“When it comes to pregnancy, we automatically assume that ‘congratulations’ from loved ones, family and strangers is part and parcel of being with child. That is, unless of course, you are pregnant at a young age that society deems unacceptable. When I fell pregnant at 19 I found this out the hard way.
But do you know what? I think young moms have every right to celebrate their pregnancies. And most importantly, they should.
One of the things I hear the most about a young mother experiencing pregnancy in her teens to early 20s is how many times she is denied the right to celebrate it. She isn’t celebrated. She’s judged. Frowned upon. Interrogated with incredibly invasive (and rude) questions about her situation that women much older aren’t subject to in pregnancy.
She feels weary and untrusting towards health care givers because those interactions become another source of interrogation or criticism.
She is constantly told by society and during pregnancy that her prospect of a good life is slipping away and she’ll amount to nothing worthy.
And the only thing this kind of severe judgment and criticism serves a young Mom is to perpetuate feelings of:
Which in turn affects her parenting ability and significantly contributes to higher rates of perinatal depression and anxiety disorders.
That’s pretty messed up right?
On the other hand you have some platforms that do glamourize teen pregnancy. TV shows like MTV’s Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant plus huge influential, pop culture icons like Kylie Jenner showcasing her life as a young Mom but it’s very easy to forget that most young Moms don’t have TV shows or incredibly wealthy, famous families behind them.
Celebrating your pregnancy is not sticking a f**k-off sized neon sign to your head saying ‘HUGE TEEN PREGNANCY ADVOCATE RIGHT HERE.’ No. It’s not telling people that you think pregnancy at a young age is a brilliant idea and you’re encouraging other people to do the same. No.
But it IS giving yourself permission to celebrate something that is incredibly sacred and special. Children are a gift to this world. They are literally the future generations and have so much potential in them from birth and beyond to be amazing contributors to our planet. You are a gift to this world as a mother. Being a good mother and role model to these younger generations plays a HUGE part in that – you play a huge part.
You know what else? You’re not going to be as young as you are now forever. With each passing year you’re going to get older and the people who judged you and shamed you when you were that young first time Mom won’t give a sh*t how old you are in later years because you look an “acceptable” age to be a Mom. Trust me – it’s what happens.
Motherhood is sacred and valuable and needed. It’s incredibly important and to be tasked with the gift of raising a person from birth should be smothered in an abundance of support and encouragement to do the best you can no matter how old you are.
For some young Moms, they may only go through pregnancy and birth ONCE in their lives. Even if it’s 2, 3 or 4 times – out of the whole context of your life that’s not a huge number of times to go through pregnancy or birth. You will remember your pregnancy and birth experiences for the rest of your life. Please don’t let negative people, comments, judgments or beliefs completely destroy that experience for you.
I’m not going to sugarcoat young motherhood either. Of course, it’s difficult and faced with many challenges that older first-time parents don’t necessarily experience. There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration when becoming a young Mom.
Celebrating your pregnancy is an intimate experience between you and your baby. It can be an opportunity to turn your life around and have something more to encourage you to strive for a better life. A lot of young mothers claim that their babies were a huge turning point to do better with their lives and that’s important feedback to listen to. If someone is motivated to do better, we should be facilitating ways and support to help that desire come to fruition. Enough with the shaming.
I hope that the biggest take home message is that it doesn’t matter HOW you celebrate your pregnancy, please just DO celebrate it. This is your life, your one and only precious life and you have every right to enjoy it along the way and celebrate your journey into motherhood. Don’t give your power away to anyone who doesn’t deserve it or to beliefs that aren’t for your highest good.
And for those who may not be young mothers themselves, simply say “congratulations” with a smile on your face whenever you come across someone who is pregnant or has recently had a baby. Regardless of how old they are but especially if they are younger.
It’s one very simple way to show kindness towards a young mother in a world that can be incredibly cruel towards them.
Young Moms are capable of doing great things with their lives with support and encouragement. Don’t write them off before they’ve even had a chance to prove you wrong.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Roxanne Ford. Submit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our best love stories here.
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