CFRP Working Paper Series | W16009

Mom, I’m Pregnant: A Teen Perspective on the Pregnancy Reveal – Who, When, and How

April 2016

Cynthia Osborne, Ph.D. and Nora Ankrum

The University of Texas at Austin | LBJ School of Public Affairs | Child and Family Research Partnership

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ABSTRACT

For a teenager who is pregnant, sharing this news with a parent—or other trusted adult—is an important first step toward making healthy pregnancy decisions in a timely manner. However, drawing on data from 27 in-depth interviews with young parents, our findings suggest that teens often delay this crucial step, sometimes well into the second trimester or beyond; potentially delaying prenatal care, behavioral changes, and other steps necessary for a healthy pregnancy. Our paper describes what happens between the moment when a teenager learns, or suspects, that she is pregnant, and the moment when she—or her partner—confides in a parent about the situation, if at all. The findings suggest that teens’ most salient concerns during this critical time are not necessarily about the health of the pregnancy but about fear of parents’ reaction to the news. This fear can prompt inaction, which potentially delays taking steps necessary for healthy pregnancy outcomes. These findings highlight the need for further research on the barriers teens must overcome to access adult guidance at this crucial time. They also point to the need within sexuality education to discourage delaying communication with parents or other trusted adults about pregnancy and to provide information about health issues—such as the health risks particular to adolescent pregnancy and the importance of prenatal care and behavioral changes—so that teens are aware of the consequences of decisions made, or delayed, during the early stages of pregnancy.

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