How to Support a Pregnant Teenager

What are the differences between a pregnant teenager and a pregnant adult woman? How can we help these teenage mother-to-be? In this article, we give you some guidelines.
How to Support a Pregnant Teenager

Last update: 30 August, 2021

Supporting a pregnant teenager involves being a source of help both during the gestational period and the postpartum period. In fact, one of the great challenges that both a pregnant adolescent and the adults around her have to face is the development and preparation of her future role as a mother. Added to this is the task of reconciling herself to the other, more usual aspects of being an adolescent.

A pregnant adolescent experiences greater problems than a pregnant adult woman. These usually involve economic, social, and family factors. In addition, those related to independence.

Depression and anxiety in a pregnant teenager

Teenager with pregnancy test

A pregnant teenager is more susceptible to developing mood disorders. These are largely due to hormonal changes associated with the specific stage of pregnancy. However, changes at the hormonal level aren’t the only cause for the development of certain disorders, such as anxiety and depression.

As a rule, teenage pregnancy is often both unwanted and high risk. Added to this are the financial difficulties. This is because they’re usually dependent upon their parents or guardians. Furthermore, there might be value judgments of other adults (especially family members and other close friends), not to mention the opinions of their peer group.

In addition, if the adolescent has a partner, the risk of instability in the relationship is usually higher than in adulthood. These external circumstances increase the risk of them developing mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression.

Emotional disorders and their consequences

Anxiety and depression during pregnancy are risk factors for the development of other disorders in the postpartum period. The levels of anxiety and depression in a pregnant adolescent are also associated with complications in childbirth, damage to the development of the fetus, and behavioral problems in childhood and adolescence.

What’s more, persistent depression increases the likelihood of developmental delays, lower IQs, and violent behaviors in their children. In this sense, each circumstantial component plays an important role.

Key Ideas for Supporting a Pregnant Teen

A pregnant teenager often needs emotional support. As a matter of fact, there are always certain skills required concerning the care of both pregnant mothers and their babies. However, as a rule, adolescents don’t possess these abilities.

Pregnancy always means change, both in the present moment and in the future. With this in mind, here are a number of ideas to help support a pregnant teenager.

Value judgments don’t help

Often, the first obstacle a pregnant teenager encounters is the opinions of others. Adults, especially those closest to them, can transmit a good deal of insecurity by questioning the teen’s readiness for her future role as a mother.

Furthermore, judgemental behavior is a form of conduct not only exhibited by adults but also by other teenagers. One of the things that can help to achieve some emotional balance at this time would be to have an adult who inspires confidence in the teenage mother-to-be. Indeed, it’s extremely important that adults help rather than hinder the situation. It’s only natural that their expectations were probably different from the situation they now find themselves facing. However, it’s not possible to turn back time and regrets and criticism are of little use.

Teach self-care skills

A pregnant teenager, like any woman in her first pregnancy, will have many doubts about her own and her baby’s care. Attachment figures at this time play an especially relevant role, especially if these figures are experienced women and are close to the teenager’s family.

The pregnant teenager needs a person who calms their worries about the future and who teaches them certain strategies of basic care. This will alleviate their feelings of hopelessness and loneliness in the face of their new responsibilities. At the same time, it’s important to teach a pregnant adolescent certain eating and weight-maintaining habits for a healthy pregnancy.

Provide a safe environment to talk about their fears

A pregnant teenager requires help

Women who are pregnant may show certain symptoms of anxiety in the late second trimester. That’s because, at this stage, the pregnancy becomes more evident, which means the woman herself also perceives the impending birth as more of a reality. 

Adult women are more likely to find a space in which to talk about their fears from the outset of their pregnancy. The most common worries tend to be associated with the birth process, possible complications, low birth weight, breastfeeding, etc. However, a pregnant adolescent is more likely not to be listened to when she conveys these fears. In addition, it’s more difficult for the environment to take her preferences into account.

As a matter of fact, the pregnant teenager may not feel safe communicating these types of concerns to others. For this reason, adults may need to take the initiative in initiating these types of conversations.

In short, a pregnant teenager will require more care than a pregnant adult woman. In this respect, the social and family context are of paramount importance. They can provide help regarding certain prejudices that the adolescent may face. Furthermore, they can help them with their physical changes and their concerns associated with their new responsibilities. Indeed, the support of adults and loved ones is essential in order that the teenager may develop the necessary self-care skills for both herself and her baby.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.