Teenage Pregnancy - Introduction

Teen pregnancy is a sensitive issue with a lot of reasons for concerns. It is defined as a teenaged or under aged girl (mostly ages between 13-19 years old) becoming pregnant. Young adolescents are more vulnerable to have unplanned sexual intercourse and more likely to be coerced into sex.

Teenage Pregnancy Statistics In Australia

Teenage Pregnancy

Teenage Pregnancy - Introduction

In Australia, teen pregnancy rate has decreased over the last 10 years, mostly due to the increased use of condoms. The fertility rate of teenagers in 2008 was 17.3 births per 1000 women compared to 55.5 births per 1000 women in 1971.

In Australia, the birth rate per 1000 women (ages 15 – 19 years old) is 20.1 compared to the abortion rate which is 23.9 per 1000 women (ages 15 – 19 years old. The combined rate is 44 percent. However, teenage mothers who do give birth are more likely to keep their baby than having it adopted. The positive change in social attitude as well as government assistance mean parenting is more acceptable option for teenage pregnant mothers.

How To Prevent Teenage Pregnancy?

  • Peer counselling programs usually involve older teens who encourage other adolescents to stand firm against peer and social pressure to become sexually involved.
  • Sex education in schools. Teenagers will have knowledge about their bodies and their normal functions, as well as provide significant information about contraceptives and preventing STDs.
  • Abstinence education teaches young adolescents to resist sexual activity until marriage, or until they are at anage to handle sexual activity, family or motherhood in a responsible manner.

What Factors Predisposes Young Women To Teenage Pregnancy?

  1. Less involvement in school activities
  2. Single parents
  3. Family problems with regular conflict between members
  4. Low self esteem
  5. Undisclosed same sex attraction
  6. In some societies, early marriage and traditional gender roles
  7. Trauma and sexual abuse during childhood (11 to 20 percent of teen pregnancies are a direct result of rape)

Things To Do To Promote Well Being

  • Take prenatal vitamins such as folic acid and iron for your own benefit and to prevent some birth defects.
  • If you are still active in sexual intercourse, suggest a condom to your partner to prevent sexually transmitted diseases that could harm your baby.
  • Avoid cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption and drug intake.

How To Prevent Teenage Pregnancy?

  • Peer counselling programs usually involve older teens who encourage other adolescents to stand firm against peer and social pressure to become sexually involved.
  • Sex education in schools. Teenagers will have knowledge about their bodies and their normal functions, as well as provide significant information about contraceptives and preventing STDs.
  • Abstinence education teaches young adolescents to resist sexual activity until marriage, or until they are at anage to handle sexual activity, family or motherhood in a responsible manner.

What factors predisposes young women to teenage pregnancy?

  1. Less involvement in school activities
  2. Single parents
  3. Family problems with regular conflict between members
  4. Low self esteem
  5. Undisclosed same sex attraction
  6. In some societies, early marriage and traditional gender roles
  7. Trauma and sexual abuse during childhood (11 to 20 percent of teen pregnancies are a direct result of rape)

Things To Do To Promote Well Being

  • Take prenatal vitamins such as folic acid and iron for your own benefit and to prevent some birth defects.
  • If you are still active in sexual intercourse, suggest a condom to your partner to prevent sexually transmitted diseases that could harm your baby.
  • Avoid cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption and drug intake.

Disadvantages Of Teenage Pregnancy

A teenage mother is at risk for complications during pregnancy because of under developed physical features, lack of health care knowledge, lack of support from parents and relatives, unhealthy diet, exposure to cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, and illegal drugs.

Teenage pregnancy is making the mother and baby more at risk with pregnancy complications such as pregnancy-induced hypertension, placenta previa, anemia, and toxemia. It also risks the baby with premature birth which plays a role in low birth weight.

Abortion

This is a very difficult period for a teenager and might see abortion as the only way out. In Australia, abortion is legal if carrying on would do harm to theteen mother.There are things to be considered in abortions like age, family, personal beliefs, how the young adolescent perceives her pregnancy and how far the pregnancy has progressed.

If the pregnant girl has chosen an abortion when she really wants to keep the baby, there is a high possibility of emotional problems after the termination. She is more likely to have another pregnancy at a young age.

This procedure should be discussed with the doctor. Abortion is usually available up to 12 weeks but may be done up to 22 weeks. Young adolescents are often not sure and need support from family and loved ones through this stage of decision-making.

Contraception

Another problem with teenage pregnancy is the lack of knowledge of, or access to, usual methods of preventing conception, as they may be too embarrassed to seek information from health care providers, teachers, etc. They are also influenced by negative stories shared by friends as well as the media about methods of contraception, such as having side-effects (e.g weight gain, acne, etc.). In some cases, contraception proves to be inadequate. Inexperienced adolescents may use condoms incorrectly or forget to take oral contraceptives causing contraception failure.

Population education in schools can be useful to young adolescents to have knowledge about their bodies and their normal functions. The simultaneous use of more than one contraceptives measure significantly decreases the risk of unplanned pregnancy, and if one is a condom barrier method, the transmission of sexually transmitted disease is also decreased.

Keeping The Baby

To keep the baby, the young woman should take consideration of the support available from family, friends, financial, emotional, physical, etc; the teen mother’s belief that she is able to care for her baby, the willingness to participate in the promotion of her health for a safe pregnancy and the readiness of the baby’s father.

Teenage Father

Teenage pregnancy also affects young fathers who need counselling and support together with his partner. Young men may need help to accept the situation and support the young woman’s right to decide to carry on with pregnancy and what her choice means for him.

The young partners may need to talk about the situation they are in, and how to deal with family and friend’s responses. If the young woman decides to keep the baby it raises the issues of what involvement he wants and his legal obligation to help support his child. If his name is on the birth certificate of the baby, then he will be liable to help support the baby financially.

If a young man is doubtful that he is the father, he may consult a legal advice (e.g In South Australia from Legal Services Commission ph: 8205 0155). A DNA test is also possible to check if he is really the father of the baby.