Single Teen Parenting

Single teen parenting is one of the toughest obstacles any teen may face in their young lives. Parenting is a tough job for even older adults who are more stable financially and have a higher education. However, there are tips for single teen parenting that can help with the road to successful parenting and life.

Single teen parenting is a road that is tough for any young teen mom or dad to have to face while their biggest worries should be about passing their classes and getting into college. However, things happen and once you become pregnant as a teen and decide to keep the baby, the most important thing to consider is how to become a good parent. Learning and practicing good parenting skills before you have the baby are helpful to prepare you for what to expect as you become a parent. There are a few different areas to consider when taking the steps to prepare for being a single parent.


Financial struggles are some of the toughest parts of being a single parent for any age parent. However, single parents in their teen years are likely already unemployed because they are still in school. If a teen does have a job, it is likely that they are making minimum wage and will not be able to continue to afford working there after they have the baby.  Teen pregnancy statistics indicate about 70 percent of high school teens that get pregnant do not graduate from high school. Because of this startling statistic, that means it can be even more difficult for a teen mom to get a higher paying job to support herself and her baby or child as they continue to grow and need more financially. Fortunately there are monetary assistance programs that can help single teen parents. Some of these resources include, government assistance programs like Medicare and Medicaid, Women Infant Children (WIC) and other assistance programs to help single teen parents get jobs and finish school.

Aside from government financial assistance programs, there are other ways or receiving financial support including from child support. Even if you are not with the other parent anymore, if they are still physically capable of paying child support, there is no reason they shouldn’t be doing so. If they are refusing to pay child support, contact the court or an attorney to get legal advice on how to pursue the situation legally. Support from your parents might or might not be a viable option when it comes to single teen parenting. Some parents can afford to help their child out financial, while some cannot. Be sure to talk to your parents about being a possible resource. At the very least, hopefully your parents can be there as an emotional support system.

Knowing what you’ll need:

If you are still in the pregnancy stage of your single teen parenting struggles, you will need to begin preparing for the baby by accruing items they will need including, a crib, clothing, bottles, diapers, food, toys and so much more.

Single teen parenting resources:

  • Your parents or other trusted family and friends
  • Parenting classes
  • Online assistance
  • Other single moms

When you are encountering troubles with single teen parenting, you might find that you feel incredibly alone. However, that is not the case and you simply need to know where to look to find others you can relate to emotionally, and know where to go to educational assistance toward single teen parenting information. Rely on your parents, family and friends to help you through the emotional times as a single teen mom. Remember, most of them have probably been through pregnancy and parenting before and probably have dozens of tips on how to parent and raise your child. There are also parenting classes available specifically teen moms and dads who are single or otherwise to help them learn the basics of parenting including changing a babies diaper, dressing, bathing and feeding them. There are so many resources to be had online as well. Dozens of baby support forums as well as blogs and message boards that are dedicated simply to being a single teen parent. Rely on those to help you connect with others in your same situation. Meeting other single moms is also a helpful way to develop a support system. You can rely on one another for emotional support as well as to just have someone else you know who is going through the same day-to-day struggles that you may be facing.


Prenatal Care

Prenatal care refers to all of the care that a pregnant teen or woman receives from a health care provider while she is pregnant to keep both her and her baby as healthy as possible and to recognize any problems at the earliest possible stage. Prenatal care is ongoing and works best when the regularly scheduled appointments are kept. In fact, research has shown that babies of women who have received prenatal care are less likely to have a low birth weight or even die, than if the mother did not receive prenatal care.

Prenatal care may be provided by different health care workers. These include an obstetrician, who is a medical doctor; a midwife; or a nurse practitioner with a specialty in obstetrics.

A typical prenatal care plan will involve a monthly appointment during the first six months of pregnancy, biweekly appointments in the seventh and eighth months, and weekly appointments in the ninth month.

