Every pregnant teen needs a support system. No one can handle the challenges of pregnancy, childbirth and caring for an infant alone. No matter how embarrassing or humiliating, the first step is to ask for help. The initial place to look for help is from the parents of both the pregnant teen and the father. There are many decisions to be made and a group meeting where all opinions are heard is best. Major decisions involve questions of the possibility of marriage, keeping the baby, adoption, ending the pregnancy, financial responsibility, medical care, child care, the pregnant teen returning to school, and where she will live. Ideally, after reactions of initial disappointment and possibly anger and blame, the outcome will be one of mutual support for the teens and shared financial and child care responsibilities.
However, families are not ideal and disagreement is common. If the pregnant teen is opposed to the wishes of family members, she should not be pressured into a decision, but seek out more information until she is comfortable living with her choices. The choices are ultimately hers. Some families choose to withhold all support including allowing the teen to live at home. In this case, the pregnant teen should contact a trusted adult. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, or the parents of a friend are often willing to step in with temporary help and support. It is important that the teen girl have a trusted responsible adult in her life to guide her and to freely share her feelings with.
School guidance counselors are a source of support and can provide counseling at school in addition to supplying information on community or government programs to assist pregnant teens. Some schools have on-site child care centers as well as pregnancy and childcare classes for both the pregnant girl and the father. It may be necessary to change schools in order to find such a program.
Local churches can provide assistance in locating appropriate programs that provide financial, medical, educational or housing aid. Assisted by church volunteers, some churches sponsor programs for pregnant teens within their church at no cost. Counseling for dealing with the overwhelming emotional stress of teen pregnancy is also available at most churches.
The Department of Human Services in your area can help you access government assistance programs. The Medicaid program offers free or low cost medical care to those who qualify. Since the average cost of prenatal care is $2,000 and the average cost of an uncomplicated hospital birth is anywhere from $8,000 to $15,000, an uninsured pregnant teen is in dire need of financial assistance. Additionally, even if shopping carefully at thrift stores and yard sales, or borrowing from friends, the cost of basic newborn necessities is around $500. Be aware, that all states require fathers to pay some degree of financial child support. In some instances this may require legal intervention to collect.
Another government program designed to assist mothers and babies in need is the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program. The WIC program is a supplemental nutritional program that offers monthly free food and nutritional information to pregnant mothers and mothers of children up to age 5. They also offer health checks and medical referrals.
If a pregnant teen is in need of housing, there are non-profit or government sponsored group homes that provide housing, counseling, help finding medical care, baby necessities for a newborn, and pregnancy and childcare classes. They also assist young mothers in continuing their educations, finding jobs and securing housing. A recommendation from a church or school counselor will assist you in locating a reputable home.
A teenage pregnant girl needs a good support system to help her navigate the difficult road before her. Ask for help sooner rather than later. Seek out the people and programs that offer the assistance needed during a stressful and often lonely time and minimize the health and lifestyle risks of both mother and child.
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