The fact that most teenagers never plan to get pregnant, despite the fact that they do get pregnant, presents a challenge to health care givers. This is because teenage pregnancies have extra health risks to both the teenager and the baby. According to Makinson (1985), the main reason for this is that most of them do not get timely prenatal care, making it a risk factor to pregnancy related blood pressure and its complications. The baby faces premature birth and, even low birth weight. Interestingly, more than 10 of births in United States in 2006 were from teenagers, most of who lie between 18 years and 19 years. Sadly, about a third of girls worldwide get pregnant at least once before 20 years age. Furthermore, teenage mothers have a higher likelihood to have premature births (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) than mothers who are over twenty years old. Prematurely born babies face numerous health problems, long-term disabilities, and even premature death.
This article goes through the menace of teenage pregnancy generally to unravel its scope in the modern society. It looks at the general causes, effects and impacts of teenage pregnancy in the society.
Universally, females under the age of 20 years are classified as teenagers. Teenage pregnancies occur when people under this age get pregnant. However, teenage pregnancy is relative on social and personal factors. The rates of teenage pregnancy vary from country to country because there are differences in the levels of sexual activities, variations in sex education provision and accessibility and affordability of contraceptive options among teenagers. This paper looks generally at teenage pregnancy and the role of nurses.
Causes of teenage pregnancy
Allen Frost and Darroch (2009) write that peer pressure is a major causal factor. Most teenagers get aroused to explore their sexuality through teenage groups. Use of drugs and alcohol may also lead to sexual activities, though unintended. In poor societies and/or families, contraceptives are unaffordable. This means that careless sexual activities are unprotected and may lead to teenage pregnancies. Other cultures view use of contraceptives as immoral. This leaves teenagers vulnerable to pregnancies. Sexual abuse is also a major cause.
Majorly, rape in Baltimore leaves many teenagers pregnant, and in most cases without knowing who is responsible for this. Other causes are poverty in the society, which leaves poor teenagers for vulnerable childhood growth environment and domestic violence. Teenagers under foster care are also vulnerable. This is because the kind of care they receive is not too close to provide parental love, making them to seek alternative love. Another factor is low educational expectations (Strunk, 2008). Here, parents who had their children in teen ages seem to have no moral authority over their teen daughters. This leads to poor communication and lack of guidance from the parents. Social media is of great influence, too. Adolescents have much exposition to social media, hence, affecting their emotional and social reasoning. This makes them engage much in sexual activities, hence, increasing the occurrence of teenage pregnancy (Ladin, Jane & Kristin, 2006).
Medical complications of teen pregnancy
Teenage pregnancy has several medical complications including inadequacy in prenatal care, especially if they do not have the parental support, which may lead to poor monitoring of the baby’s growth. There is also a danger of Preeclampsia, which is a severe medical condition that combines high protein level in the blood and hypertension. Both this and the control medications can interfere with growth of the fetus and lead to other complications, like premature birth. Premature birth of babies below 37 weeks may also occur, partly because the teenager is not fully mature in the womb. A baby may also have a low birth weight (Strunk, 2008).
Teenage pregnancy is circumstantial. With the changing social perspectives, it is not right to pass judgment on teenagers before comprehending the causes and circumstances under which they get pregnant. However, the society should try all means to alleviate teenage pregnancy since it has many negative effects to the child, mother and the society. Problems emanate from teenage pregnancy mainly because most of them are emergency issues. By this, it means that the teen mothers neither plan them nor are normally aware of their implications. Therefore, the problems associated with this are adverse mainly because of ignorance. With the many negative effects, it would be absurd to be in support of teenage pregnancy.
Teenage pregnancy is perceived differently depending on social settings and norms of each society. In some societies it is a taboo, while in others it is no big deal.
Generally, the society does not receive the idea of teenage pregnancy gladly. Today, the society believes that having children should only come with adulthood and the mother should be mature, responsible and stable enough to be able to take care of a child. Therefore, teenage pregnancy carries social stigma in most societies around the globe. It has been associated with rejection by families and abandonment by friends.
The fact that there is a low likelihood of teen parents continuing with their education leaves teenage pregnancy least desired in the society. Therefore, it leads to a decline in educational prospects, both locally and internationally. Further, it may lead to inflation of the society medical budget since it leads to anemia, obesity, hypertension and sexually transmitted diseases. Caring for such cases becomes a burden to the society, and for this reason, it condemns teenage pregnancy and all that might be its causes. Stigmatization in the society is so bad that it sometimes leads to worse contemplations, like abortion (Strunk, 2008).
Recently, the Republicans are planning to use defunding of Planned Parenthood as a campaign strategy (Rivoli, 2011). This might have a positive impact on the campaign against teenage pregnancy. The availability of parenting funding is one of the reasons for the increased teenage pregnancy since the federal government provides funds for single parents. This renders parenting easy, hence, promoting teenage pregnancy. With curtailed or reduced funding in this area, teenagers will have to think twice about single parenthood before engaging in sexual activities.
