Becoming a teenage mother is confronted with parental responsibilities at a time when a teenage girl has to deal with her own intense development with profound physical changes, as well as cognitive, affective, moral and social development. How a teenage mother responds to pregnancy is related to her early childhood experiences, coping mechanisms, personality profile, psychological function, life situation including social support network and physical status. These findings illuminate that pre-childbearing characteristics can be a risk factor for adverse outcomes among certain teenage mothers. One factor that has been found as having a negative effect on both mother and child is maternal depression. Depressive symptoms and postpartum depression are commonly reported in teenage mothers and are of particular concern since depressive symptoms are linked with poor general health. There is empirical evidence showing that the prevalence of depressive symptoms is higher among teenage mothers than among older mothers. A significant propotion of teenage pregnancies result from positive, idealised attitudes to pregnancy, parenthood and personal changes that teenagers believe will ensue. Indeed, it has been suggested that postpartum depression might be a result of disillusionment after previous idealisation of pregnancy and parenthood. The complex interplay of the pre-childbearing factors makes transition into parenthood particularly challenging. In this context, it is clear that teenage mothers require social support in and outside the health care system.
Last date updated on June, 2014