Under Age 20 and Expecting
Stats on Teen Pregnancy
- Twenty percent of all adolescent pregnancies occur within the first six months following first intercourse.
- More than one million adolescents become pregnant each year in the United States. That's about 3,000 a day. Before they leave their teens, four out of ten girls will become pregnant—most of them unintentionally.
- Each year in America almost 500,000 teenagers give birth.
- One in every fifteen men in America fathers a child while he is a teenager.
A fetus is an unborn child. This term is usually used 12 weeks after conception.
If you're a teen dad who wants to be involved in your partner's pregnancy—speak up! Too often young fathers are left out in the cold because it's assumed that's what they want. Don't let everybody else tell you what you think.
If you're a teenager and expecting a baby, let me congratulate you. Whether you planned this pregnancy or not, you're doing the right thing by reading books to find out what to expect and how to take care of yourself. You are not like other women. Your own body is still growing while your baby is growing inside of you. You have special needs that have to be considered during this time.
Statistics tell us that teenage girls are at risk for delivering a baby who weighs less than babies born to older women. These low-birthweight babies are at risk for medical complications and even death. The reason for this difference in birthweights is not known exactly, but we have a good idea. Many teens risk the health of their babies in these ways:
- They try to hide the pregnancy by dieting to keep their weight down.
- Even after the pregnancy is confirmed and known, they tend to eat poorly (definitely bad for the developing fetus).
- Teens are less likely to quit smoking during pregnancy. Smoking definitely has an effect on the size of the growing baby.
- Pregnant teens continue to drink alcohol, often to excess.
- Teens with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) often are so embarrassed by this medical problem that they don't get health care for themselves or their babies. They haven't gotten the message that the only thing shameful about having an STD is keeping it quiet and letting it affect the health of an unborn baby.
Planning a Healthy Teen Pregnancy
As a pregnant teenager you have a special responsibility to make sure your baby grows strong and healthy during your pregnancy. Take the following steps to help keep your baby safe:
- Get prenatal medical care right from the start. Do not put this off or skip any appointments.
- Eat a balanced diet with foods that will nourish your growing baby.
- Do not smoke during your pregnancy.
- Protect yourself during sex from getting a sexually transmitted disease. Make sure your partner wears a condom.
- It's time to give up nicotine, alcohol, and recreational drugs (such as marijuana and cocaine). If you have used these drugs in the past, they have to go during your pregnancy.
- Follow all the instructions of your health-care provider.
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth © 2004 by Michele Isaac Gliksman, M.D. and Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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