Teenage pregnancy is one of the most life-altering situations a girl can face, and can quickly become an emotional crisis for the entire family. When a teen discovers that she is pregnant, the emotions of pregnancy are frequently accompanied by guilt, remorse, fear and even anger. Dealing with her mother also being pregnant can cause a lot of tension and emotion. While this may seem like perfect reality-television fodder, this scene is not as uncommon as we may think.
While the teenage pregnancy rate fell 40 percent from 1990 to 2008, the rate of pregnancy in 30- and 40-year-old women has been increasing. Women may be more likely to postpone subsequent pregnancies into their 30s and 40s due to advances in reproductive science. "Our toolbox and skills have increased, and we are helping them get pregnant into their 40s," says Dr. Jill Maura Rabin, an OB-GYN at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Manhasset, New York.
Some women may have more difficulties getting pregnant later in life, but unplanned pregnancy also occurs in this age group. "Women in the 40s think they can't get pregnant anymore and have unprotected intercourse, but they can," Rabin said.
According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, babies born to teenage mothers in the U.S. are more at risk for long-term issues affecting their quality of life — poverty, neglect, school difficulties, and mental or physical illness. The mothers of these babies are at substantial risk as well. Many teen mothers do not seek appropriate medical attention during their pregnancies, leaving them at a higher risk of medical complications. Rates of school drop-out are high and many teenage mothers find themselves pregnant a second time within two years. It is common for pregnant teens to experience anxiety or depression, and many may benefit from counseling by a mental health professional.
Having the support of family is key in helping a pregnant teenager come to terms with her situation and make confident decisions. Data from the Teenage Mothers-Grandmothers program in the 1990s supports the belief that pregnant adolescents who have good communication with their mothers are less likely to drop out of school, have a lower repeat pregnancy rate and significantly higher self-esteem.
When a teenage girl is pregnant at the same time as her mother, a new set of emotions is added on top of those she is already struggling to cope with. There may be some jealousy, anger or resentment of the mother’s impending pregnancy.
One of the pregnant teenagers on the TLC show (Liz) described her reaction after learning that her mother was also expecting. ”This kinda sounds selfish, but I kinda wanted the attention on me and my baby,” she told ABC News. “So I was like, ‘Are you freakin’ kiddin’ me?’” Mothers who find themselves simultaneously pregnant with their teen daughters may feel embarrassed, ashamed or envious. All of these emotions make it more difficult for the mother to offer the maternal support their teenage daughter may need to get through her pregnancy.
While being pregnant at the same time as your teen is not a desirable situation, by keeping the lines of communication open you can support each other during this difficult time.
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