Teenage pregnancy stats may be on the decline in the last decade but many young girls are still delivering babies before their 20th birthdays. Teen moms don’t need judgement, punishment or society’s disdain. They need help. If you’re a teen mom, you need help. No one raises a baby alone. I’m a single mom. I was almost 30 when I had my son. I still get help from others. Bottom line, if you’re searching for teenage pregnancy help, then it’s likely the “deed” is done. The baby is coming. So let’s get over the notion that teens need to be “taught a lesson” or any other archaic notions and help them create better lives for their babies.
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Teenage Pregnancy: Where do you turn to for help?
When you’re dealing with teenage pregnancy, you’ll need help in several different areas. Some are common to all pregnancies: health, nutrition, decent maternity clothes. The resources we’re sharing for those needs are actually beneficial to anyone coping with money problems during their pregnancy. With teenagers, you also have the added challenge of getting them through school. I’ve broken the teenage pregnancy help sections down by different needs to make it easier for you to find exactly what you’re looking for.
Prenatal Care & Emotional Support
Adequate prenatal care is vital to all pregnancies, but it’s especially important in teenage pregnancy. Younger women are still growing and developing. The younger the girl, the higher her risk of pregnancy complications. If you don’t have private insurance, look into state-funded programs like Medicaid. Even if you were told in the past that you don’t qualify because of your income, the limits are often much higher when you’re pregnant. You’ll need proof of pregnancy (from a doctor, your drug store pregnancy test doesn’t count) and your basic income information to get started on the application.
A healthy mind is just as important as a healthy body. The Nurse-Family Partnership is another great service offered to low-income families and pregnant teenagers. Visit the website to find out if they operate in your area. The program pairs you with a nurse. You’ll meet with your nurse partner on a regular basis throughout your pregnancy and into your baby’s first two years for education and emotional support. Take a look at Stephanie’s story to learn more about the program:
If the Nurse-Family Partnership doesn’t operate in your area, check into other similar programs by calling your local department of human services.
Pregnant teens aren’t just “eating for two,” they’re also eating for their own still-growing bodies. Eating right matters. If you can afford it, hire a nutritionist to sit down with you and go over all the requirements. Developing a personalized plan is a great way to make sure your teen is eating exactly what she needs based on what she actually LIKES. A one-size-fits-all plan just doesn’t work when we’re talking about teenage pregnancy. I’m almost 40 years old and I can’t even follow a general eating plan because I’m so picky!
If you’re struggling, WIC (Women, Infants & Children) is a fantastic resource. The income limits are a little more lax than those for the SNAP (food stamps) program. During pregnancy, WIC provides vouches for important foods such as milk, peanut butter, cheese, cereal, whole grain bread, juice and more. While you don’t get enough food to feed you for the entire month, it definitely helps fulfill the basic requirements.
You local food pantry is another resource for making sure you have enough to eat. Again, the income requirements are not as strict as SNAP and you don’t have to jump through quite as many hoops to get it. Typically, you can get a supply of emergency food the day you apply. Then, you go on a schedule (some allow you to go weekly, others on a monthly basis) to pick up food. The supply depends on availability.
Maybe you’re thinking maternity clothes aren’t a need. In that case, you’ve apparently never tried to shove your ever-growing belly into regular clothes that don’t fit right. Maternity clothes provide support and offer comfort. Squeezing into tight jeans when you’re six months pregnant isn’t just uncomfortable, it can actually hurt your baby. So yes, maternity clothes definitely count as a need.
Honestly, this is the easiest need to fulfill. Finding free or cheap maternity clothes is a total cake walk compared to applying for the programs you need to help you fill the other needs. Your best bet? Simply ask around. Ask friends and family members if they have any maternity clothes left in the back of their closets or bins in their garage. Ask on Craigslist, Freecycle or a local Facebook garage sale group. If asking doesn’t work, start calling churches and women’s groups. You may be surprised at how willing to help they are.
If you can’t find free clothes, your next step is finding cheap maternity clothes. Head to the Goodwill or thrift shops. Look on eBay. Start hitting garage sales if it’s warm enough outside. You may not find stylish free maternity clothes, but at least you’ll find something comfortable. You can always bug a friend who happens to be great with a sewing machine to help you make them your own.
We actually have a great post on how to find help to finish school during your teenage pregnancy, so I’m going to direct you to that. One of my favorite tips from that article: online school. Education has changed so much since I was a student many years ago. Teens have so many more options. Cyber schools let them work at their own pace (more or less, they are still expected to turn work in within a reasonable time), so they can work when the baby naps. It’s also private for teens who are feeling self-conscious about going to school with a growing belly.
This last one, I’m talking directly to teens here, so pay attention, please. If ANYONE ever makes you feel unsafe, PLEASE get help immediately. This includes your parents, the father of your baby, your friends, or the little elderly lady down the street. ANYONE. No one deserves to be abused, either emotionally or physically. This goes for any time, not just in cases of teenage pregnancy. Call the police first. If they can’t (or won’t) help you, call social services. You can also visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline or call them at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).
Can you think of any teenage pregnancy help resources that I missed? Please let us know in the comments.