Health and Mind: National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month

Published 1:30 pm Tuesday, May 9, 2023

By Kayla Walton

Clark County Health Department

May is recognized as National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month. While pregnancy and adolescence each have their challenges, pregnancy during adolescence is exceptionally and uniquely difficult. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Pregnancy Association have a few tips on managing the physical and emotional strain during this time.

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Being upfront with parents, the father of the baby and even friends is beneficial in gaining support for teen mothers. Family members, friends and the baby’s father will likely need time to process this unexpected news. Honestly, sharing the pregnancy news will be difficult at first, but it provides time for everyone to accept the changes that will be coming and to make a plan to deal with challenges that will arise.

Maintaining grades and keeping up with schoolwork will be much more challenging during pregnancy. Communication with teachers or college professors is essential to keeping up with academics. It can be beneficial to discuss with teachers or professors about making up for class time and assignments missed for doctor’s appointments and also to plan what will happen during the delivery and postpartum period. Guidance counselors and family resource officers are also helpful in making academic plans during pregnancy and checking in on the teen parents’ emotional and mental well-being.

Social activities, which are an essential priority for most teenagers, will also be impacted by an unplanned pregnancy. Fatigue, nausea, and mood swings can affect friendships and a teenager’s ability to participate in certain activities. A pregnant mother may not feel like doing everything her friends are doing, which may create tension in friendships and feelings of being left out. Planning for activities and budgeting your time and energy appropriately will be necessary. Deciding on the activities and social aspects that are most valuable will help a pregnant teen to keep up a social life without leaving her feeling overwhelmed.

Lastly, finances can be one of the most stressful pieces of an unplanned teen pregnancy. Many teen mothers are concerned about how they will provide for their child, and many components play a part in this concern. Sometimes family members are able to financially support the pregnant teen, which can alleviate the pressures to find a job soon after the baby’s birth, provide housing, and other critical responsibilities. However, for pregnant teens without much family support, there are other resources to help provide financially for the mother and her baby. WIC (Women, Infants and Children) is a national program that can provide money for purchasing food and formula up until the child is five years old and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits can provide funds for food purchasing for low-income families. The USDA Rural Development and U.S. Housing and Urban Development and the Winchester Housing Authority can be a resource for assisting with housing for teen parents if needed. Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) are available to provide medical insurance for low-income families, including teen parents. Kentucky’s Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) can help parents pay for child care. Other community programs such as HANDS through the health department educate parents on caring for your child, how to bond with your baby, support a child’s brain development and emotional health and create safe and healthy homes. Additional information on these resources can be found at the Clark County Health Department.