, and it’s made worse when you feel that you can’t control it! This emotional rollercoaster is fairly normal during any teen pregnancy, but your friends and boyfriend may never have been close to someone who was pregnant; they may not know what to expect. It might be a good idea to have conversations with your friends, family, and/or boyfriend and let them know that these mood swings may happen occasionally, and give them tips on how to bring you back to normal. Also, find some activities that help keep you even-tempered. Some examples include a warm bath with music, meditation, slow breathing exercises, going for a walk, etc. Teen pregnancy is hard enough, you need time to think, rejuvenate, and plan.
Going through a teen pregnancy with your boyfriend can get tricky, especially if the pregnancy was not planned. It’s likely both his and your first experience with pregnancy, and if you are early/new in your relationship, you may not already have a solid foundation to fall back on. If you’re still learning basic things about each other, pregnancy can make all of that more confusing. Plus, there may be added pressure on the relationship from thoughts like, is he going to be a good father? Or will he really stay with me? Or are we going to get married? Instead of keeping these thoughts inside and allowing them to grow and bother you, talk to someone you trust, and after taking the time to think things through, talk to your boyfriend. When talking to your boyfriend, try not to sound like you’re accusing him of anything; that will just put him on defense! Teen pregnancy is challenging whether you work together or not. Don’t judge him on his first reactions. It will be helpful to plan on multiple conversations. This will give both of you a better time to adjust to things and think through all the teen pregnancy and personal challenges you might experience.
Coexisting with your parents can be a struggle during your pregnancy as well. You may find that you’ve lost their trust, and this can put an extra strain on your relationship. Do what you can to earn their trust back in little ways during your pregnancy. Keep track of your vitamins, doctor’s appointments, and parenting classes so that your parents don’t have to remind you. Do something extra around the house to let them know you are thinking of them. And above all else, be truthful with them! It’s easier to lose trust than to build it back up. On the flip side, your parents may feel overbearing because they want to make sure you and the baby are okay. Speak up calmly if you feel the need, but know that they are doing this because they care. Some discover that during a teen pregnancy, their parents speak out against the pregnancy and look not to continue it, and some may even kick you out of the house. If this is the case, know that there is help out there for you. Call us at 1-800-672-2296 to find a local pregnancy center or maternity home for assistance.
Attending high school or college as a pregnant teen
If you are in high school, you probably have a lot of questions about how your life will look now and after you have the baby. Right now, you may have to miss school here and there for doctor’s appointments and check-ups. Maybe you have a lot of symptoms (like morning sickness) that cause you to be tardy or have to run out of class. Perhaps you’re scared that you might have to drop your favorite sport or activity. Or, you’re wondering what in the world you’re supposed to do when your due date approaches; can you deliver your baby and still keep up on schoolwork? This will take a lot of communication between you, your parents, your school leadership, your teachers, and your doctor. You may need doctor’s notes to excuse you from class or to have special bathroom privileges. Your doctor may tell you that your sport is not safe during pregnancy. If your due date is during the school year, you may need to make up time in summer school or do extra work ahead of time. It’s possible that your school already has a plan for those with teen pregnancy, so the first thing to do is ask. Talk to your counselor, your principal, and then your teachers. If things don’t work out with your current school, you may want to look into schools specifically designed for those with teen pregnancy. This way the curriculum and timing are made just for you and you can still finish high school. If your pregnancy is high-risk or you do not feel that you can handle schoolwork, you may want to look into classes towards earning your GED on your own time. Once you’ve graduated, you can look into applying to colleges. If you choose adoption, you will be relatively back to normal again after 9 months and able to continue, perhaps, as planned. If you decide to parent your child, you’ll want to think about how much time you can devote to school, a job, and being with your child. Many colleges offer some type of child care program, and if you go to a school nearby, you may be able to work childcare out with your parents (if they are willing).
If you are in college already, you will want to plan ahead. Do you need to take a semester off? What kind of childcare does the college offer? Can you keep up a job along with classes? How will you pay for classes/will your parents continue to pay for your schooling? If you’re pregnant and already into a semester, try adding a job and see how you can manage your time and to see if you can earn enough money to provide for a child. If you plan to stay with your partner, he will need to figure out some earning possibilities too. Talk to your college about options for pregnant students/students with children. Ask questions early; the more you know, the more possibilities are open to you. It will not be easy, especially when you are dealing with being pregnant and the symptoms that come with it, or after pregnancy when you have a newborn. However, there are ways that you can stay in college classes and graduate. Women like you do it every day!
