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The Physical and Emotional Effects of Teen Pregnancy on the Mother

Oct 03, 2023

Teen pregnancy is a pressing issue that can have significant implications for the health of both the mother and the child. From the physical effects of teenage pregnancy and childbirth to the emotional and social challenges of being a teen mother, many factors contribute to the complexity of this issue. One of the significant challenges teenage mothers face is negative social stigma and discrimination. This can affect their mental and emotional health, making it even more vital that teen mothers are provided with the support and resources to help them navigate the challenges of motherhood.

In this article, we discuss the effects of teen pregnancy on maternal health, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Additionally, the importance of prevention and support services for teenage mothers will be covered.

How Pregnancy Affects Teen Mothers Physically

Physical Effects of Teen Pregnancy on the Mother

Increased Risk of Pregnancy Complications

The health risks for teen mothers are significant. Compared to adult mothers, teenage mothers are at a higher risk of experiencing pregnancy complications. The following are some of the most common complications:

Pre-eclampsia and eclampsia: Characterized by high blood pressure and damage to organs such as the kidneys and liver, these grave conditions can occur during pregnancy.

Anemia: Teenage mothers are at a higher risk of developing anemia during pregnancy. This could lead to fatigue, weakness, and other health problems.

Gestational hypertension: Complications such as premature birth and low birth rate can occur when a teenage mother has this condition. This is often characterized by high blood pressure during teen pregnancy.

Impact on Maternal Health

Both during and after the pregnancy, maternal health can be significantly impacted by having an adolescent pregnancy. Common maternal health issues that teenage mothers may have to face include:

Changes in Body Image: One of the mental health effects of teenage pregnancy is that the mother may experience self-esteem issues caused by changes in body image during and after the pregnancy. 

Weight Gain and Loss: Physical effects of teenage pregnancy, such as significant weight gain, can lead to health problems and be hard to manage. 

Nutrition and Health: The health risks for teen mothers are many, and not being able to maintain a healthy diet could create or worsen the potential risks for teen mothers. If during the pregnancy the mother cannot maintain a nutritional diet, then she could experience health problems and deficiencies.  

Impact on Postpartum Recovery

Every mother is different, and teenage mothers may struggle with a variety of different complications and issues during the postpartum period. Common post-birth challenges during the postpartum period can include: 

Postpartum Depression: Compared to adult mothers, teen mothers are more at risk of struggling with postpartum depression. Without support, teenage pregnancy and postpartum depression can negatively affect the mother’s mental health, emotional health, and overall well-being.  

Breastfeeding: Challenges with breastfeeding are something teen mothers may experience. This could mean a lack of milk supply or the baby struggling to latch. Support for teenage mothers could help with some breastfeeding challenges these young moms may face.

Sleep Deprivation: Teenage mothers often struggle with sleep deprivation because of the demanding nature of caring for a newborn. These mothers may not have the support systems in place to go through this process on their own. It’s very difficult to have to deal with the strain that comes from both single motherhood and teenage pregnancy. Over time this can wear on the mom and cause negative effects on their maternal health and mental health.

How Pregnancy Affects Teen Mothers Emotionally

Emotional Effects of Teen Pregnancy on the Mother

Increased Risk of Mental Health Issues

The mental health and emotional health of teen mothers can be negatively impacted due to the struggles that come with being a young mom. Social stigma, discrimination, and lack of support can make the impact of teen pregnancy on mental health greater. If not dealt with through positive support systems and services, teen moms may start coping with teenage pregnancy with unhealthy habits such as substance abuse. Child development and maternal health can be negatively affected when substance abuse and teenage pregnancy mix. Adolescent pregnancy can have a negative influence on mental health for mothers, with many of the common mental health challenges they may face being listed below:

Depression: When compared to adult mothers, the possibility of developing depression during and after pregnancy is higher for teenage mothers. This can have significant consequences for their overall well-being and emotional health.

Anxiety: Support for teenage mothers is important because many will experience doubt and anxiety about their ability to care for a newborn. Additionally, teen mothers may experience anxiety because of financial stress. 

Stress: School, work demands, social stigma, and discrimination are all stressors that young moms may face during and after their teen pregnancy. 

Impact on Social Life and Support Systems

The social life and support systems of the teenage mother can be greatly impacted by adolescent pregnancy. Social and support-related challenges that teenage mothers most commonly face include:

Stigma and Discrimination: Guilt, isolation, and shame are all feelings that young mothers may face when they are met with social stigma and discrimination associated with becoming a mother at a young age. 

Relationships with Family and Friends: As teen mothers become new moms and navigate their pregnancy, their relationships with loved ones may become strained. When the support for teenage mothers declines, especially from close family and friends, feelings of isolation and stress can occur.

Need for Emotional Support: Support systems built of friends, family, and healthcare professionals are necessary for teenage mothers so that they are not alone in facing the many challenges of teen pregnancy and raising a child. 

