Tag Archives: pregnancy

Teen Pregnancy & Educational Outcomes


We see plenty of anecdotal evidence that teen pregnancy has an adverse impact on the educational outcomes of teen mothers, yet does research verify many of our notions. Health Educators and Social Workers gather observational data as we speak to our clients and when we pose the question of why our teen moms are not doing well in school or have dropped out of school all together, we receive responses such as:

“I don’t have time to study because my baby keeps me up.”

“Being a mom is more important than going to school.”

“I can’t work, go to school, and raise a baby at the same time.”

Any woman who has raised a child can attest to the fact that the rearing of a child takes a considerable amount of work but does the fact that being a mom as a teen really hinder educational attainment? According to the National Conference of State Legislators, Thirty percent of all teenage girls who drop out of school cite pregnancy and parenthood as key reasons. Rates among Hispanic (36 percent) and African American (38 percent) girls are higher. Educational achievement affects the lifetime income of teen mothers: two-thirds of families started by teens are poor, and nearly one in four will depend on welfare within three years of a child’s birth. It evident that the majority of teen mothers face not only the hurdle of raising a child while pursuing their education but all while doing so in most cases with financial burdens.

Research has shown that there is a direct correlation between poverty and educational attainment and those that live in poverty are less likely to graduate or obtain post-secondary education. Furthermore research states:

– Only 40 percent of teen mothers finish high school. Fewer than 2 percent finish college by age 30.

– Young women who give birth while attending a community college are 65 percent less likely to complete their degree than women who do not have children during that time.

– Children of teen mothers perform worse on many measures of school readiness, are 50 percent more likely to repeat a grade, and are more likely than children born to older mothers to drop out of high school.

Teen pregnancy and dropout rates could be more likely attributed to poverty and other adverse social factors especially considering the fact that more affluent teens have greater access to health care, housing, employment, and social supports. While these other social factors may play a greater role in the academic achievement of teen mothers, it is still evident that health educators, school personnel, and policy makers must be aware of the barriers that teen pregnancy has on educational outcomes. One way to mitigate the aforementioned barrier is through the implementation of comprehensive sex education programs, specifically those that target high risk populations and teens that are currently pregnant or parenting.

According to an article published in the Journal of School Health, school-based programs have the potential to help teens acquire the knowledge and skills needed to postpone sex, practice safer sex, avoid unintended pregnancy, and, if pregnant, to complete high school and pursue postsecondary education. A secondary benefit of comprehensive sex education is that it will serve to protect youth from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, which also disproportionately affect urban minority youth. It is evident that there is a correlation between teen pregnancy and poor educational outcomes and it is vital to develop comprehensive measures to promote academic achievement among teen mothers, especially minority teens living in poverty.


National Institute of State Legislators http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/teen-pregnancy-affects-graduation-rates-postcard.aspx

Basch, C. Teen Pregnancy and the Achievement Gap Among Urban Minority Youth, 2011. Journal of School Health.

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Will I Ever Get to be a Grandma?

wonderwomans-biological-clockAs the result of a second marriage later in life, I am a mom of four very eclectic young adults. Our “kids” range in age from 25 through 34. My 30 year old recently sent me an article entitled “11 Brutally Honest Reasons Why Millennials Don’t Want Kids.” Not very subtle, but just a reminder not to count on her making me a grandma. Fortunately, we both love dogs so I can at least be assured of having a dog or two to spoil. There is the possibility of grandchildren from another daughter, but she’s finally having a grand time fixing up their new house, planning trips, and generally enjoying having some disposable income now that her husband is gainfully employed after finishing his PhD. It will be a few years at best.

