Current American culture teaches teenagers that it’s okay — and even good — for them to have sex with whomever they want, but it’s not okay for them to become pregnant. It’s an impossible expectation that leaves about 500,000 American girls pregnant before the age of 20. Chances are very good there is a girl in your community who is facing (or will face) an unexpected pregnancy, and she may need your support.
Before attempting to help a pregnant teen in your community, seek out your local pro-life pregnancy resource center. Speak to them about the services they provide and how you can help them. They may be in need of donations or volunteers. Understanding how they help pregnant women in difficult circumstances will help you to better assist the young, pregnant mothers in your community.
Once you know the pro-life resources that are available for teenage mothers, tell others about them. You could hang flyers in churches, high schools, libraries, and other local spots with permission. You could donate money for the pregnancy center to take out ads in local papers or place information about the center in your church bulletin. Most teens are completely unaware of the help that is available to them if they become pregnant, other than what they have been told by Planned Parenthood. If they have been to Planned Parenthood for birth control, they are likely to return there for help with their pregnancy, which could quickly lead to an abortion. Knowing that there are other options is important.
If a teenage mother has reached out to you for help, she may have the following needs — and will also need help after her baby is born.
1. Help get her to doctor’s appointments. Girls pregnant before age 15 and those who do not seek prenatal care are at risk of premature birth, anemia, high blood pressure, and other health concerns. Prenatal care is vital for both a healthy mother and child.
2. Help her with child care. You can help her to find an affordable and safe option, or offer to babysit when she needs help.
3. Help her earn her diploma. Many teen mothers don’t have enough support in order to graduate from high school on time. Help her to stay on track by offering to babysit so she can study, or by tutoring her in subjects she may be struggling with.
4. Find her a safe home. Some teenage girls are under pressure to abort their babies or risk losing their homes. If a parent has threatened to kick their daughter out if she doesn’t have an abortion, she may need a place to stay. The pregnancy center may know of a maternity home that can help her.
5. Help her register for baby gear. Even though her pregnancy was unplanned, having a baby shower is still important in order to support her and celebrate her baby. Help her to register for necessary baby items — and anything that she doesn’t receive, the pregnancy center may be able to provide.
6. Give her a night off. Yes, her child is her responsibility, but if she is working hard she is in need of a night or afternoon off, or maybe a Saturday morning to sleep a little late. Respite for new moms is important for their mental health.
7. Encourage the baby’s father and other family members. If the baby’s father wants to be supportive, encourage him. Many times, the father is pushed out of the picture because his fears are mistaken for callousness. Encourage them to be a family. If her parents have attempted to pressure her into an abortion and their relationship is strained, encourage them to go to a doctor’s appointment, see an ultrasound, and hear the baby’s heartbeat. These moments are opportunities for them to connect with their grandchild.
Being a mother takes hard work and dedication. Being a teenage mother, with many people judging you along with the stress of school, can be even more difficult due to added pressures. These young moms and their babies need support and love from their families, friends, and communities, as well as from pro-life advocates, if they are going to thrive.
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