Teen pregnancy support comes in many forms, from emotional to financial. Young mothers face many challenging decisions, starting with whether or not to keep the baby. Teens often lack the resources to achieve a healthy pregnancy if they do decide to carry the child. Seeking out support during pregnancy can make a major difference in the outcome of the pregnancy and the teen’s future life.
A trusted adult can offer a crucial source of emotional support for a pregnant teen. Whether a parent or another adult, seeking this support can help the teen plan the next steps in her pregnancy. Support from a professional counselor helps teens who experience severe emotional or mental difficulties in dealing with the pregnancy, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Regular therapy sessions can help the teen deal with the situation while pregnant, deciding whether to continue the pregnancy and after the baby is born.
Teens often lack the financial means to cover prenatal care costs and to support the baby after she is born. Pregnant teens can get the care they need from the state’s Department of Human Services’ financial programs. The Women, Infants and Children federal program offers nutritional information and a monthly healthy-food stipend for expecting women who qualify. These programs offset the costs a teen incurs to have a healthy pregnancy.
Prenatal care is essential to a healthy pregnancy, but many pregnant teens don’t have access to medical care. A teen without health insurance may qualify for Medicaid to cover the prenatal care expenses. State requirements vary, so contact the local Medicaid office to determine your eligibility.
Health centers funded by the federal government are another option for low-cost health care. The centers charge fees based on income to make health care affordable and accessible to limiited-income teens without health insurance. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers a search function to locate these clinics in your area.
Most teens, even those who choose to keep the baby, lack necessary parenting skills. Prenatal and parenting classes prepare a pregnant teen for some of the situations they will encounter, including what to expect during the labor and delivery. Parenting classes focus more on necessary parenting and coping skills. Most hospitals offer parenting classes. Look for a class created specifically for teens to get more relevant content.
A pregnant teen faces the decision of whether or not to keep her baby. Support in that decision helps the teen make a decision she can live with and and helps her deal with the consequences of that decision. The options for a pregnant teen include terminating the pregnancy with an abortion or carrying it to term and giving birth. Women’s reproductive health centers and national groups like Planned Parenthood offer information, support and multiple services, including surgical abortion and the “abortion pill.” Teens who choose to give birth then must decide if they will give the baby up for adoption or raise the baby themselves. A teen who decides to raise the baby may receive help from the baby’s father, her own parents or another family member.
A strong support system in all areas increases the teen’s chances of continuing on a successful path in life even with the pregnancy. Education and vocational programs for teen mothers support the ability to keep a job or continue schooling. Friends and family to help watch the baby make the transition easier. Asking for and accepting help is key for teen moms.