I certainly understand why people don’t want to reproduce. When I was questioning if I wanted to start a family, I asked several of my fellow teachers who were parents if given the choice they would do it again. Most said no. I was surprised. I’d always loved being around kids and couldn’t imagine my life without being a mom. However, it is by far the hardest job I’ve ever done. Having a child should be a very well thought out decision. Before someone decides to attempt a pregnancy, here are a few things to think about first:

  1. Many young adults will spend years paying off their student loans. Older generations were rarely crippled by debt from student loans. Many young adults feel the need to go on to get advanced degrees and their parents may not be able to help pay the bills. This leaves them saddled with huge debt. Many are underemployed even with a Master’s or PhD.
  2. While everybody says their families are crazy, the fear of passing on mental health issues is real for many. Growing awareness of how many different conditions may be genetically passed gives many educated young adults pause. Do they really want to risk passing something on to another generation?
  3. There are just too many people already. So many of the world’s problems stem from overpopulation, too much waste and too much consumption of natural resources. Why add to that?
  4. Getting pregnant may not be so easy. As couples wait longer to conceive, more are having fertility issues. While new techniques may make pregnancy a possibility, the financial reality is that the costs involved may be beyond many couples’ reach.
  5. Pregnancy is less than appealing to many. The physical stresses of pregnancy are more than many women want to experience. Watching their peers struggle through morning sickness, develop stretch marks, waddle through their work day, posting their complaints and ultimately their birth videos on Facebook, sends terror through many potential parents. Before all this explicit information was available, many first time moms really didn’t know what to expect. Now every potential difficulty is graphically presented.
  6. They may be fearful that they will not be good parents. Nearly everybody wishes their parents had done things differently. Some had truly horrific parents and traumatic childhoods. Some people are afraid they will repeat the mistakes so hesitate taking on the responsibility.
  7. Many females don’t feel the urge to be moms. That’s much more OK now than in the past.
  8. World events make this world a scary place. Need I say more?
  9. After working hard at starting a career, fear of losing that momentum is a concern. Unfortunately, this can still be a reality. Your single or male coworkers keep moving up and you have to take time to give birth, go to doctor’s appointments, take a day when your child is sick etc.
  10. Children cramp your style. Unless you have the funds to hire help, your life will not be the same. Going to the store becomes more complicated let alone sleeping late, taking a vacation, having a relaxing meal or even doing pretty much everything you never thought much about doing without being interrupted.
  11. Sometimes no reason is a reason. Despite nagging parents, family members and annoying friends, you don’t have to explain yourself to anyone. It’s your decision.

Having said all that, my life would have been different in so many ways without my children, some better, some worse. Now that they are adults, I still feel their pain and sadness when something goes wrong but also get to share in their triumphs and joys.

Here and here are some excellent examples of women who chose not to have children.

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Helpful Sexual and Reproductive Health Websites and Apps

Alcoholism-FAQs1More and more people look to the internet to find information concerning their health, which is a good thing when they find accurate information that may empower them to take control of their health. However, the internet can be a dangerous place – there’s a lot of misinformation out there. Here are a few trustworthy websites and apps that you may find useful.

Period Tracker (Fertility & Ovulation tracker and Period Calendar) by Sevenlogics, Inc. This app can track your periods, daily moods, health symptoms, notes, and even the weather, so you can see how they correlate to your cycle days. The app also helps you predict your most fertile days.

Bedsider – Birth Control and Doctor’s Appointment Reminders Do you wish you could have an extra birth control reminder for your pill, ring, patch or shot? The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy has developed a site called Bedsider that allows you to set up a reminder for birth control by texting “MyBC” to 42411 from your U.S.-based mobile phone. An appointment reminder can also be setup through their website that is sent to you a few days before so you won’t forget your doctor’s appointment ever again.

Planned Parenthood – Planned Parenthood has a ton of information on sexuality and reproductive health as well as frequently asked questions on each topic. The topics include women’s health, STDs, birth control, parent resources, teen resources and other sexuality information. Planned Parenthood also has text services available if you’ve have health questions that you want to get answered right away. To text, send a message to 774636 for more information.

Baby Center – Baby Center has an app called My Pregnancy Today. It is a fun way to track the development of the pregnancy and to see how big the baby is by comparing it to the size of a fruit or vegetable. The website also provides a basic guide on nutrition and helpful tips during each trimester. It also has a contraction timer when you are in labor.

WebMDGeneral Medical Information – This website or app can give individuals information on a wide variety of medical topics in easy to understand language while still being medically accurate. I would just caution people not to start self-diagnosing or assuming that they have a condition without consulting with a medical provider. It is a great source for information if someone is looking up a specific health-related topic.

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Fun Friday: When You’re THAT Pregnant!

The end of pregnancy is often equated with being miserable. You can feel HUGE, uncomfortable, and impatient. This post from Distractify reminds us that our animal friends can empathize. See what I mean?


