When a teenager discovers she is pregnant, emotions run high. She might feel scared, confused, unsure of herself, and frightened of what her parents might think.
But with the help of counsellors and therapists, pregnant teenagers are able to consider all options available to them, and receive proper care if they decide to continue their pregnancies.
The counsellor’s role
An unplanned pregnancy complicates the confusing physical and mental changes of the adolescence. Teenagers crave more and more independence throughout adolescence, and place more importance on socializing with friends and establishing an identity.
Childbirth brings a big responsibility to a pregnant teen.
The teen must worry about how to break the news to her parents, and what she should do about the pregnancy, all while simultaneously dealing with new financial pressures, criticism from peers and teachers, and concerns about finishing school.
The pregnancy leads to a more complexed process that increases the risk of stress and anxiety.
After dealing with the shock of discovering a pregnancy, a teenager seeks out the guidance of a counsellor to plan the next stage. Society as a whole does not look favourably on unplanned pregnancies, so the teen might feel worried and confused about what to do next.
Because the teenager might feel guilty or anxious about the pregnancy, the counsellor must focus on assisting the teen through the mental and emotional distress she will feel, while also providing practical advice regarding the pregnancy.
The counsellor works with the teen to develop a plan to inform the teen’s significant others, including parents. A teenager might consider this one of the most frightening steps of the pregnancy. Some parents might react with anger and frustration, while others might display disappointment.
The counsellor conducts role-playing exercises with the teen, taking the role of the parent. In order to provide additional support for the teenager, the counsellor also might suggest bringing the parents into the counselling setting.
After informing the parents, the teen should then come to a decision about what to do about the pregnancy. A teen has three choices regarding the pregnancy: she can choose to terminate the pregnancy; become a mother; or give up the child for adoption
The counsellor must provide impartial and accurate facts about each of these options in a non-judgmental environment and will refer the teen for further assistance. If the teen decides to carry out the pregnancy, the counsellor should begin discussing school and available support services.
Being pregnant and in high school is often a traumatic and frightening experience for teenagers. A pregnant teenager might attend school until the time of delivery, but some teens find the difficulties of carrying a child, while also working toward an education too much to handle.
At school, they face the opinions of their peers and teachers, who might single them out and isolate them. Unfortunately, many pregnant teenagers drop out of school and don’t ever return.
Without the help of a counsellor, a teenager might feel lost and confused about what steps to take to ensure a healthy pregnancy. To lessen the amount of stress in their lives, some teenagers develop unhealthy coping strategies to deal with the pressure.
Sometimes when faced with an intimidating task, a teenager shuts down and ignores the problem. For pregnant teenagers, this kind of coping has detrimental health effects for both the mother and the developing baby.
Giving teens proper parenting tools
Many teenagers don’t know what they’ll be doing within the next 24 hours, so for pregnant teens, the need to plan months – if not years – in advance seems daunting.