Overall, prenatal care includes advice about a range of topics including expected weight gain, food and nutritional supplements, sexual activity during pregnancy, hydration, and physical activity during pregnancy. Also included is guidance for handling any medical conditions or illnesses that the pregnant woman may have with treatments that are least likely to harm the baby. Along this line, a first time mother will also receive advice about things to avoid, which include but are not limited to:

  • alcohol and teen pregnancy
  • over the counter and prescription medicines unless prescribed by the health care provider overseeing the pregnancy, as well as the use of any illegal substances
  • smoking
  • insufficient rest
  • unbalanced diet

The health care provider may recommend particular vitamins, with particular attention to folic acid. If a woman is planning to become pregnant, beginning to take folic acid three months prior to becoming pregnant is currently recommended. Also, when a planned pregnancy is being considered, making sure that the mother has received all necessary immunizations, particularly those like rubella and chicken pox that are known to harm unborn babies.

Another aspect of prenatal care is assisting pregnant women to know what to expect for the duration of their pregnancy as well as the process of giving birth. Topics of discussion are likely to include:

  • the calculated due date and how long before or after the woman might give birth
  • tests that may be performed during pregnancy: what they are and what their purpose is
  • Braxton Hicks contractions, also called “false labor”
  • signs of labor, such as lightening, effacement and dilation of the cervix, nausea, breaking of the waters, etc.
  • the stages of labor and how it progresses
  • choices that can be made about the baby’s delivery (hospital, special birthing rooms, various birthing practices, etc.)
  • the expected length of the hospital stay
  • recommendations of childbirth classes
  • under what circumstances a cesarean section might be necessary and the basics of what that would entail
  • the role of the labor coach

Particularly for first time mothers, some discussion of care of a newborn may also be discussed.


Child Support

There are so many issues, responsibilities and pressures a new teen mother or father must face including child support. In cases where the teen parents are not planning to stay together in a relationship, child support is a necessary responsibility that must be considered.

What is Child Support and How Does it Work?

When it comes to family law and government policy mandated by each state, child support is considered to be the ongoing practice for a regular or periodic payment made directly to one parent, by the other parent, for the financial care and obligatory support of the children or child of a relationship or marriage that is currently terminated, or in some cases, never existed in the first place. Generally speaking, the obligor is typically the non-custodial parent. The obligee that usually receives the money is the parent, guardian or care giver that has primary custody of the child or children. Gender does not play a role in who owes what money to whom when it comes to child support. In many situations when there is joint custody of the children between two, the court will decide which parent should serve as the obligor and the obligee. This is often decreed during the divorce or marital separation portion of a civil union or marriage.  However, child support does not always need to be a court mandated situation. In some situations, the parents of the child are able to arrange for child support outside of the courts. However, in most situations, it can be quite sticky and complicated, which is why child support cases are usually taken to the courts for a judge to make the final decision of who owe who what and how much they owe.

Child Support and Pregnant Teen Issues:

For pregnant teens, it is important to talk to your partner or father/mother of your child to determine which parent should have primary custody, what kind of role the non-custodial parent will play in the life of the child and how child support should be handled. In these situations, unless the parents of the child can come to an amicable agreement, it is a good idea to take the matter to courts to determine exactly how much the non-custodial parent should have to pay. New parents, especially teens, may not have a clear idea of how much it actually costs to raise a baby and may not know how much to ask for in the beginning. This could result in the non-custodial parent not taking on a fair share of the financial costs associated with caring for an infant and child under the age of 18. In most situations, this is why it is a good idea to simply take the matter to the court and allow the judge to decide an appropriate amount based on the income of the non-custodial parent. In situations where there is a divorce or legal separation, child support and visitation will be likely handled in the same court proceedings. However, if the teen parents have never been legally married or joined in any way, child support and visitation will have to be addressed as a separate matter in the courts.

What is Child Support Used For?

The money received from child support is to be used for the child’s expenses including food, shelter, clothing and education needs like a college fund or if the child is in private school. Courts have also deemed it acceptable for the child support monies to be used for the benefit of the custodial parent. For example, the custodial parent can use child support to pay for the heating expenses in the child’s residence even if it means that others will benefit from living in a heated home or one with electricity and other living fundamentals.  Some child support orders may be earmarked meaning they must be used for specific items for the child like daycare or medical expenses.

