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I may be a teenage parent – Please help me
Teenage pregnancy can be an emotional shock, particularly if it’s unplanned. Questions such as “How can I continue my education?”. “How am I going to afford to care for a baby?” may be running through your head.
Before you think any further, go to a reputable medical centre and have a blood test to confirm the pregnancy. If it’s positive and has decided to continue the pregnancy, here are some helpful suggestions
Make an appointment with a professional counsellor/social worker
Teenage life, in general, can be complicated; many changes are taking place, and when coupled with pregnancy, it can be downright overwhelming. It’s important that you keep a level head. Make an appointment with a counsellor or social worker; they will answer all of the questions you may have, provide vital insight and help you prepare emotionally for the birth of your baby.
Discuss the challenges you will face
No matter what your age, becoming a parent has many challenges; in the case of teenage pregnancy: social stigma; financial issues; how to be a parent and continue your education. It’s critical that you stay strong and face these challenges – you’re only caring for yourself now. Your counsellor will help you develop a plan of action which will put the problems into perspective and guide you on how to deal with them.
How to care for your growing baby
Ensure you have a healthy diet
Your baby requires nutrient-rich foods to develop. This means that you have to follow a healthy, balanced diet containing quality protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats. Make sure that you avoid foods that are high in sugar, ‘bad’ fat (saturated fats) and salt.
Vitamins and minerals that you need
- Iron – Proteins such as red meat, chicken and fish are the best sources of iron
- Vitamin D – Helps keep bones and teeth healthy. Lack of vitamin D can cause softening of the baby’s bones, which can lead to a bone-development disease called rickets.
- Zinc – An essential vitamin that promotes rapid cell growth. It is found in lean meat, wholegrain cereals, milk, seafood, legumes and nuts.
- Calcium – Vital for making your baby’s bones and teeth
- Folate – Folate intake helps to prevent congenital disabilities in the baby
Vitamin C – During pregnancy, you need a higher amount of vitamin C due to larger blood volume in to support the growth of your baby. Vitamin C is essential for the formation of collagen, which is especially important in blood vessels.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, please make an appointment with a counsellor or social worker. There is absolutely no shame in asking for help. There is always support available to you; you’re never alone.
Source: Marie Stopes South Africa (Safe Abortion and Post Abortion Family Planning)
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