The teenage years are a time for experimenting with a lot of different things. Your children will undoubtedly push you out of your comfort zone again and again. From new tastes in clothes and music to dabbling in the forbidden, teens are notoriously adventurous.
One of the more tumultuous venues is the realm of romance. Many teens will discover their first taste of a relationship during these formative years, and some teens will experience a bit more than you’re probably comfortable with—but even if you have a “live and let live” attitude, there are some facts that should supplement your outlook on sex education.
When it comes to teen pregnancy, for example, there are some risks that every parent should know about.
1. Premature Birth
Teen pregnancies carry a greater risk of premature birth, which often goes hand in hand with low birthweight. This type of birthing experience can create serious medical complications for the baby, which may end up requiring days or even weeks in a specialized ICU (intensive care unit). Premature birth can cause difficulties with learning and brain function later in life, as well as respiratory problems such as asthma.
2. Emotional C
It’s hard to go from having prom or finals as your biggest looming concerns, to worrying about how feeding and diapering a baby works. A pregnant mom-to-be may find herself feeling isolated from friends and even family, who may look down on her choices with judgment. School performance could decline, and some teens may even experience depression or other serious mental health conditions.
3. Nutritional Concerns
Teens are well known for scarfing down large volumes of junk food, but when a teen is responsible for carrying a small life, she will have to make dietary adjustments. Teens need extra encouragement to consume enough calories to maintain their health and the health of their
4. Anemia and Other Blood-related Concerns
Pregnant teens can experience a deficiency of iron and other crucial nutrients. Pregnancy can exacerbate existing genetic disorders, such as sickle cell anemia. Frequent tiredness, dizziness, and shortness of breath are all signs of anemia, a condition that can also be transferred to the baby. Teen pregnancies can also result in higher blood pressure, which in turn can contribute to premature birth.
Don’t think that just because your teenager is pregnant that she will never have sex again. She may still continue to be intimate with her partner, especially since she is at an age where tumultuous feelings are whipped into a frenzy by raging hormones. To that end, sexually transmitted diseases continue to be a risk, and even more so during pregnancy. An STD can affect the mother and her fetus, creating an extra component of risk.
6. Infant Mortality
Going beyond the pregnancy itself, young women who are just transitioning out of childhood will need guidance about how to take care of a baby. They may not know the safest way to put their baby to sleep (a hotly debated topic), how to provide their baby with adequate nutrition, or how (and when) to arrange postnatal care. Emotional challenges and social isolation can also increase the unfortunate likelihood of neonatal death.
7. Unsupportive Parents
One of the greatest risks a pregnant teenager can face is unsupportive and/or critical parents. A pregnant teen will already feel scared and confused about the reality of a young life forming within her. Some teenage girls may attempt to hide their pregnancy from their parents until they no longer can—which means that in the crucial early and formative months, they will be lacking the prenatal care they need.
As you can see, teenage pregnancy can carry some serious medical risks. Because teens are already engaged in risky behaviors, a pregnant teen will need especially loving guidance about how to address these medical concerns.
The entire pattern of their own life may change as they prepare to bring a baby into the world, and since they most likely were not expecting this to happen, they will need help staying healthy: taking vitamins, getting medical care, and dealing with emotional and physical stress.
One of your best bets for eliminating many of these problems from the get-go is to speak to your teen about sexual health, safe sex, and good nutrition.
Healthy eating habits observed by the entire family can go a long way. Creating an emotionally safe space for your teen to have a healthy relationship with parents will also help, and cut down on the likelihood of risky behaviors that can result in pregnancy in the first place.