Health Needs for Teenage Pregnancies
What are the special needs of teenagers who are pregnant? Certainly the fact that an expectant mother in her teens is quite different than a married woman in her mid-twenties in terms of the psychology — and the physical needs — of her condition, and so there are things a pregnant teenager needs that are likely different from a mature woman. This paper delves into those special needs and basic situations that teenagers face when pregnant.
The Healthcare Needs of Pregnant Teenagers
First of all, according to Tricia Michels, writing in Public Health Reports, pregnant teens are already facing “stigmatization in many aspect of their lives” just by the mere fact that they are pregnant and all their friends are living normal teenage lives (Michels, 2000, p. 557). Hence, tending to their new unborn babies is another challenge that must be approached with intelligence and good planning. Michels interviewed forty teenagers who were pregnant and one of the themes that came from those interviews is that “providers and healthcare systems” should be willing to “combat” the “negative [social] influences” surrounding the pregnancies (557).
Michels’ article also points to the attention the teenager must have if she is in a low-income situation; her needs extend “beyond prenatal care,” Michels explains. There will be a need for the focus to be on the “â€¦needs of the fetusâ€¦to the exclusion of the needs of the young mother” (557). On the subject of low-income expectant mothers, Michels makes the point that the baby and mom need reliable connections to healthcare services (for physical health), to social services (for mental health), to family planning services (to learn about the importance of breastfeeding) and the low-income pregnant teen should know that Medicaid provides financial support for her prenatal care (Michels, 558).
Other financial support is available through the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ (HHS); in fact the HHS’ “Office of Adolescent Health” has financial support available through the “Pregnancy Assistance Fund” that can help meet the needs of a pregnant teenager. The support provided includes help with: “education, healthcare, parenting skills and additional supports that they need” (HHS).
Meanwhile pregnancy during adolescence “â€¦raises a number of nutritional concerns,” according to C.S. Williamson with the British Nutrition Foundation (Williamson, 2006). Teenage girls often have “low intakes of a range of nutrients” that are vital during pregnancy; those nutrients include “â€¦folate, calcium, and iron,” and should be taken as supplements, Williamson explains (31). The studies Williamson has referenced show that “moderate exercise” — including aerobics — engaged in by the teenage mother “helps improve or maintain physical fitness and body image” (31). Swimming, walking, and other moderate exercise is important for the adolescent who is pregnant, Williamson explains.
An article in the peer-reviewed journal Health & Social Work notes that “without effective [medical] intervention” during her pregnancy a teen may have to deal with a “low-birthweight baby,” in addition to the possibility that without healthcare leadership and counseling after the birth her child could suffer from “â€¦abuse and neglect” (Rosell, et al., 2010). “Mentoring and guidance are intrinsic” to the care that the Tandem Teen Prenatal and Parenting Program provides for low-income and minority teens who are expecting a baby.
In conclusion, Bridget Coila writes in that anemia (low levels of iron) is a complication that can (and does) affect the health of the teenage mother-to-be. Also, “pregnancy induced hypertension” (also called preeclampsia) is a “dangerous complication that affects teenage pregnant women more than older pregnant women” (Coila, 2010). When a pregnant teen develops preeclampsia she can experience “dangerously high blood pressure” which in time can lead to “organ damage, seizures, coma and death,” according to the Mayo Clinic (Coila, p. 1). This problem is serious, and like the other issues referred to in this paper, it can be avoided if the teenage mother-to-be has access to quality prenatal healthcare services.
Coila, Bridget. (2010). Health Risks for Pregnant Teens. Livestrong.com. Retrieved December
13, 2012, from http://www.livestrong.com.
Michels, Tricia M. (2000). “Patients Like Us”: Pregnant and Parenting Teens View the Health
Care System. Public Health Reports, Volume 115, 557-575.
Rosell, Robin, Scarborough, Megan K., and Lewis, Carol M. (2010). Young, Pregnant, and Underinsured: Growing Demand Calls for Cost-Effective Collaboration between Health and Social Workers. Health & Social Work, 35(2), 155-157.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2011). Teen Pregnancy & Childbearing
Overview. Retrieved December 13, 2012, from http://www.hhs.gov.
Williamson, C.S. (2006). Nutrition in pregnancy. British Nutrition Foundation / Nutrition
Bulletin, Volume 31, 28-59.
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