You’re pregnant, and you’re keeping it

Young mother

It’s official: You are pregnant. Here’s what to expect as a young mother-to-be, as well as where to find support online.

Regardless of whether or not you are in a committed relationship, an unexpected pregnancy in your twenties can be challenging. Between post-secondary school and a burgeoning career, there is a lot going on when you’re 20-something, and adding the challenges of being a young mother can be overwhelming. If you’re here, you’ve obviously made up your mind: You are keeping your baby. So what’s next?

The challenges of young motherhood

Tara Pringle found herself unexpectedly pregnant at age 20, while still in college. While her family was incredibly supportive, not everyone was thrilled: “I could tell at first that there was definitely some disappointment, especially from my dad,” she says. “He was struggling a bit; I definitely noticed he wasn’t spreading the news like my mother was.” Pringle said it wasn’t until after her daughter was born that her father seemed to be at peace with becoming an early grandpa.

You need to be prepared to face negative stereotypes about young mothers. Pringle says, “People see being a young mother as more as a challenge, not a normal part of life.”

Expect the issue of money to come up early and often: It’s been estimated that it costs $200,000 to raise a child from birth to age 18, and that’s not including educational costs. If you are still in post-secondary school or a recent graduate, the money issue becomes even more dramatic. Statistics Canada says that the average student graduates with anywhere from $13, 000 to $20, 000 worth of debt depending on their level of education.

Overcoming challenges as a young mother

Now 23 and the mother of two children under the age of 3, Pringle defies every young mother stereotype. Not only did she attend college classes right up to her due date, but she wrote her final exam a week after delivering her daughter via C-section, and received an A.

“It is going to be a little bit different, as a younger mother, because you might not have the salary you want, the career you want, the solid relationship with your significant other that you want… But you just have to do what feels right for you, and not let society dictate what kind of mom you’re going to be.”

Resources for young mother:

The Young Mommy Life
Billed as ‘a real look at a 20something mom,’ this blog is written by Tara Pringle, a 23 year-old mom of two. Expect the real dirt on having and raising babies: “As a 20something mom, I don’t have $500 to spend on a stroller and I don’t have a ton of ‘mommy friends’ to go to for advice when I’m this close to jumping off the roof.”

Young Mommies
For young mommies, by young mommies. This online community offers chat, message boards and online communities, as well as city-by-city resource guides for young moms-to-be. The goal of this website is to support and inform young mothers, to better equip them for the challenges of parenting.

Women’s Health Matters—Pregnancy
This website takes first-time mothers through every stage of pregnancy and beyond, including tips for living with a newborn, breastfeeding, taking care of yourself and what to do if you’re feeling overwhelmed. For women who live in Toronto, the site also features links to resources and programs offered by The Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. The site is run by The Women’s College Hospital.

The Sensible Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy
Published by the Public Health Agency of Canada, this guide for expectant mothers covers everything a pregnant woman should know about lifestyle choices: nutrition, exercise and emotional health are all addressed in this guide, as well as the effects of smoking and drinking on your baby. It also has a ten-month calendar to help track pregnancy milestones.

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One Comment

  • Olivia Scobioe
    October 7, 2009 | Permalink |

    I also got pregnant at 20. Six years later I’m now married, with a new baby and working on my Masters. Babies are, well, kinda awful as first, and I found family support is key if you have it. Also – it’s a great time to go back to school. You schedule is flexible and there are a lot of grants and financial aid for single parents. Plus – it takes four years to do a Bachelors degree, which is perfect because by the time your baby is ready for kindergarten (which in Toronto will soon be a full day program) your ready to go back to work with a better commanding pay.

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