Nursing Considerations for the Client
The fact that nursing is a profession indiscriminative on what the society takes on teenage pregnancy should lead the way on the considerations for pregnant teenagers. Therefore, nursing should take pregnant teenagers as any other special patients requiring specialized health care, considering the health implications of teenage pregnancy. Maurer & Smith (2009) assert that professional nurses know the implications of teenage pregnancy and they, therefore, have a role to play in preventing it. However, they also have special roles to play in provision of specialized prenatal care to pregnant teenagers. Nurses have to understand the fact that some of their clients may not want their situations revealed to anybody else. This creates a dilemma, in that confidentiality is among the nursing profession code of ethics, but then there is no morality in providing some services like contraceptives, even for those who are less than 16 years old. Governments’ strategies approve the provision of such services as contraceptives to underage, even without the consent of their parents/guardians.
Professionally, nurses have roles to play in helping their clients. They do this through ensuring that they give their clients special prenatal healthcare, advice on proper feeding habits, medical prescriptions, and mental, emotional and psychological support, among others (Maurer & Smith, 2009). Further, the nurse should be empathetic with the client considering the fact that the pregnancy might have been unintended, or because of acts like rape. The nurse should also be available to the client as a confidant and friend. This is because of the social stigmatization that might render the pregnant teenager helpless and lonely in the society. Nurses can advise their clients to remember to take their prenatal vitamins, which will help prevent birth defects, negatives of pregnancy smoking, and remind them to use protection to prevent transmission of diseases. Nurses can also advise the parents of the teens to place the children for adoption programs if they cannot take care of them.
There are so many organizations in the community that aim at provision of guidance and counseling to the youths on the negatives of teenage pregnancy. To mention but a few, there are health providers, official elects, service groups, educational institutions, media, faith communities, teen organizations and service groups.
In Baltimore, there are health organizations that help in checking the rates of teenage pregnancy. Examples are the Baltimore City Health Department, John Hopkins Urban Health Institute, Healthy Teen Network and Center for Adolescent Health. Further, there is Maryland Family Planning Health Program, which avails family planning, teenage pregnancy prevention services and preconception health services in Baltimore city and its environs.
Generally, these organizations aim at availing education and creation of awareness about the necessity of prevention of adolescence pregnancy and provision of care to pregnant teenagers and their parents. They also carry out research aiming to promote prevention and dissemination of programs and models. They facilitate provision of resources and materials, training and technical assistance to teenagers. They also ensure availability of funds for pregnancy prevention programs, and they create policies and provide leadership and procedures that support effective evidence based research practices.
Addressing the issue as a nurse
As a nurse, one must consider the fact that the first role they have is to provide treatment and care to their patients (Frost & Darroch, 2009). However, the ethical implications of teenage pregnancy mean that a professional nurse has a lot to do about teenage pregnancy. In trying to address the issue, nurses have to teach and provide counseling to youth about sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases, reproduction and use of contraceptives. Furthermore, they can control the situation by working hand in hand with children before they become sexually active. Additionally, nurses can get involved in development, implementation and evaluation of community-based programs that will aim at preventing teenage pregnancy.
Teenage pregnancy seems to be a socially unacceptable thing in most societies around the world. However, the rising statistics indicates that it is not something that will see its end soon. This means that it has to be embraced first before seeking means of eliminating it. Nurses have difficult roles in the ethical issue in that they have to stand between the teenagers and be their bridge to the society. They have to understand and seek means of helping teenagers who fall a victim of pregnancy, either knowingly or unknowingly. Furthermore, they have to understand that they have to shed a lot of light in provision of direction of the future of teenage pregnancy.
Frost, J., & Darroch, J. (2009). Understanding the Impact of Effective Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Programs. Family Planning Perspectives, 67(5), 188-195. L’Engle, Kelly
Ladin; Brown, Jane D.; Kenneavy, Kristin (2006). “The mass media are an important context for adolescents’ sexual behavior”. Journal of Adolescent Health 38 (3): 186–192.
Rivoli, D. (2011, September 30). House Republicans Seek to Defund Planned Parenthood, NPR. International Business Times, US, 72, 31-33.
Strunk, J. (2008). The Effect of School-Based Health Clinics on Teenage Pregnancy and Parenting Outcomes. The Journal of School Nursing, 24(1), 13-20.
Hellgren, M. (2010, December 2). Many Baltimore City Rape Cases To Be Reopened « CBS Baltimore. CBS Baltimore – News, Sports, Weather, Traffic and the Best of Baltimore. Retrieved February 27, 2012, from http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2010/12/02/many-baltimore-city-rape-cases-to-be-reopened/