Impact on Future Goals and Aspirations

Teenage pregnancy and education and career opportunities for a new mother are all connected. Getting pregnant as a teen impacts the goals and plans the mother has for her future. A few of the future goals and aspirations the mother may have to make changes to include:

Education: Due to social stigma, discrimination, and the demanding nature of caring for a newborn, teen mothers may struggle to complete their education. 

Career Opportunities: Access to career opportunities for teen mothers may be limited because of the connection between teenage pregnancy and social stigma. Lack of support may also be another reason a young mom could struggle to acquire these opportunities. 

Personal Development: Caring for a newborn is demanding, especially without extensive support for teenage mothers. For this reason, young moms may face barriers to personal development and self-actualization. 

Preventing Unwanted Teen Pregnancies & Support Resources For Teen Moms

Prevention and Support for Teen Mothers

To reduce the physical and emotional effects of teenage pregnancy on the mother, teenage pregnancy prevention and education on available support services are necessary. The following are some of the more important support and prevention services: 

Importance of Sexual Education and Contraception

To prevent teen pregnancy, youth need access to comprehensive sexual education and contraception. There are many different kinds of contraception, and teens should consult with their doctor about family planning and the type(s) of contraceptives that will work best for their situation. In an ideal world, access to healthcare and contraception would be available to all individuals, unfortunately, teens who experience domestic violence are less likely to have control of their bodies and the same access to healthcare. Domestic abuse and teenage pregnancy are two complex issues that often go hand in hand. If you or a loved one has experienced or continues to experience domestic abuse, you are not alone: resources and support are available to help. No one should be denied access to contraceptives and sexual education. Some of the most common and effective forms of contraceptives include: 

Hormonal contraceptives: There are several hormonal contraceptive methods to choose from, including birth control pills, patches, and injections, which function by preventing ovulation and thickening cervical mucus.

Barrier contraceptives: Barrier methods like condoms, diaphragms, and cervical caps effectively block the sperm from reaching the egg, thus preventing pregnancy.

Long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs): Intrauterine devices (IUDs) and contraceptive implants offer highly effective, long-term contraception.

Support Services for Teen Mothers

Support for teenage mothers is an important part of managing the challenges of pregnancy and being a mother. Many young moms suddenly face both single motherhood and teenage pregnancy. Single parenting and parenting as a teen can be overwhelming, especially if the teen mother does not have positive support systems already in their life. Several important support services teen mothers should consider looking into are: 

Counseling and Therapy: Being a teenage mother is not simple, and there are many reasons why teen mothers could benefit from going to therapy and counseling. Teen mothers may experience stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges associated with teen pregnancy and being a young mom. Counseling and therapy can help teen mothers unpack and work through the impact of teenage pregnancy on mental health. 

Parenting Programs and Classes: Becoming a mother at a young age can be overwhelming and challenging, especially when navigating through child development and teenage pregnancy. Parenting programs and classes can be helpful for teenage mothers, providing essential learning opportunities on vital infant care, breastfeeding, and child development skills. These classes support teenage mothers’ parenting journeys and equip them with the necessary knowledge and skills to ensure their child’s growth and development. Through parenting programs, teenage mothers are given the tools and resources they need to provide the best possible care for their children while building their confidence in their parenting skills. 

Support Groups and Mentors: Being a teenage mother is an emotional rollercoaster ride that may leave one confused, overwhelmed, and alone. However, support systems such as support groups and mentors provide a safe space where teenage mothers can receive guidance and emotional assistance. These support systems connect mothers with similar experiences and challenges, creating a sense of belonging and understanding. When teenage mothers have access to such support systems, they may have a better time coping with teenage pregnancy, overcoming the obstacles of motherhood, and achieving their goals.

Resources For Teen Moms in Wichita, Kansas

How to Find Help About Teenage Pregnancy

Teen pregnancy can adversely affect young mothers mentally, emotionally, and physically. Future goals and aspirations, as well as education and employment opportunities for teen mothers, are all affected by getting pregnant as a teen. The role of healthcare in teenage pregnancy is to help prevent these negative impacts by providing youth and their families with necessary support services and teenage pregnancy prevention and education services. Creating awareness of these issues, supporting teen mothers, and teaching youth ways to prevent teen pregnancy are all parts of how healthcare can help communities. 

At HealthCore Clinic, we understand how important it is to empower teens in Wichita to make informed decisions about their reproductive health. Our integrated care approach provides comprehensive sexual education, community programs, and healthcare services to help prevent unintended teenage pregnancy. By offering convenient, affordable medical, dental, behavioral health, and pharmacy services all in one place, our clients have access to everything they need to improve their overall health and wellness. We believe that by overcoming challenges and barriers specific to teens, we can promote a healthy, informed, and empowered generation in Wichita. If you’re a teenager looking for support and guidance, visit us at HealthCore Clinic – we’re here to help!