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Teenage pregnancy is a major concern in today’s society; there are many ways to prevent teen pregnancy, many people to get advice from, and many decisions that a teen parent must make.
II. Teenage Pregnancy
A. Concerns about Teenage Pregnancy
B. What helps prevent Teen Pregnancy
C. Source of Advice and Support
III. Stages of Pregnancy
A. First Trimester
B. Second Trimester
C. Third Trimester
IV. Challenges of Teenage Parenthood
A. Parenthood Options
B. Continuing Education
C. Financial Problems
Teenage pregnancy is a major concern in today’s society; there are many ways to prevent teenage pregnancy, many people to get advice from, and many decisions a teenage parent must make. The statistics tell that the U.S. has the highest rate of teen pregnancy and births.
“More than 4 out of ten young women become pregnant at least once before they reach the age of 20-nearly one billion a year”(Teen Pregnancy Facts and Stats 1). Teenage pregnancy has declined slowly but steadily. “These recent declines reverse the 24-percent rise in the teenage birth rate from 1986 to 1991″ (Teen Pregnancy Facts and Stats 1).
Usually only one-third of teenage mothers receive a high school diploma. The rest of the mothers usually end up on welfare. “A majority of both boys and girls who are sexually active wish they had waited. Eight in ten girls and six in ten boys say they wish they had waited” (Teen Pregnancy Facts and Stats 1).
Many people are concerned about the problems teenage parents and their children face. The health risks for a teenage girl who becomes pregnant increase sharply. One of the concerns of teenage mothers is the health risk. Usually young women have more complications in pregnancy than older women.
The most hazardous complication is low birth weight. “One out of seven babies born to teenage mothers have a low birth weight” (Hildebrand 88). Poor eating habits, smoking, or using alcohol or drugs, cause low birth weight. Premature babies and babies with low birth weights often have organs that haven’t fully developed, such as lungs, heart and brain. These babies get sick easier than normal weight babies.
As a result from what was motioned above, teenage mothers are considered to be in the high-risk health category. They need good prenatal care as soon as they find out they are pregnant. A doctor, nurse, or other medical practitioner gives most of the information about nutrition. Prenatal care can help prevent pregnancy complications and improve one’s chances of having a healthy baby.
The best way to prevent teenage pregnancy, which is 100% effective, is abstinence. Most teenagers have a whole life ahead of them and having a child will cause a lot of complications in your goals. It’s not impossible for teenage mothers to complete high school, or try to reach their goals in life, but having a child could very well interfere with these goals. Another way of protection is condoms. There are a lot of protections out there, but these “protections” are not 100-percent reliable.
There are a lot of places and people to go to for support and advice. In addition there are many organizations and hotlines a teenage mother can contact for advice and assistance.
Parents and family are one alternative. There are a lot of teenagers that are afraid of their parents’ reactions. However, most parents are calmer and more supportive than teenagers expect. Most parents are shocked when the teenager comes and tells them that they are pregnant. Just give the parents time and they will try to give their teenager the best advice that they know.
The school nurse or counselor is another place to get advice. The counselor usually can gather up pamphlets and brochures about pregnancy. The counselor can also help the teenager remain in school. They are very supportive and understanding.
Doctors and clinics are very important for a teenage parent to go to. There are a lot of home pregnancy tests available, but the doctor is a lot more reliable and gives a more accurate answer.
Family planning counselors are also very professional people who can explain various options and discuss the community resources available to teenagers. They also help arrange for financial assistance and recommend support groups. Since teenagers need a lot of prenatal care, the counselor also offers advice on prenatal care, nutrition information, childbirth classes, and parenting skills.
These mentioned are just a few place or people you can go to for advice. Don’t ever think that there isn’t anyone out there to ask for advice.
Teenager mothers would feel a lot more comfortable knowing what was going on with their bodies and how the baby is developing. The next part of this paper is going to explain the first through the third trimester of pregnancy.
