Did you know teen moms - ages 15-19 - experience postpartum mood disorders at a rate DOUBLE that of "adult" mothers? That means up to 40% of teen moms are facing these disorders along with things like graduating high school, dealing with judgmental parents/friends/community, lack of resources, co-parenting with another teen or being a single mom, applying for college, working a minimum wage job, etc., and there are SO FEW resources for them to deal with them. Even if a teen mom gives her child up for adoption, I can't imagine the pressure and chances of developing depression/anxiety is any less. If anything, it could make it worse.
I think some must think that teens are just being teenagers when presented with the idea that a teen mom is struggling with adjusting to life as a mom and therefore don't bother to build resources specifically designed for them. And I think others must think we should treat teen moms like any other mom. But the problem with that is judgment does exist among mothers - even to mothers of the same age - I've never felt more judged in my life than when I became a mom - and these moms need someone they can relate to. Someone they can see and speak with who can say, "I've been there, it sucked, and here's what I did to help me through it."
This issue was brought to my attention last week during my text shift for the Postpartum Support International warmline (503-894-9453) (we don't handle crisis situations - except they do sometimes come up) where we match women with local coordinators who can help them find counselors/psychiatrists/support groups in their area. This line is staffed by volunteers from around the country/world - so we don't always have someone on, but normally, so reach out anytime and someone will be in touch with you within a few hours.
Anyway, last week, during my shift, a 16-year-old new mom reached out who was dealing with baby dad issues, mom issues from her mother, judgment from her church, distancing from friends, etc. and basically she was feeling judged and isolated and just down. Who wouldn't? Being a teenager is hard between the hormones, the peer pressure, and the fact that most things happening around them are out of their control. Add pregnancy hormones to that, then postpartum hormones and I feel like it's a recipe for disaster. Especially when there's so little for them to turn to for help and acceptance. This is when I realized "why the fuck didn't I write about this in my book?! Why didn't I know this was an issue" and I felt really bad about it - so this is me trying to rectify that a little.
I did some research online yesterday and sadly I didn't find much.
One website I found is "Teen Mom NYC" but it's a blog that hasn't been updated in two years ... but there are still some good resources on there and you can at least read about the experience of teen moms.
-Here's the link to their "helpful links" to other teen-based resources they found.
-Here's a Teen Mom Facebook group - it doesn't look too active right now, but worth a shot.
-Here's a more active FB group.
Seni.org was apparently developing a teen initiative, but when you click their link, it looks like it didn't really go anywhere, or they walked it back - hard to tell.
Unbelievably that's it. That's all I could find in about 2 hours worth of searching. That's insane. And so sad. We can do better, we need to do better.
If you have any resources that you think a teen mom could benefit from, please share them in the comments or email me at goodmomshavebaddays.com and lets help these girls get the help and support they need, doing one of the hardest jobs there's ever been!
(A note about the image ... this was the Degrassi Jr. High episode my health teacher showed us in 7th grade to have the sex talk. In the episode Spike has sex on her period convinced if you have sex on your period you can't get pregnant. Clearly that's false and she ends up pregnant. Great lesson on how things work, but there's nothing in the rest of the episode or series about what pregnancy means for her as a human - what it does to her hormones, her identity, only what it means for her socially, her parents etc. and that's not OK. I know that was from the 80s/early 90s but I don't think we're doing much better now. The times have changed, but the way we treat teen moms has not and it's high time it did.)