Although teen pregnancy rates have been declining in the past, it is still a trend that is disturbing. With some having sex as early as 11-12 years of age, the chances of a teen pregnancy are increased. With teen pregnancy comes the need for health care. Unfortunately, there are many barriers to health care for a teen pregnancy.
Education is a must
One of these barriers to health care for the pregnant teen is education. Schools do not educate students about their bodies and the way they work. Parents tend to be uncomfortable about discussing sex education matters with their teens, so any information the teen may get usually comes from their peers. This is not usually an effective means of gathering correct information.
Another barrier to health care for teen pregnancy is income, or the lack of it. Health care is prohibitively expensive for many adults, and even a teen with working parents may not have access to health insurance. When a parent has to decide between rent and food or health insurance, the medical needs are often overlooked. With access to education about pregnancy, and clinics available for teens with no health insurance, there might be a rise in teens seeking out medical care for themselves and their unborn child.
Along with inadequate health insurance and low income parents, teens may face lack of transportation to a health care facility. Many 2 income families have one car, and no support system to turn to in times of need. Often health care is not available within a reasonable distance, or there may be no gas for the second car. Even if there is transportation available, a parent may not be able to get time off from work to take the pregnant teen to the doctor, providing the parent is aware of the pregnancy in the first place.
Shame and Fear
This brings us to another barrier to health care for teen pregnancy. Shame and fear in a teenager can be a powerful motivator for many actions they take. Shame for being pregnant, and fearful of the consequences they may face from a parent can influence a teenager in many ways. One coping skill that stems from these feelings is not admitting to the pregnancy, even to themselves. This, of course, can lead to the teen not receiving any health care until she has progressed far into her pregnancy. This only sets the teen up for possible complications down the road for her and her baby.
With education of parents and teens together, perhaps we can overcome these barriers to health care for our pregnant teens. Communication for all can be a good first step in providing access to health care for both the mother and her unborn child.