Teenage pregnancy: A parent's guide
What you need to know:
- As a parent, you can feel frustrated that your teen is pregnant at a young age. However, even though the experience may be frustrating and overwhelming, be patient and encourage your daughter that it will be okay. She needs your support.
The teenage years are a time of change and growth. Unfortunately, it is also during this time that many teens make mistakes that can have lasting effects on their future.
It is a parent's responsibility to ensure that a teenager is informed about sex and birth control to reduce the chances of pregnancy.
However, in case teenage pregnancy becomes an issue you have to deal with, you should know what to do during the gestation period and after birth to help your teen prepare for their new baby.
The teenage years are a time of many firsts, and it will be no different for your daughter. The bane that every girl faces at this age is the dreaded prospect of pregnancy.
It would be best if you talked about sex education, hygiene, pregnancy, labor, and birth so she can fully understand what's happening to her body before life throws all those curveballs.
Identify with their fears rather than shove knowledge down their throats without giving consideration to how these daunting topics may affect them emotionally if not given enough space or opportunity beforehand.
Many children are often exposed to a lot of information due to internet usage, among other factors.
However, you can ensure their safety by being a parent who protects their child from misinformation and abuse through conversation early on teen sex.
Teen contraceptive use in Kenya
Contraceptives reduce the risk of unintended pregnancies and abortions; but despite known benefits, adolescent girls in Kenya have lower rates of usage than other sexually active age groups.
Recent data shows links this to high poverty rates and misconceptions about the use of contraceptives.
How to care for your pregnant teen
Make sure your teen has a healthy diet
A pregnant teen should have a balanced diet with plenty of protein, vegetables, and dairy products. Your pediatrician will recommend an appropriate diet based on your daughter's age, weight, and pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure. In addition, ask them about getting calcium from other foods besides milk products (such as dark green leafy veggies) which can be better for your daughter's bones and teeth.
Encourage them to get plenty of sleep
A pregnant teen needs at least eight hours of sleep per night. It is also vital for your daughter to nap during the day if she feels tired or has trouble sleeping at night, as this can help her feel better and avoid excessive fatigue that might lead to accidents or injuries.
Provide positive feedback and encouragement
As a parent, you can feel frustrated that your teen is pregnant at a young age. However, even though the experience may be frustrating and overwhelming, be patient and encourage your daughter that it will be okay. She needs your support.
Give them space to make their own decisions, but still, provide guidance when needed
Help your daughter make decisions about her pregnancy by guiding them when they need it, but allow for autonomy. The more she feels that she has decision-making power throughout this journey, the more she will feel happier with the experience that awaits her in motherhood.
Prenatal health visits and doctor checkups
Your daughter will need to have regular prenatal visits with her doctor. Make sure she keeps all appointments and follows the advice of their doctor while pregnant. Signing up for a family healthcare plan can also be helpful as it covers more than just pregnancy-related expenses such as dental, vision, or mental healthcare. Get your daughter a health care plan as soon as possible, so she has coverage.
Prepare her for pregnancy, labor, and after birth
Your daughter may have questions about what to expect or how it will feel during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. The more you can provide guidance and support, the better your teen will feel about their pregnancy experience. Additionally, make sure they know what to expect during labor and delivery so that it is not a complete surprise for them when it happens. There are many things that she needs to know about being a mom before her baby arrives. Likewise, your teenager should be informed about breastfeeding; caring for newborns; what medicines to take while nursing or pregnant; and vaccinations.
Teenage pregnancy is a complex process for many reasons. However, it's important to remember there are ways you can help your teen parent overcome these challenges. First, with the increase in postnatal depression, ensure the young mother gets enough rest and eating a balanced diet. Second, watch out for any sign of postnatal depression and know when to seek professional help. Finally, be there for your daughter. She needs you now more than ever.