Becoming a parent is a lifelong responsibility that requires emotional maturity, support from family and friends, and active involvement from the biological father. Adjusting to parenthood is difficult for some first-time parents, even those who plan their pregnancies and have successful careers. An unplanned teenage pregnancy can be challenging for young parents experiencing it and for the families connected to the young parents. Without the proper support and help, a teen mother is less likely to finish high school and pursue a career. Most teenage pregnancies are unplanned, and a teenager might not be emotionally prepared to deal with becoming pregnant.
According to StatsSA, 129 223 births occurred among adolescents in a public health facility in 2019, and 8,9% of those occurred in the Western Cape.
Teenage pregnancy can happen for the following reasons:
- There’s a lack of sex education in a household,
- contraceptives are not being used, or used incorrectly,
- There’s a financial dependence of women on men,
- and peer influence.
Teenage pregnancies remain a concerning health and social problem in South Africa. Not only does teenage pregnancy pose a health risk to both mother and child, but it also has social consequences, such as continuing the cycle of poverty, including early school dropout by the pregnant teenager.
Where can I go for help if I’m pregnant?
If you suspect you may be pregnant, you can visit your nearest clinic to ensure that you and your baby are safe and healthy.
The Department of Health and Wellness and the Department of Social Development in the Western Cape provide a service that offers counselling on various options available to teenagers, such as adoption.
The service is available at most clinics. If the method you prefer is unavailable at your local clinic, ask for a referral to a health facility where it is available.
Information and counselling
You’ll have access to information on various contraceptive methods for you to make informed choices. If a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) is detected, the clinic will treat it with medication, or they might give you a referral letter to a special clinic. After you choose a contraceptive method, the clinic will monitor you for possible side effects in follow-up visits. You can also access valuable information from the B-Wise programme. The website is easy to navigate via phone or computer and provides information on mental health, teenage pregnancy, family planning and STIs. https://bwisehealth.com
What are the different methods of contraception?
Contraceptives are designed to prevent pregnancy. Various contraceptives work in different ways. Before deciding on one, take some time to research to find out which contraceptive will work better for you and your lifestyle.
Emergency contraception, also called the morning-after pill is readily available, and you can use it to prevent pregnancy after having had unprotected sex. Take emergency contraception as soon as possible after unprotected sex or if you suspect that your sexual contraception has failed.
Termination of pregnancy
If you are considering terminating your pregnancy, speak to a medical practitioner about the safest methods available. The Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act No. 92 of 1996 gives all women the right to free abortion (termination of pregnancy) at a government hospital or clinic during the first three months of pregnancy. Women of all ages have the right to an abortion and should never be denied the service because of their age.