By KYLEE RYERS
Although the teen pregnancy rate in Nebraska decreased by a staggering 53% between 1988 and 2013, there were still 1,158 births to teens in the state in 2017. Unplanned pregnancies are nothing short of overwhelming and come with a range of feelings. Feelings of shock, disappointment, despair, and embarrassment are perfectly normal. As helpless as you as a parent may feel once you learn about your teen’s pregnancy, it is good to know that there are a number of ways in which you can support your son or daughter through what is undoubtedly a very testing time in both your lives.
Show support through the difficult decisions
As a parent, it is important to balance your own feelings and beliefs by offering support to your daughter on learning about her options as far as her pregnancy is concerned. Together you can explore the options and decide whether she will parent or make an adoption plan. These are very difficult decisions for anyone to make but may prove to be even more distressing for a vulnerable teen. Remember that there is no shame in feeling overwhelmed and that it may be a good idea to get a counselor involved to educate both you and your child further on the options as well as offer an unbiased opinion concerning the situation.
Help get the best prenatal care possible
Regardless of whether or not your daughter plans to parent, it is of vital importance that she receives the best prenatal care possible. Although most teen girls are biologically able to carry healthy babies, adequate health care is needed to ensure that they do. Being pregnant can put a lot of strain on a young girl’s body which can sometimes result in high blood pressure, anemia, fetal distress, and even a miscarriage. Regular prenatal check-ups will also ensure that your daughter is screened for a number of pregnancy-related medical conditions such as gestational diabetes that affects up to 10% of all pregnant women in the USA. During her prenatal check-ups, your daughter will also be informed of the importance of making healthy lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and alcohol consumption that can greatly benefit both her and her unborn baby.
Don’t be too hard on him or her (or yourself)
Teen pregnancy will undoubtedly catapult both you and your daughter’s or son’s lives into unknown territory. The entire family is bound to feel emotional and although it is natural for you to be angry, you also need to keep in mind that your daughter will need you more than ever before. Try your best to communicate in a calm and supportive manner and do not be too hard on your daughter or yourself despite your disappointment. Recognize and acknowledge your own feelings and work through them and allow your daughter to do the same.
As difficult as an unplanned pregnancy might be for the whole family it is important to support your daughter as best you can. This is your opportunity to help her take to make an unplanned pregnancy, a pregnancy with a plan.
If you or someone you know is going through an unplanned pregnancy, Nebraska Children’s Home Society offers pregnancy counseling. Click here to learn more.