Teenage pregnancies

    • Brief

    • Teenage pregnancies can be a source of stress for the teenage girl and her family. This is because of the judgement, bias and lack of community support she is likely to experience. This usually comes from the socio-cultural roles the community assigns, often unjustly to women and girls. Hostile attitudes and actions towards pregnant, unmarried young women make it more difficult for the pregnant teen to get access to medical and social care needed at this important time of her life.

      A pregnant teen, much like a pregnant adult, experiences changes in her body and the expectations of society around her. The amount of blood in her body will increase, her appetite may be slightly increased, her belly appears to grow and so much more. These changes are normal. Antenatal care, education and support will be provided to ensure her health and her baby’s.

      Her community may look down on a young pregnant women, which may cause feelings of rejection, and the girl may isolate herself. Teenage pregnancy can seriously affect a girl’s academic possibilities and her future in general. Apart from social consequences, there are health risks that teenage pregnant girls face.

    • What are the risks of teenage pregnancy?

      • Emotional turmoil is a big problem, especially in teens who cannot talk to their parents openly about their pregnancy.
      • Lack of access to antenatal care increases the likelihood that a healthcare provider will not identify pregnancy problems (in mother or child) early.
      • In young teens, there is a higher possibility of increased blood pressure than in adults.
      • Teenage pregnancy more often lead to premature birth than in adults.
      • Low birthweight babies are more common in teenage pregnancies. This may cause health risks for the child in later life.
      • Depression after delivery is also be a risk in teenage mothers. And this can reduce how well the teenage mother can take care of her newborn and themselves.
    • Why register for antenatal services?

    • Register to attend antenatal services at your community Primary Healthcare Centre. It is free for all registered expectant mothers in Nigeria. Do this before you are 12 weeks pregnant (first trimester). This will give you access to services such as HIV tests, counselling, education and medicines to prevent a malaria infection.

      You should not use drugs or alcohol when you are pregnant. You should also not use medications without a prescription from your healthcare provider. Medicines and drugs may interfere with your baby’s development.

    • When should you see a healthcare provider?

      • You should seek immediate medical attention if you see blood from your vagina while you are pregnant. This may be a sign of spontaneous abortion or an ectopic pregnancy.
      • If you feel like vomiting a lot or actually do vomiting a lot, especially after the first three months of your pregnancy.  You should go to your healthcare provider immediately if this happens together with pain, fever, diarrhoea or dizziness.
      • If you feel low or depressed or if you have any other emotional problems. If you do not have emotional support from family and friends, your healthcare provider may be able to help you seek mental support.
    • What can make teenage pregnancy more difficult?

      • Premature birth. Your baby will be be (very) small at birth which may lead to health problems in the child's later life.
      • High blood pressure and convulsions. This can be dangerous to you and your baby's health.
      • Not having enough red blood cells in your blood to carry oxygen to your body's cells (anaemia).
      • Loss of blood after delivery (postpartum haemorrhage).
      • If you have been sexually very active before or during pregnancy, your risk of a sexually transmitted infections may be higher and the infection may be passed on to your baby.
    • Kulawa Cares

    • Teenagers who do not know how to use a contraceptive properly may, as  a result, become pregnant. Ask your healthcare provider (or pharmacy) to instruct you on proper contraceptive choice and use. You may consider long-acting contraceptives if you are a teenager.

      Ask for help during your pregnancy from family, friends or your healthcare provider when you need it. If possible, involve your partner with planning for the baby. This can help you reduce mental stress and improve how well you fare during pregnancy, delivery and afterwards.

      Try to complete your education and seek to improve your and your baby's life and wellbeing. You need to be able to cater for your baby’s needs.