This page was reviewed or revised on Tuesday, November 24, 2009 5:01 PM
If you are a teen and pregnant, you have special strengths and needs. You must remember, you are not alone and help is there for you.
Early education, a caring family, and social and medical services are very important, but one of the most vital parts of pregnancy is proper nutrition to make sure the mother and the baby are healthy.
Teen mothers as a rule have no difficulty giving birth. The body is young, strong and recovers quickly. Your chances for a healthy pregnancy are good if you take good care of yourself by eating well, visiting a doctor or midwife early in pregnancy and stay away from drugs, alcohol and tobacco.
Pregnancy is a period of rapid growth just like your teen years. A teenage girl does not stop growing until 4 years after her period begins. So, for proper growth for herself and for her baby, the pregnant teen must eat extra nutrients. However, a lack of money and/or peer pressure to remain "thin" can make this hard.
When the diet is corrected, growth will improve and the risk of high blood pressure during pregnancy (toxemia), pre-mature birth, disability and death is reduced.
During pregnancy, teenage girls need to eat the same kinds of foods as they needed before pregnancy - just MORE. Eating enough calories is the key nutritional need of the pregnant teen. Without enough calories in the diet, protein is used for energy instead of building tissue in the fetus and mother. As a general rule, teen mothers should eat between 2,400 and 2,700 calories per day. Most of these calories should be from a variety of foods found in the 4 food groups; milk products (at least 3 servings per day); meat and alternatives (at least 2 servings per day); grain products (at least 8 servings per day); vegetables and fruit (at least 6 servings per day).
All pregnant teens, despite their body type or size, should be urged to gain enough weight to support the growth of a health baby. Pregnancy is NOT the time to diet. Dieting can harm the fetus.
Taking vitamins and minerals like iron and folic acid may be needed by pregnant teens - especially those who refuse to eat or cannot eat a balanced diet. See your doctor or midwife before taking anything. Supplements can harm the both mother and baby.
There is no proof that that eating less salt during pregnancy is helpful. It may do more harm than good.
Since the mother and baby are one, anything that enters the mother enters the fetus too. Avoid everything from aspirins and laxatives to stronger drugs unless approved by a doctor. Limit tea, coffee or cola to 2 to 3 cups per day.
Alcohol enters the baby’s blood through the placenta and can cause serious harm to the baby. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is a result of alcohol use during pregnancy and can lead to a lifelong learning problems and physical health issues. There is no known safe intake of alcohol for pregnant women, so teen moms should avoid alcohol during pregnancy.
It is well known that smoking mothers give birth to babies with much lower birth weight. It poses a double risk for teens since teenage mothers stand a good chance of having low, birth weight babies. Sadly, the effects of smoking cannot be offset by eating well.
Pregnant teens, like any pregnant woman, should not smoke and avoid frequent exposure to "second-hand smoke."
Preparing for childbirth and parenting is a positive learning period. The event has been shown to improve the health of the teen mother and her child during pregnancy and childbirth.
The Children’s Services Department offers pre-natal classes for Teen Moms that offer choices. We cover topics such as nutrition, lifestyle changes, STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), labour and delivery, well-baby care, breastfeeding, post-partum changes, safety, dating, violence, legal issues, returning to school and birth control.
The information is offered through videos, posters, games and active talks. A delicious meal is prepared weekly, bus tickets and milk vouchers are available and prizes. There is also a chance to link directly with a public health nurse for one-on-one home visits and support.
For more information about the Healthy Babies, Healthy Children Program, please contact:
Children's Services Department
160 Exmouth Street
Point Edward, Ontario N7T 7Z6
Phone: 519-383-8331, ext. 519
Toll free: 1-800-667-1839
Healthy Babies, Healthy Children Home Visiting Program
Parent & Baby Program with drop-in sessions, educational classes, breastfeeding help.
For You Two...alternative prenatal classes for young moms
4U2 Continued.... A support group for young moms