Teen pregnancy can be a physical, financial and academic challenge for young expectant mothers. Issues that get overlooked are the psychological affects. Teen mothers need more than just ultrasounds, financial support, and college and career guidance. They need someone to talk to; someone who can walk them through any emotional issues they are facing and who can help them realise that they are not alone--many pregnant teenagers feel and behave in the same way.
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Denial is one dangerous reaction to a positive pregnancy test. Many teens will delay telling their parents, the father or a doctor what is going on. Procrastinating these crucial choices or refusing to seek medical attention is dangerous for both the mother and the baby. In extreme cases, the girl might keep herself in denial until labour begins. This denial can occasionally be transferred to friends and family as well, resulting in parents who subconsciously ignore the physical changes they observe in their daughter. Other pregnant teenagers might acknowledge their pregnancy but deny the need for lifestyle changes or healthy behaviour. In these examples, pregnant mothers might start or continue to drink alcohol, use illegal drugs or neglect proper care for their bodies.
Some teenage mothers might go through a phase of narcissism, in which they become preoccupied with themselves rather than the world around them. This can happen when faced with a situation that appears too large to handle. It then becomes impossible for the girl to focus on anyone else besides her and her baby. The self-absorbed behaviour can intensify when the expectant mother is confronted with her friend's seemingly trivial problems: dating, school work or sibling rivalries. It is easy for the pregnant teenager to begin thinking that her problems overshadow those of her family and friends, and she might become confused when they aren't bending over backward to help her out.
Guilt commonly plagues teenagers who discover that they have conceived. Whether this is a religious guilt or guilt for letting down their family and friends, it is a psychological issue that needs to be dealt with. Talking with a parent, teacher or counsellor could help the teenager put her new situation in a better perspective. Rather than focusing on what could have been done differently in the past, it is more helpful to focus on what can be done today. The teenager might also find comfort in talking with the people she feels she has let down. Often, she will discover that they are supportive and willing to help. If not, it is time to find a better support group.
The self-esteem of a pregnant teenager has many hurdles to cross. Even older women sometimes experience body issues as they begin to put on weight during the second trimester. The teenager will have even more burdens on her back: Her classmates might not always say respectful things about her, some of her friends might abandon her, and she will become increasingly worried about her chances at receiving a decent education or starting a successful career. It may seem that her life dreams are collapsing at every turn. Many pregnant teenagers report feeling out of control, worthless or useless to their communities. Teenage mothers might beat these self-esteem problems by developing a flexible plan for the future of herself and her baby. Her life might not be what she expected, but she still has control over her future and the future of her child.
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