After a teen pregnancy: providing for your newborn
Finding a job during pregnancy or as a mom may be difficult, but definitely not impossible. If you don’t already have a job, you will want to find something that can work with your schedule (around your doctor’s appointments and/or school) and does not involve any heavy lifting or chemical exposure, as these are not safe during pregnancy. When your due date approaches, you’ll want to communicate a plan for time off. Hopefully, your job will work with you. Remember that in many states it is illegal to fire or When your due date approaches, you’ll want to communicate a plan for time off. Hopefully, your job will work with you. Remember that in many states it is illegal to fire or lay off an employee due to pregnancy or medical leave. If this happens, you may want to look at your state’s labor laws and consult a lawyer. Providing for a newborn can mean financial budgeting or difficulty. If you are struggling, know that there are temporary assistance programs out there like housing assistance, financial assistance, food stamps, WIC, Medicaid for you/your baby, and many other programs to support citizens in times of need.
Budgeting and helpful tips
You’ll want to learn about how to budget as well, and this can save you a lot of money. Put your paychecks toward the most important things first: rent, utilities, medical care, food, and your baby’s needs. Here are some tips:
- Make a BUDGET. Figure out what money you bring in each month, and from there you will see how much you can spend on each thing. It’s the little things that can add up and end up leaving you with no money at the end of the month: that unplanned trip to Subway, a [decaf] fancy drink at Starbucks… So, know how much you can spend, and don’t go over!
- Start couponing! There are coupons in magazines, weekly ads, and a ton more online. The trick with couponing is that you never want to buy something just because you have a coupon for it; only clip coupons for things you already need and buy.
- Figure out how much things such as baby formula/food and diapers/wipes cost per week and month, and buy when there are sales! A lot of women ask for diapers of all sizes for their baby shower gifts, so especially if money is tight, consider doing this.
- You will have to cut back on unnecessary habits – hair and nail appointments, eating at restaurants, new clothes (unless necessary for work, or shop at a thrift store), trips, days at the spa, etc. Of course, there are special occasions, and you’ll need to relax sometimes. When you do “treat yourself,” use coupons or gift cards that you get for holidays or your baby shower.
- Go off-brand. You can save a bunch on your grocery trips if you choose non-brand name items, and always look for what’s on sale!
- Shop at a discount store – they often have similar items but at lower prices.
All of these challenges above are not going to be easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible for you! It is important to remember that there are resources, help, and support for you. Keep yourself close to positive, supportive people, and you will be able to push through and become a part of the growing community of teen moms. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There may be a lot of people in your life that want to help you, but just don’t know how. If a friend, boyfriend, or family member can come with you or drive you to doctor’s appointments, you’ll have someone to lean on for support. Maybe a mentor can help you find a budget or connect you with parenting classes and resources.
Need help or more information about teen pregnancy?
If you have questions or need someone to talk to about your options or struggles during a teen pregnancy, please feel free to call our helpline at 1-800-672-2296. Our team of Pregnancy Educators is standing by to listen and help you through the challenging times in your pregnancy.
Want to Know More?
Compiled using information from the following sources:
1. Mayo Clinic: Tween and Teen Health
2. Youth.gov: Teen Pregnancy Adverse Effects
3. Kawakita T, et. al. Adverse Maternal and Neonatal Outcomes in Adolescent Pregnancy. Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Pregnancy. April 2016. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpag.2015.08.006
4. Perry, RL; Mannino, B; Hediger, M; Scholl, T. Pregnancy in Early Adolescence: Are There Obstetric Risks? Journal of Maternal Fetal Medicine. 13 Jan 1996.
5. Sulaiman, S; Othman, S; Razali, N; Hassan, J. Obstetric and Perinatal Outcome in Teenage Pregnancies: Research. South African Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Jan 2013. doi: 10.7196/SAJOG.679
6. Grover, N, and Sandhu, K. Teenage Pregnancy: Too Much Too Soon. South Asian Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Sept 2009.