“The average biological length of human gestation, from conception to delivery, is 266 days. Due to the difficulty in assessing the exact date of conception, however, the clinical length of pregnancy is considered to be 280 days or 40 weeks, calculated from the last normal menstrual period before the cessation of menses, or menstrual flow. This calculation assumes that ovulation occurs 14 days after the last menstrual period. Human gestation is further divided into trimesters, each of which lasts slightly more than 13 weeks” (Pregnancy and birth 1).
In the first trimester the mother experiences nausea and vomiting, morning sickness, in the first 8 weeks. Breast soreness or tingling often occurs due to hormonal stimulation. Fatigue is also a common complaint.
The baby is developing organs in the first trimester. The fetus’ heart begins to beat after 4 weeks. By 8 weeks, the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, fingers, and toes are easily recognizable, and male and female reproductive systems have diffentiated. By 12 weeks all of the organs have developed. During these first weeks, the mother should be very careful because the fetus is most vulnerable to potential teratogenic, birth-defect inducing drugs, radiation, and viruses. All of those factors are very dangerous to the fetus.
During the second trimester the mother has increasing abdominal girth and pressure from the growing uterus. Braxton-Hicks contractions may occur. The mother may experience lightheadedness and may even faint due to the effects of the hormones on the blood vessels and the amount of blood diverted to the uterus, placenta, and fetus. There are many discomforts associated with pregnancy, most complained about is heartburn. Despite this discomfort, women are generally more comfortable during the second trimester than the first.
During the second trimester the baby’s thin-walled skin develops, organs begin to function, and blood begins to be formed in the bone marrow. Scalp hair appears, fat increases, and bones begin to harden. About 20 weeks along, the mother can feel the precise movements of the baby.
In the third trimester, the last weeks of pregnancy become increasingly uncomfortable. Headaches, shortness of breath, and swelling of legs are the common complaints. False labor pains, or contractions of the uterus that do not lead to progressive dilation, or opening of the cervix, can be particularly uncomfortable.
The baby gains weight in the third trimester. Ear lobes begin to develop cartilage, testes begin to descend into the scrotum, nails begin to grow over the tips of the fingers, and creases develop over the soles of the feet. Also, the fetus begins to demonstrate coordinated patterns of behavior that are similar to the cycles of activity and sleep of a newborn.
The things mentioned are just an overall view of the trimesters. A woman’s body undergoes a variety of changes to prepare for the growth, nourishment, and birth of a child.
The teenage parent has a lot of challenges that must be overcame and decided, such as parenthood options, continuing education, and financial problems. These mentioned are just a few of the challenges a teenager faces.
There are three options parents must decide if they become pregnant. The parents can marry and raise the child together. The mother or father can raise the child as a single parent. The parents can put the baby up for adoption. These are three options that are going to be very hard to decide. Whatever the teenager decides will have a consequence on the baby and the parents.
When teenagers become pregnant, the first thing they want to do is rush into marriage. The parents may have talked about marriage but this would be the “real thing”. “Only one-third of the teenagers who become pregnant before the age of 18 are married” (Gutman 25).
Babies need a lot of attention. They need to be fed, burped, diaper changes, bathe and cuddled. Having someone around to help with these tasks can be very helpful and rewarding for parents and the baby.
Most teenage marriages don’t last long. The teenagers may think they will have more freedom when they are married. Wrong, you will not have as much freedom. Teenagers are taking on a big responsibility when they marry. Think about it before you rush into marriage. When teenagers marry, they have to make decisions about where to live and how to pay the bills. These are just things you have to decide on. Trying to adjust to parenthood and having a marriage partner will be challenging and overwhelming. “As a result, four out of five teenage couples divorce within six years” (Hildebrand 94). The marriages that are successful receive support from friends and family.
