Your teenage child is pregnant: your feelings
You might have mixed feelings when you hear that your teenage child is going to be a parent.
For example, you might feel shock, anger, disappointment and concern about your child’s future. There could be regret that you didn’t do enough to stop the pregnancy from happening. And you might wonder about what extended family members, friends and people in your community will think.
On the other hand, you might think it’s wonderful and feel excited about becoming a grandparent.
Your feelings might also change over time, especially as the time of birth comes closer.
If you need help to work through your feelings, talk to your GP. They can refer you to a psychologist or another mental health professional if you need it. You’ll be better able to support your pregnant child if you look after your own wellbeing too.
Your teenage child’s feelings about pregnancy
Your teenage child is probably going through some intense and mixed feelings about the pregnancy and the idea of becoming a parent.
For example, your child might be looking forward to parenthood. But your child might be worried about telling you and finding out how you feel. There’s also the worry about what extended family and other people will think, now and after the baby is born. Or your child might not be sure whether they want to have a baby and be a parent at all.
You can help your child work through their feelings by actively listening and not judging. This can help your child figure out what kind of support they might need for their pregnancy. Listening and talking with your child is also good for your relationship and can make a big difference to your child's wellbeing.
Antenatal care and birth choices for pregnant teenagers
Pregnant teenagers might need specialised antenatal care because their bodies are still growing and developing.
Depending on how involved your child wants you to be, you might be able to help your child organise their antenatal care, including:
- a first appointment with their GP
- regular antenatal appointments
- routine antenatal tests
- antenatal classes
- teen-specific antenatal care, if this is available where your child lives.
Even if you help to organise your child’s antenatal care, it’s important for your child to talk privately with their health professionals. This will help your child learn to be responsible for their baby’s health later on.
Also, it might be a good idea if you can have an early conversation with your child and the father of their baby about how involved they want you to be in antenatal care and birth. This can help you understand their needs and boundaries.
Your pregnant child will be going through many changes and feelings. Understanding pregnancy changes from week to week can help your child cope with what’s going on.
Health and wellbeing in teenage pregnancy
If your teenage child is pregnant, health professionals will talk with your child about staying healthy in pregnancy. This includes:
- eating healthy food
- doing physical activity
- not smoking or vaping, not drinking alcohol and not taking illegal drugs
- getting help for pregnancy health problems, including morning sickness
- managing stress
- watching for signs of antenatal anxiety and antenatal depression
- getting to know their baby’s movements.
It’s important for your child to learn to make healthy decisions for themselves and their baby. You can help your child by being a good role model and doing things together with your child. This is often better than telling your child what to do.
For example, you could do things like:
- sharing healthy recipes and cooking healthy food together
- doing physical activity, like walking, together
- quitting smoking yourself, or at least not smoking around your child
- avoiding alcohol yourself, or at least not drinking alcohol around your child
- encouraging your child to stay connected with supportive friends
- encouraging your child to do things that they enjoy and that help them relax.
If your child is worried about anything or doesn’t know what to do, you can suggest your child talks to their pregnancy health professionals.
Some teenage parents-to-be can feel anxious, frustrated, angry or overwhelmed. Sometimes this can even lead to teenage violence in the home. If you notice your teenage child struggling with these feelings, you or your child can get help by calling the National Domestic Family and Sexual Violence Counselling Service on 1800 737 732 (1800RESPECT). You can also get online counselling at 1800RESPECT.
Education, employment and financial support during teenage pregnancy
Your teenage child has a right to education and work during and after their pregnancy.
Education is the key to a positive future for your child and their baby. You can help your child talk to school, TAFE or university support staff about a plan for continuing their education during and after pregnancy.
If your child has a job, they’ll need to discuss work and leave arrangements with their employer. Your child can take a support person when they talk with their employer, and this might be something you can help with.
Your child might be able to get income support from the Australian Government. You and your child could look together at Services Australia’s Payment and Service Finder to find out whether they’re eligible.
When your child’s baby is born, you’ll be a grandparent. It might be good to think about what kind of grandparent you want to be and how big a role you want to play in raising your grandchild.
Services and support for parents and pregnant teenagers
You and your teenage child can get guidance and information from pregnancy and early parenting support services.
These services include:
- Brave Foundation
- Core of Life
- Healthdirect Australia
- Parenting helplines and hotlines
- Pregnancy, Birth and Baby.
Our parent and family services article also has links and resources that can help you.