My 16 year old daughter is pregnant. I know it took a lot for her to tell me, but I'm glad she trusts me enough to tell me the truth and ask for help. The only problem is, I don't know how to help her. I wasn't prepared to be a grandmother and the thought of my baby having a baby scares me. I'm a single mom myself and I know how hard it was to raise a child without a partner. My parents tried their best but I still felt very alone and depressed post-partum. I want to be the rock for my daughter in this difficult time that I didn't have in my life. I thought 16 and Pregnant was just a TV show, but now it's my life. Can you please tell me how I can help her?
Future Favorite Grandma
Dear Future Favorite Grandma,
The fact that your daughter felt comfortable enough to come to you for help is amazing! This means that you've already cultivated a safe space for open and honest conversation, which is key when tackling any obstacle in your teen's life.
Your daughter is likely feeling anxious, scared, and stressed on top of all of the physical changes pregnancy brings. Supporting her should be your number one priority.
Here are three tips to support your pregnant teen:
1. Check your own emotions.
You're likely feeling an array of different emotions ranging from shock to excitement and everything in between. Be sure to work through your feelings to provide the best support possible. You can find other parents of pregnant teens or seek professional help to talk through your feelings.
2. Promote prenatal care.
Pregnancy affects teens differently. Your daughter will likely experience both physical and mental health changes during her pregnancy, so it's best to be prepared. Teens are among those with high risk factors, so getting proper prenatal care is essential. Go with your daughter to any doctor appointments and assist her in lifestyle changes. Make sure she is eating healthy and encourage exercise. Don't forget, her mental health is just as important as her physical health! Therapy and counseling options are available to connect her to professionals and peers going through the same experience.
3. Prepare for the future.
Think about the future in terms of finances, your daughter's education, and postpartum mental health issues. Teens are more likely to experience postpartum depression, so it's important to be prepared for that possibility. Acenda offers a variety of programs to help new and expectant parents to help through the pregnancy process and promotes strong family bonds.
For more information about Acenda's Motherhood Advocates and Maternal Health Services, please call 856-431-4180.