December 28, 2010
By: Yesenia Rosa and Zuleyka Mendez
On February 8, 2002 El Nuevo Día posted, that about every two hours three adolescents give birth, which is equivalent to 36 babies daily, according to data from the Division of Mothers, Children and Teens of the Department of Health. There is also some data from the Department of Health which shows that currently about 17,000 of the 60,000 annual births are from mothers under 20 years.
Pregnancy in an early age (high school- college), can affect you psychologically, physically and socially. It also influences your education and your basic way of living. There are various negative aspects of teen pregnancy and there are many references available on the difficulties teen mothers find. It is important to clarify that it is motherhood itself that teens find difficult as opposed to the actual pregnancy. The adolescents age is only one consideration when a pregnancy occurs. In fact, from a health perspective, there are many positive things about teen pregnancy that often go ignored.
It is said that when you are younger, your body is more likely to bounce back quickly. “Your stamina is increasingly higher then one of an adult,” commented Mrs. Jimenez a high school teacher in Aguadilla, PR, who had her first child when she was 16 years old.
There are some statistics that demonstrate that women in their 20’s and 30’s face identical hazards during pregnancy as women older than 15. Other risks for girls younger than 15 are many times related to poor health care. Females in modernized countries, especially those with large populations, often become pregnant in their teens without being cast out from society.
A 40 year old is far less likely to recover quickly from giving birth than an adolescent of 18 years. This is slightly connected to medical conditions already established and birth-related complications. Younger women are less likely to have pre-existing medical problems that raise the risk of pregnancy, and afterwards they feel fewer complications from the birth itself.
Teen pregnancies are usually not planned, so many times there can be complications associated when teens are not alerted to the fact that they are pregnant. This can create numerous health problems to the mother and the baby. Infants born to teenagers are 2 – 6 times more probable to have low birth weight opposed to those born to mothers age 20 or older.
In Puerto Rico there are three categories in which young mothers fall into. Many marry as soon as they find out they are pregnant and then subsequently drop out of school. A few continue going to school while pregnant with excellent attendance, are highly driven, are eminent achievers academically and form friendly relationships with teachers and staff; they attend until the time of delivery but contact with school ends abruptly when the baby is born and so the mothers become drop-outs. The third group, the smallest one, stay in school even after their babies are born. After high school graduation, some go on to college programs or post high school vocational.
Zahira Vazquez a 5th year in the University of Puerto Rico- Mayagüez, gave birth when she was 19 years old. At the time she was pregnant she was in her 2nd year of college, at first she felt weird since people kept staring at her but she didn’t mind. “Nothing was going to stop me from studying,” explained Zahira. “My husband and my family supported me in every way possible. They always told me to keep studying.”
Although there are women who keep studying no matter what, like Zahira who soon graduates, and Mrs. Jimenez who now is a high school teacher, there are some who just can’t handle the pressure. Jennifer Torres was a high school student who gave birth at the age of 16. She like some people didn’t have the support of others. “All the looks I got, all the comments I received, really affected my life. I just couldn’t take it any more,” said Jennifer.
In some cases, there are teens in which they give their child up for adoption or drop out of school. This could be because they can’t afford the baby financially, they can’t handle the social pressure or they simply are not ready for motherhood. Teen pregnancy can and can not be a good thing for most women. Like in the case of Jennifer she couldn’t afford the baby’s needs and adoption wasn’t an option for her so she felt the need to drop out of school to get a full time job and support her child.
Teen pregnancy can be one of the hardest experiences a teen would ever have to face, because it could interrupt with school and plans they had for the future. They can become really emotional with feelings of fear and shame, the stress on how they’re going to break the news to their parents. They will feel worried that they won’t be able to handle all the pressure that will come to them, and they might think that no one can help them.
“There would be days in which you think no one can help you, or your just too afraid to ask for help. Nevertheless, denying you are pregnant can only make things worse for you and your child. Denial will not take the pregnancy away; instead, your wasting valuable time you could have invested in parental care and counseling,” said Yolanda Rivera, a 20 year old women who gave her child up for adoption when she was seventeen.
“You have options, and making a choice may be simple or difficult, depending on your situation. My message to all the teens out there is to never give up, you can make it. Hang on – life is hard, but in the long run, it’s worth it,” added Mrs. Jimenez.