Hearing the words “I am pregnant” may feel like a parent’s worst nightmare when finding out you have a pregnant teenager saying she is 6 weeks or 7 weeks pregnant, 8 weeks pregnant or more. Dealing with the earth-shattering news that your daughter is pregnant, or your son and his girlfriend are experiencing an unplanned teenage pregnancy, can be one of the scariest and most difficult situations to deal with.
Hearing you have a pregnant daughter likely came as a shock, and you may be feeling upset, angry, disappointed, hurt, embarrassed and scared about the changes now taking place in your pregnant teenager’s life and body. It can feel as if “our lives are ruined” with hopes, dreams and plans for her future forever shattered into pieces, and thoughts of “where did I go wrong?” keeping you up at night and unable to sleep. Your pregnant daughter was undoubtedly worried sick about “how do I tell my parents I’m pregnant”, and she needs your love, support and guidance, not criticism, blame or ridicule.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the statistics of teen pregnancy are falling to 40.4 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19 years. The statistics are good news, but it doesn’t change anything for a parent dealing with a teenage pregnancy. The reality is that your daughter is pregnant and a mother-to-be, and you are going to be a grandparent.
Take a deep breath, and calm your racing thoughts and emotions. Most teen girls have the “it won’t happen to me” belief, yet there are two lines showing “positive” on the pregnancy test, removing all doubt that pregnancy can and did happen. Telling your daughter her actions were irresponsible is one thing, but yelling at her and calling her names won’t do anything to change the fact that she is pregnant.
Even if you have discussed sex with your teen, encouraged abstinence or birth control, teen pregnancies do happen and the life-altering consequences of getting pregnant are very real for parents and their child. Your daughter is pregnant and scared, and the father of the baby is dealing with his own fears and concerns about becoming a father. Thank your daughter for coming and telling you, which is the right thing to do, and let her know you will support her 100% of the way.
Your daughter has the right to decide what she wants to do with her pregnancy. If your daughter decides she is keeping the baby, as opposed to putting the baby up for adoption or getting an abortion, your daughter’s health and the baby’s health must be your primary concern. Immediately make an appointment with a doctor or clinic to begin the monthly visits and evaluations to ensure your daughter and baby are getting needed prenatal care, vitamins and professional medical attention.
Help your daughter ensure she’s eating right for a healthy pregnancy, getting needed exercise and eliminating any unhealthy vices such as smoking, drinking or drugs. Teens who become pregnant often decide to drop out of school. Encourage her to stay in school, complete her education, graduate from high school and plan for college. Many schools offer teenage parenting programs, so make an appointment with the school counselor to discuss the available options for your daughter.
Encourage and help your daughter by having her read pregnancy books like the What to Expect series, along with the pregnancy journal and organizer, which includes information on what to eat while pregnant, the week-by-week changes and stages during pregnancy, weight gain during pregnancy as well as important information about dealing with morning sickness, basic baby care etc, so she is better prepared for what is to come.
Your daughter and the baby’s father will need to decide if the baby will be born in a hospital, a birthing room, a birthing center or even a home-birth assisted by a doctor and/or midwife, and your daughter will want and need your guidance and suggestions. The father of the baby also needs to read books about pregnancy and parenting such as The Expectant Father series, in order to better understand and deal with his own feelings about becoming a father, the week-by-week changes taking place with the baby and mother, preparing him for fatherhood and responsibilities of caring for a baby.
You also need to accept that while you are the mother to your daughter, your daughter is the baby’s mother and you must allow her the needed space to be the mother of her own baby, and handle the responsibility to parent her own child. Your suggestions, guidance, advice, love and support are certainly needed, but don’t confuse your role as grandparent to the point where you are driving a wedge between you, your daughter and the baby’s father.
Some grandparents-to-be have the tendency to confuse accepting the pregnancy and condoning teenage pregnancy, but they are not the same. You likely wish you didn’t have to deal with your daughter being pregnant as a teenager, but wishing it weren’t so and the hope of waking up and discovering it was all just a terrible dream is an unrealistic fantasy and you must let it go. Your daughter, and the father of the baby, likely already know you don’t condone teen pregnancy and it’s time to accept it and make the best of it.
Babies raising babies, or teens raising babies, is very hard to do. Your lives will never be the same again and your pregnant daughter and the father of the baby will undoubtedly grow up very fast, in ways neither of them can even imagine. Be supportive, loving and helpful now and throughout the future. You will be glad you did, and the teen parents will be forever grateful and appreciative of your efforts.
Join CafeMom, which is an online support group for women, mothers and moms-to-be, where you and your pregnant daughter can discuss with other women and moms topics about pregnancy, parenting tips, suggestions and ideas about taking care of a baby, with other moms and grandparents just like you. CafeMom has a very active group of young mothers between the ages of 16-25 that your daughter will surely enjoy and receive additional emotional support throughout her pregnancy and after the baby is born.
Birthing Options – Natural Childbirth Options For Expectant Mothers
Baby Needs Checklist: Basic Baby Needs for Newborn Babies
The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips, and Advice for Dads-to-Be