Child support and punishment:

If the court has made a legal decree for the non-custodial parent to pay the other parent or obligee a certain amount each month, or however often it has been determined, and they do not pay, it can be punishable in the eyes of the law. However, the only way the parent cannot be punished for lack of payment is for the other parent or obligee to withhold contact or visitation rights. However, a non-custodial parent is also still required to pay child support even if they have been given restricted or forbidden visitation right and contact with the child. Punishment for failure to pay child support usually results in the courts garnishing wages of the non-custodial parent and sending that money to the obligee in order to make up for back payments owed. In some situations when the non-custodial parent refuses to pay or simply does not pay for an extended period of time, this is a crime recognized by the courts and can sometimes result in jail time, revoked drivers license, inability to apply for a business license as well as increased fines and other repercussions.

It is important for pregnant teens to realize the obligation and responsibility that comes with being a parent, regardless of your age. Paying child support is mandatory and important for the non-custodial parent. The custodial parent should also not be afraid to demand payment of what they are owed to help take care of their child. All child support regulations enforce the idea that every parent should practice the obligation to support his or her child, meaning emotionally as well as financially.


Weight Gain During Pregnancy

Weight gain during pregnancy is an issue every pregnant woman or teen faces wondering how much weight is healthy to gain in order to have a healthy pregnancy without excessive weight gain. It is important to know how much weight gain during pregnancy is healthy depending on your size.

Many pregnant teens do not practice healthy weight gain during pregnancy. Some teens are scared they will gain too much weight and instead try dieting. However, these practices can greatly damage the health of the unborn baby and can cause serious problems once the child is born. 

How much is healthy weight gain during pregnancy?

  • Typically it is safe to gain about 25 to 35 pounds while pregnant. However, it also depends on your height and average body weight. Not all women who are built more petite will gain that much. The reverse is also true; taller, larger-framed women might gain closer to the top of the recommended weight gain scale. Gaining weight during pregnancy is crucial in the development of the baby to do so properly and to avoid other developmental or health problems once the baby is born. 

Where does that extra weight go?

  • Baby = 8 pounds
  • Placenta = 2 to 3 pounds
  • Amniotic fluid = 2 to 3 pounds
  • Breast tissue = 2 to 3 pounds
  • Blood supply = 4 pounds
  • Fat stores for deliver and breastfeeding = 5 to 9 pounds
  • Uterus increase = 2 to 5 pounds
  • Total = 25 to 35 pounds of weight gain during pregnancy

Is it safe to lose weight while pregnant?

  • In most cases, it is not safe to lose weight while pregnant. If you do plan on losing weight, it is a good idea to consult your doctor beforehand to find out any recommendations or advice. Typically however, weight loss is discouraged because it could result in mother losing too much weight while trying to maintain healthy weight gain during pregnancy. 

What is the best way to ensure healthy weight gain during pregnancy?

  • It is a misconception that you are “eating for two” while pregnant. However, you do need to eat more than you normally do. The best way to have a healthy pregnancy diet this is to eat more of healthy foods. Don’t fill up on soda and other empty calories to prevent unhealthy weight gain during pregnancy. 
  • Eat five to six small, meals frequently throughout the day.
  • Eat healthy fats like peanut butter and nuts. 
  • Pregnancy exercise should be moderate but can help you stay in shape while pregnant, and will prevent you from gaining extra weight, which can be difficult to lose after giving birth. 

Keep in mind that weight gain is normal during pregnancy. Many pregnant teens are too afraid of weight gain and do not take care of themselves properly throughout the pregnancy, which often poorly affects the baby. Ensuring  healthy weight gain during pregnancy is also a good indicator that you will quickly lose most of the baby weight following delivery.

Health Risks for Pregnant Teens

Pregnant teens can experience a number of different types of health risk, some of which include risks to the mother alone, some to her unborn child, and some to both of them. Some health risks for pregnant teens are due specifically to the mother’s age, and of course, this cannot be changed. However, other health risks to pregnant teens are due to behaviors that are choices, and these have the potential to be addressed, once it’s clear to the pregnant teen that the particular behavior poses a risk to herself and/or her baby, or both.

The first risk for pregnant teens, which can affect both the mother and her baby, is not recognizing that she is pregnant. A woman of any age who is pregnant and unaware of it is likely not to get the nutrition she needs to sustain both herself and her unborn child. She will not take steps to get prenatal care, which would provide her with the special vitamins to support her pregnancy, and will likely not have received any preconception counseling and care. Lack of prenatal care may result in complications of pregnancy going untreated.

