Tammy is a 17 year old and recent high school graduate. She has dated Steve for the past 2 years, but discussion was never had about marriage. She found out that she was pregnant before graduation. Tammy currently lives in a small town, which means that residents must travel to a larger city for health care resources and shopping. At Thanksgiving, Tammy went into preterm labor at seven months and was transported to the emergency room. After giving birth, doctors found that the baby was not just premature, but was also suffering from developmental abnormalities. When Tammy was asked if she received prenatal care, the doctors found out that she had not because she could not afford the care and did not know where to go for help. Statically, “teenage mothers are much less likely than woman older than the age of 20 to receive early prenatal care…” (McKenzie). Prenatal care could have changed the course of Tammy’s pregnancy and the infant’s life. The following discussion will examine how prenatal care could have made a difference in this situation, how Steve’s involvement could have changed the outcome, what impact these situations have on our society, and discuss two programs that would have helped Tammy during her pregnancy.
Prenatal care ensures the health of the mother and the fetus. This preconception health care allows physicians to assess the risks of the pregnancy, certain treatments and risk reduction action, and education on pregnancy. There are multiple benefits of prenatal care including the mother’s health, nutritional information, tracking the baby’s development, scheduling appropriate testing, and learning the options for labor and delivery (Overlake OBGYN). First of all, had Tammy received prenatal care, she would have had scheduled appointments in order to track her baby’s development and any risks would have been assessed prior to just going into preterm labor. She would have received prenatal vitamins in order to keep her and the baby healthy throughout the pregnancy. She would have had information about labor and delivery, and would have been more prepared for the process. Preterm labor would have been less likely due to a doctor monitoring Tammy’s condition throughout the pregnancy in order to keep her and the baby as healthy as possible. Tammy also would have received education about the early signs of pregnancy related problems. Although, most preterm deliveries have no known cause, research suggests, “prenatal health care and lifestyle changes can help women reduce their risk of having a premature delivery” (McKenzie, 127).
Steve’s involvement could have had an impact on the outcome of Tammy’s pregnancy. Teen mothers are less likely to receive support from the fathers of their children. According to The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, “only 34 percent of teen mothers went on to marry by the time their child was 5 years old… [and] most often these marriages were to the biological father of their child” (King). However, statically, 38 percent of teen mothers who are married prior to the birth of their child are divorced five years later (King). Depression is also very high for teen moms, who become isolated from their friends, which leads to poor health decisions. Steve’s involvement in Tammy’s pregnancy could have given her the support to ask for help when it came to receiving prenatal care and taking better care of herself during her pregnancy.
Studies show that increased prenatal care participation may decrease the likelihood of preterm deliveries. Researcher can definitively say “prenatal care is associated with fewer preterm births in the presence”(Vintzileos). There is a lot of teen pregnancy prevention education in our society, which has reduced teen pregnancy in the United States. However, more education should be given to teen mothers who are pregnant about the importance of prenatal care and the help that is out there for them to receive this type of health care. In the United States, “preterm birth is the most frequent cause of perinatal morbidity and mortality”(Vintzileos). If more education was given to pregnant teen moms about what can happen when they do not receive prenatal care, as a society we could work toward preventing perinatal morbidity and mortality. Perinatal mortality “account[s] for more than 70% of [mortality in] fetuses without anomalies”(Vintzileos). It is important for our society to continue to prevent teen pregnancy, but it is equally important that once a teen mother finds out about an unplanned pregnancy that they are supported and educated about remaining healthy for themselves and their unborn children.
One program, which would have helped Tammy, would have been The Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children, also known as WIC. This program “has proved to be one of the most effective ways to improve the health of mothers, infants, and young child” (McKenzie, 137). The second governmental program, which could have been and could still be beneficial to Tammy and her child is, the Medicaid program and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP is a government-funded program that “provides medical assistance for certain low-income individuals and families, mostly women and children” (McKenzie, 138). These programs would have helped Tammy receive prenatal care and help with her child for the first few years of his or her life, at least. Both of these programs would have been offered to Tammy had see went to her local health department when she became pregnant.
Prenatal care is essential to both the mother and unborn child. Tammy lacked the education about her options as far as help receiving prenatal care and a support system in the child’s father. In order to prevent this from happening in the future, as a society we must take a more active role in educating young women about their option once they become pregnant. This information is just as important as education preventing teen pregnancy.
King, J. T. How Does Being Pregnant Affect a Teenage Mother. http://pregnancy.lovetoknow.com/wiki/How_Does_Being_Pregnant_Affect_a_Teenage_Mother
McKenzie, J. F. (2014). An Introduction to Community Health. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett.
Overlake OBGYN. (2014, June 17). 5 Important Benefits of Prenatal Care. http://overlakeobgyn.com/5-important-benefits-of-prenatal-care/
Vintzileos, A. M. (2007). The Impact of Prenatal Care in the United States on Preterm Births in the Presence and Absence of Antenatal High-Risk Conditions. https://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/41241202/The_impact_of_prenatal_care_in_the_Unite20160115-30103-1ftb3uc.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A&Expires=1517717617&Signature=m88Zh9%2FY6SlHFpvwf6Roa%2FdU8JQ%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DThe_impact_of_prenatal_care_in_the_Unite.pdf