by Charlene Bazarian
Whether by chance or by choice, teen pregnancy remains a modern-day reality. While many aspects of what is considered the traditional family unit have evolved quite a bit over time, there seem to be many misconceptions and even a reluctance to openly discuss the health and wellness of pregnant teen girls. Dr. Kymberli Boynton, psychologist, publisher, of Serenity Wellness & Innergy Magazine and television personality shares her insights and helps dispel some myths about issues that pregnant teens and young mothers face. Dr. Boynton not only advocates for and counsels many young women facing early motherhood but speaks from first-hand experience as having had her own first child at the age sixteen.
Teen Pregnancy: Dr. Kymberli Boynton’s Expert Input
*Myth: Pregnant teen girls will not be able to complete their high school education and are essentially sacrificing the dreams or goals they have had for their future pre-pregnancy.
While completing schooling can be more challenging for pregnant teens and young mothers, many schools and programs offer support and flexibility to help teen mothers graduate. Finding and utilizing all the support available is so important. It is often the young women who don’t have existing strong support systems in place such as friends and family or those who don’t know how to access aid and assistance that often end up dropping out and quitting school.
*Myth: Teen pregnancies are always unplanned.
While it may be common to assume a teenage pregnancy is unintended, some young women intentionally become parents and plan their pregnancies. While, it may be incomprehensible to some people as to why, it is an occurrence that needs to be considered.
*Myth: Teen girls can’t have healthy pregnancies.
Teen pregnancies can pose additional and unique challenges, but with proper prenatal care and support, teens can have healthy pregnancies and give birth to healthy babies. I advise my clients to be sure to go to all their prenatal appointments, to take prenatal vitamins, and to continue as best they can with their normal activities. Some of my tips to my young, pregnant clients are to be sure they are staying hydrated and to perhaps swap out any existing less-healthy beverage choices, such as soda or sugar-laden coffee drinks, for water or lower-sugar electrolyte drink selections. I also stress that they should avoid risky behavior that could harm their baby such as high-contact sports, activities that could lead to a fall or any drugs or alcohol.
*Myth: Teen moms are more likely to have multiple pregnancies.
Teen mothers are statistically no more likely to have multiple pregnancies per se, but they may have more children over time if they don’t use contraception consistently. Education and awareness of contraceptive options are vital for all young women of childbearing age.
*What are some practical strategies you recommend for pregnant teens to improve their overall emotional and physical wellness?
Maintaining a healthy diet and workout routine during pregnancy, including teen pregnancy, is vital for the well-being of both the mother and the baby. Some of my tips to help ensure a healthy pregnancy are:
- Consult a healthcare provider promptly! It is essential to start by consulting a healthcare provider that specializes in prenatal care. They are best equipped to provide guidance tailored to your specific needs and monitor your pregnancy’s progress.
- Eat a balanced diet. Focus on a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and calcium-rich dairy products. Ensure you get essential nutrients like folic acid, calcium, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids. Avoid empty calories, processed foods, and excessive sugar.
- Aim for smaller, more frequent meals. Eating smaller meals more often throughout the day can help manage nausea and maintain steady energy levels.
- Stay hydrated! Drink plenty of water to stay well hydrated, as dehydration can lead to complications during pregnancy.
- Move! Engaging in regular, safe, moderate-intensity exercises as recommended by your healthcare provider can help improve your overall fitness and ease discomfort.
- Listen to your body. Pay attention to your body’s signals. If you’re experiencing any pain, dizziness, shortness of breath, or any unusual symptoms, during exercise or at any time, stop and immediately consult your healthcare provider.
- Help create a strong pelvic floor. Consider incorporating pelvic floor exercises, such as Kegels, into your routine to help prepare for labor and postpartum recovery.
- Be aware of the changes to your body during pregnancy. Monitor your weight gain as per your healthcare provider’s recommendations. Teen moms should aim for a healthy weight gain range that aligns with their pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI).
*What advice would you offer young women based on your own experience of being a teen mother?
In some respects, there seems to be a bit more acceptance and understanding today that was not my experience. I do believe, however, that there needs to be further efforts to support and not stigmatize young women who are having a baby. I felt very isolated and cut off socially once it became known that I was having a baby. The father of my child was forbidden to see me by his parents and most of my friends seemed to likewise abandon me. My experiences helped shape my strong desire to help support youth and teenagers navigate trauma and stress with compassion. My advice to any young woman who is going to become a mother is to seek out as much support as she can. Seek out the emotional and social support you need from family, friends, and healthcare professionals. Motherhood at any age truly takes a village! With the prevalence of social media, there are many support groups that can connect you with others in similar situations. I would also recommend inquiring into any public aid assistance or services that may be available if needed.
Finally, I would say to remember that every pregnancy is unique. What works for one person may not work for another. Always follow the guidance of your healthcare provider, as they can provide personalized advice to ensure a healthy pregnancy and childbirth experience.
About the Expert:
Photo by The Silent 13 Studios
To learn more about Dr. Kymberli Boynton you can visit www.kymberliboynton.com and connect with her on social media @Kymberli Boynton. Dr. Kymberli Boynton and her dedicated team at her wellness center offer a wide range of services tailored to diverse needs, including couples, families, individuals, adolescents, and LGBTQ+ therapy. Their comprehensive services also encompass medical management, covering medication, IV drips, nutritional guidance, weight loss plans, women’s health issues, and more. To schedule a consultation or appointment, please visit www.serenitywellnesscenter.net. Keep an eye out for her upcoming Talk Show, “Keeping It Real With Kym,” co-hosted by Sean Kanan, scheduled for a spring 2024 premiere.
About the author: Charlene Bazarian is a fitness and weight loss success story after losing 100 pounds. She mixes her no-nonsense style of fitness advice with humor on her blog at Fbjfit.com and on Facebook at FBJ Fit.