In addition, whereas a woman of any age who knows she is pregnant will either receive advice to or know to avoid certain risks, which include anesthesia, even over-the-counter drugs, alcohol (which an underage teen might legitimately consume during a church or synagogue service, for example), and cigarettes, a pregnant teen who has not realized she is pregnant or doesn’t know they’re important will not take these steps. Teens are more likely than women over 25 to smoke when they’re pregnant, and this raises the chances of complications involving the placenta.

Another risk for pregnant teens is high blood pressure, or pregnancy-induced hypertension. Related is the risk of preeclampsia, in which hypertension, edema (swelling) and protein in the urine are combined. Both are serious for both mother and child and require medical attention.

Teens who are pregnant are more likely than older women to become depressed, to have unrealistic expectations about life with a baby that are shattered when the baby is born, and may feel anxiety, guilt, or fear about the pregnancy and the future. Teens who are adversely affected psychologically and emotionally should receive assistance from a mental health professional who specializes in working with teens.

Teens are also more likely than older women to go into labor prematurely and—related to this—to have babies with low birthweights of less that 5.5 pounds. In addition to being small because they haven’t had the time to grow in the womb that a full-term baby has, premature babies (those delivered before 37 weeks), may have other problems with his or her vision, digestions, respiratory system, or have cognitive issues.

Both teens and women with unplanned pregnancies are more likely than other women to have post-partum depression, and this can make it more difficult for a new teen mother to take care of her infant.


Premature Birth

Although premature birth can occur in healthy adult pregnancies, the chances of a teenager experiencing a premature birth is much higher.  Read this article for more on teen pregnancy and premature birth rates.

Teens can be faced with so many temptations like smoking, alcohol, drug use and sexual pressures. It is important for teens to realize such behaviors can result in unplanned pregnancy, and with unhealthy lifestyle choices could result in premature birth.  

Because the majority of teen pregnancies are unplanned, the teen mother may not have the best nutrition or may not be partaking in good lifestyle choices during the course of her pregnancy, which can result in premature delivery and other problems for the baby. 

Potential Causes of Premature Birth in Teen Pregnancy:

These factors are often the causes during the course of a pregnancy resulting in severe problems for the baby like premature birth. This is a problem found often in many pregnancies, but is found more often in teen pregnancies because the teen may not understand the risks of participating in such harmful activities throughout the course of their pregnancy. 

The likelihood of a premature baby surviving it’s first few days of life are largely dependent on it’s weight at birth. Smoking is the cause behind 14 percent of premature births, according to the American Lung Association.

Even if the baby does survive being born prematurely, there is a high chance of lifelong illness.

Risks of Premature Birth: 

  • Lung development and breathing issues for the infant
  • The baby’s other internal organs may not be fully developed
  • Heart disease may be a lifelong issue for the child

According to an article ran by BBC News, an Irish research team discovered that pregnant teens are more likely to give birth prematurely and to have babies with a low-birth weight. Of teens under age 17, 21 percent were likely to deliver prematurely, according to the study. Researcher Ali Khashan, from University College Cork, in the Republic of Ireland, said these cases of premature birth in teen pregnancies were most likely the result of biological immaturity, meaning the teen mother is not ready physically or emotionally to deliver a healthy baby.

Underweight teens have a higher chance of delivering prematurely as well due to poor nutrition and a lack of prenatal care. Poor nutrition during or right before pregnancy is a largely contributing factor in increasing the chances of premature births in teen pregnancy. It is important for teens to understand that poor lifestyle choices are best to avoid during pregnancy, but eating right during their pregnancy is also an extremely important part of delivering a healthy baby.

Often teens are scared to discuss their pregnancy right away with parents, doctors or other trusted adults resulting in the first few months of pregnancy, which are the most crucial to fetus development, without much care.

It is important for both teens and their parents to maintain an open communication in matters such as teen pregnancy. If the pregnant teen feels they cannot discuss such issues with a parent, it is still a good idea to consult a trusted adult, teacher, adviser or doctor. Teens also need to keep in mind that not drinking, smoking and doing drugs are crucial to delivering a healthy baby. Maintaining proper nutrition can also help ensure a successful delivery. 

Sources: American Lung Association,,