Teenage pregnancy | Western Cape Government

Teenage pregnancy

Young mom holding her newborn baby

Teenage pregnancy can have a profound impact on your future. Without the proper support and help, a teen mother is less likely to finish high school and pursue a career. 

Teenage pregnancies remain a serious health and social problem in South Africa. Not only does teenage pregnancy pose a health risk to both mother and child, it also has social consequences, such as continuing the cycle of poverty including early school dropout by the pregnant teenager.

Education is one way a young girl or woman can empower themselves to become financially independent. Becoming a mother at a very young age affect your future. Healthcare is expensive and often adds a further financial burden on the family of the pregnant teenager. 

Most teenage pregnancies are not planned and a teenager might not be emotionally prepared to handle being pregnant.

Where can I go to 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 Western Cape Government's Department of Health and Department of Social Development provides a service that offers counselling on a range of safe options available to teenagers, such as adoption.

The service is rendered at most clinics. If the method you prefer is not available at your local clinic, you can ask to be referred to a health facility where the method is available.

expecting mother having an ultra sound.

What are the different methods of contraception? 

Contraceptives are designed to prevent pregnancy. There are various contraceptives that work in different ways. Before deciding on one, take some time to do research to find out which contraceptive will work better for you and your lifestyle.  

Emergency contraception

Emergency contraception can be used after you've had unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy.  You can either take it orally in tablet form or have an intrauterine device (IUD) fitted.

Information and counselling

Many clinics now have a dedicated youth service so that young people can get information about family planning in a comfortable environment.

You’ll have access to information on various contraceptive methods in order for you to make informed choices. If a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) is detected, it will be treated with medication at the clinic or a referral letter may be given to a special clinic. Once a contraceptive method has been chosen, you’ll be monitored for possible side effects in follow-up visits to the clinic.

You can also contact these private facilities for help. 

Centre

Contact Number

Planned Parenthood Association of South Africa (Cape Town)

Tel: 021 762 0700

Marie Stopes (Cape Town)

Tel: 021 422 4660 / 0800 11 77 85

Lovelife Call Centre

Tel: 0800 121 900


Termination of pregnancy

If you are considering terminating your pregnancy, speak to a medical practitioner about the safest methods available to you. The Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act No. 92 of 1996 gives all women the right to a 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. 

Making teenage pregnancy prevention a priority in schools 

Schools in the Western Cape have reported a decline in learner pregnancies over the past 3 years from 2 880 in 2015 to 2 148 in 2017. Although the Western Cape Education Department is pleased with this decline, they’re working hard to provide easy access to information on how to prevent pregnancy‚ choice of termination of pregnancy as well as care‚ counselling and support to all learners.

Together with help of the Department of Basic Education, they’re committed to ensure that all learners’ right to education is not disrupted or ended by pregnancy or birth.

Although the Western Cape Province has the lowest number of teen pregnancies in the country, there's still a need for heightened awareness around teenage pregnancies at schools.

Jessica Shelver, spokesperson for Minister Debbie Schäfer says a study has revealed that many youths are sexually active.

“While an alarming 79% of the 35% [who were sexually active] were not using contraceptives, learners indicated they were too embarrassed to go to a clinic, and contraceptives were dangerous and boring. It shows that more sexuality education needs to happen.”

Earlier this year the Department of Basic Education issued a gazette in which it invited comments from stakeholder bodies and citizens on the National Policy on the Prevention and Management of Learner Pregnancy in Schools.

The policy aims to set out its goals‚ guiding principles and policy themes to stabilize and reduce the incidence of learner pregnancy and its adverse effects on the education system.

In particular‚ the policy seeks to ensure that information is easily accessible to pupils on how to prevent pregnancy‚ choice of termination of pregnancy as well as care‚ counselling and support.

It also commits the basic education system and other roleplayers to providing Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE). This programme‚ according to the department‚ provides "an age-appropriate‚ culturally relevant and right-based approach to sexuality and relationships‚ which explicitly addresses issues of gender and power‚ and provides scientifically accurate‚ practical information in a non-judgmental way".

The government tries to ensure pregnant learners can complete their schooling‚ which requires schools to accommodate the reasonable needs of the learner.

The Department has extended the deadline for written submissions on the National Policy on the Prevention and Management of Learner Pregnancy in Schools.

All interested parties are invited to comment on the policy in writing via email to pregnancypolicy@dbe.gov.za or fax to 012 328 8401. Closing date for comments is now July 30‚ 2018.

The content on this page was last updated on 16 July 2018