So Many Questions…
Experiencing teen pregnancy can be a time of great concern and many questions for the teen mother, father, and their parents. Does life as we know it stop? Why does it seem like no one believes I can do this? How can we insure that our pregnant daughter can continue her life as normally as possible while being responsible for her own child? Is my teen son capable of supporting his pregnant girlfriend and their unborn child? What does happen during later pregnancy, labor, and birth? How will I know what my baby needs when it is born? Can I be totally responsible for my baby or will I need a lot of help? Does childbirth hurt worse when you’re young?
As with any woman, a teen mother’s birth experience will impact the rest of her life. Being a youth does not exempt the teen mother from making choices about her prenatal care, the upcoming birth, and how she will parent her child. During a time of such uncertainty and change of plans for the teen and her family, it can be reassuring to everyone to allow and help the teen mother make responsible and educated choices about her journey into motherhood. This will lay a positive groundwork for the mother’s future life with her child in that as she takes on the responsibility of birth and parenting before the baby is born, and feels empowered, supported, and capable of making positive, important decisions for herself and the baby, she will continue to take on that role after her baby is born.
What can childbirth education offer teen mothers, fathers, and their support persons?
Classes are not only for those choosing natural childbirth. Childbirth education for the teen mother prepares her with accurate, up-to-date information on later pregnancy, labor, delivery, postpartum, and early parenting. It will provide her with a neutral and supportive environment in which to ask questions and express her concerns. Classes will help the mother understand her choices for labor, delivery, and early parenting and that those choices are hers to make. She will leave class with an idea of what to expect on the day of birth, as well as comfort strategies for labor. Childbirth education can help the teen mother be prepared, secure, and confident enough to experience the birth of her baby with joy, and to find her way as a new mother an experience that leaves her with the feeling that she can make a normal life for herself and her baby.
Childbirth education for the support persons of the teen mother whether it is her own parents, friends, relatives, and/or the baby’s father can be a great asset. Classes prepare support persons to be of help to the laboring woman, to comfort her during the hard work of birth, and to be a reassuring voice when things are tough. Attending childbirth classes with the teen will also help assure her that you understand that the journey she is about to take is a very important one and that those attending with her want her to be fully prepared and knowledgeable enough to be the decision maker. It also sends the message that though she is the one doing the work, she is supported in many ways.
How do I choose/find a childbirth class?
Many hospitals and health care professionals offer free classes for the women they serve. It is recommended that you take any free classes offered by your providers, so that you can familiarize yourself with their preferences and policies, as well as their approach to childbirth. Often these classes meet only one or two times, and includes a hospital tour. Independent or more extensive classes should also be found as they are not limited by time or place in the topics they cover. They usually meet for multiple weeks and cover the full range of subjects in childbirth including, pregnancy physiology and emotions, exercise and nutrition, signs/stages of labor, comfort measures for labor, medical interventions that might be necessary along with risks/benefits of each, unexpected outcomes, postpartum, early newborn parenting, and breastfeeding. Independent childbirth educators or those hired by facilities to offer more complete classes should be trained with the most up to date information available. There are many respectable training organizations for childbirth educators including Lamaze International, Bradley, CAPPA, ICEA, and Birthing From Within, but not limited to these. These organizations work to insure that their educators are offering accurate information. Many educators offer classes that are specifically for teen parents, or will offer private classes if that is more comfortable for you.
Changes to Come…
Pregnancy and birth are times of transformation for any woman. A newborn most definitely changes life for all involved in caring for this new little person. For those who choose parenthood, it is a lifetime commitment. For those who make other choices for their pregnancy, they are still making those choices as biological parents and those choices will be ones that are with them for the rest of their life whether the impact is positive or negative for them. So, regardless of what the future holds, you know it holds change. It will require adaptation and responsibility. Childbirth education can help prepare you for some of that. It can also offer a time to bond with your baby before you meet him/her face to face, if you so choose. A baby is not the end of the world… it is the start of a new chapter or the presence of important decisions to attend to, even if unexpected ones.
Many blessing to you and yours,
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