Another option would be singe parenthood. Single parenthood is either the mother or father deciding to raise the child alone. Usually when this happens, the mother is the one to keep the child. Both mother and child usually live with the mother’s parents. Money concern plays a major role in teenage marriage, but is a greater problem for single parents. Being a single parent, trying to work, finish school, you must arrange for childcare services. Childcare services can be very expensive for a single parent. Usually if a single parent is balancing school, work, and taking care of a child, the teenager have a lot of support from parents, friends, and relatives. Parents can be big support for a teenage parent.
The last option is adoption. To make this decision, the parents would have thought long and hard about the baby’s needs and their future. Adoption is not bad it may be best for the child if the couple isn’t able to provide everything that a baby needs. If the parents weren’t able to give the baby the good start in life it needs, adoption would be the best option.
Adoptions can be arranged by local, state, religious, and even private agencies. These agencies have a list of couples that wants kids but are unable to have them. The couple’s background is checked to be certain that they would be the best parents for the baby. Teenage parents who put their child up for adoption can be assured that the child will be taken care of.
If the parents decide to give the baby up for adoption before its born, it can be arranged before birth. Adoption laws vary from state to state. An open adoption can be made. This adoption allows the birth and adoptive parents to share information about themselves and the child. The birth mother usually meets the adoptive parents during the pregnancy or after the birth. The adoptive parents send photographs and letters letting the birth mother know how the child is doing. This is an advantage for the birth mother. The birth parents will know a little about his/her biological background. The adoptive parents can answer most of any questions the child asks about the birth parents.
Continuing education is also a major decision when you become a teenage parent. Pregnant teenagers have the right to finish their education. It may be hard, but it is not impossible. In some schools they stay in their regular classes, but in others they are placed in special classes for pregnant teenagers. These classes can be helpful because they help parents learn about pregnancy, prenatal care, and parenting skills. Some schools even have childcare. This would help out a lot of teenage parents trying to finish their education. It is important for teenage parents to complete high school. A lot of jobs require high school diplomas. How can teenagers support their baby with no job?
The statistics show that teenagers who dropout usually qualify for the lowest-paying jobs in the community, if even that. That is why having an education will help out a teenage mother or father. Having a high school diploma enables them to have more career choices.
The most important challenge of a teenage parent is financial problems. Teenagers face more financial problems than older parents. Even if both parents work, they lack the education or skills needed to obtain a job that can support a family. This is why many teen mothers rely on welfare. “Some 63% of teen parents depended on public programs for medical needs and daily living expense in 1992″ (Programs that Work Now 1). Aid to families with Dependent Children (AFDC) provides financial support to eligible parents and children. Government assistance is minimal, however, and not always available. This probably won’t change in the future because of the tax burden of these programs. Because of these programs, it helps prevent teenage mothers living in poverty.
Before you become sexually active think of the consequences you face. Teen pregnancy isn’t just it, there are many problems such as STD’s, AIDS, and HIV. These are all associated with sex. If you are sexually active get on some kind of birth control and always use a condom. Think about the consequences you as a teenager would have to face if you risk getting pregnant. Think about the consequences it would put a baby through. It’s tough to be a teenage parent and people will have to sacrifice a lot of things that they used to do now that there’s a baby with you. Just remember, don’t start having sex just because everybody else is or because someone’s pressuring you into it. Think about everything, including your future, school, friends, freedom, and your life.
Gutman-Bowe, Sonia. Teen Pregnancy. Minneapolis: 1987.
Hildebrand, Verna. Parenting: Rewards and Responsibilities. New York: 1988
“Pregnancy and birth.” Grolier, INC. 1996 ed.
“Programs that work now.” AFDC. 1995 online. Internet. 18 November 1999. Available http://www.intac.com/~jdeck/tahra/programstext.html.
“Teen Pregnancy Facts and Stats.” NCPTP. 1999. Online. Internet. 11 November 1999. Available http://www.teenpregnancy.org/factstats.html.
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