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Could You Be Pregnant?

Most women have asked themselves this question at some point in their lives. Here are the most common symptoms that could indicate you are pregnant:

Missed period – This is the number one sign that you could be pregnant.

Shortness of breath – This is a possible sign if, all of a sudden, you are noticing that you are winded and you normally would not feel this way during a particular activity. If you are pregnant I would suggest getting used to this, especially when you get closer to the third trimester. The baby makes it really hard for you breathe and puts pressure on your lungs and diaphragm.

Headaches – During the first trimester it is common for women to experience headaches due to the changes in hormones. If you think you are pregnant, consult with a doctor before taking a pain reliever.

Mild cramping – This is common and is caused by your uterus and ligaments stretching.

UnknownWeird cravings or dislike for certain foods – Some women experience this to the extreme and will want foods they have never liked, or can’t stand the thought of eating foods they have always loved. I have not had this experience and still want the foods that are bad for me … just in larger quantities.

Lower back pain – This is due to the ligaments loosening and may come and go during the pregnancy. I have experienced this throughout my pregnancy and have noticed an increase in hip discomfort.

Bloating or constipation – Many women will have a decrease in bowel movements and have trouble fitting into their pants. You can thank your progesterone for slowing down your digestive system. This is also something that usually gets worse as the pregnancy progresses. I had a lot of bloating in the first trimester and felt like Violet from “Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory.”

Mood swings – The roller coaster of emotions is very common. I remember watching a news special on TV and I just started bawling. I also find that I am less patient and really have to keep it in check when I communicate with my partner.

Heightened sense of smell – I was teaching a class and another teacher asked me if I wanted a piece of chocolate from his cupboard. I stated that I didn’t want any chocolate but I would love a piece of his cinnamon candy. It turned out that it was gum in a Ziplock bag, placed in the bag of the cabinet. It smelled like it was under my nose!

Swollen or tender breasts – This is very common during the early stages of pregnancy and many women state that it comes and goes during pregnancy. I have had moments where it feels like pins and needles in my breasts.

Darkening of areolas – Everyone will have some darkening of the areolas as the pregnancy progresses. FYI: it is permanent.

Fatigue – This is one of the most common symptoms women experience during their first trimester. They will usually feel a lot more energy during the second trimester, and then back to feeling exhausted during the third trimester. I am in my third trimester and feel exhausted from all of the bathroom breaks in the middle of the night.

Nausea and/or vomiting – This is also very common but, fortunately for most women, they will feel much better after the first trimester. There is, however, a small percentage who may experience these symptoms throughout their entire pregnancy. Thankfully, I did not experience any nausea or vomiting, but many of my friends did during their pregnancies.

Increase in urination – Peeing more often than usual during the day and at night is a common sign. Buy a lot of toilet paper! I get up to pee about 3-4 times during the night.

*If you think you might be pregnant, make sure you don’t put any substances or medications in your body that could negatively affect your pregnancy. You can buy an over-the-counter test or make an appointment with your medical provider and have them perform a urine or blood test. For more information on pregnancy tests, check out this previous post.

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Cryptic Pregnancy

cryptic-pregnancyWhen I first starting hearing about women who gave birth without knowing they were pregnant, I was skeptical at best. I was SO obviously pregnant with my two daughters that I couldn’t imagine anyone not feeling the baby moving around or having a belly that looked like a watermelon. Then I worked with a woman who discovered her pregnancy after five months when she could no longer fit into her pants. She had experienced a close to normal period from the beginning and continued to for much of her pregnancy. I had another friend who didn’t test positive on a pregnancy test until about her seventh month. When the show “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant” came out, I was amazed that this happened frequently enough to create a series. Babies to this day continue to pop out in all sorts of inconvenient places like during airline flights. I realized there must be something to this phenomenon. I just learned this actually has a name, cryptic pregnancy. According to their website, the Cryptic Pregnancy Support Group offers insight into what causes some women to be unaware of being pregnant.

1 in 450 pregnant women don’t realize they are pregnant until week 20 or later. 1 in 2,500 doesn’t realize she is pregnant until she goes into labor. Some women know they are pregnant but since it can’t be confirmed with a test, get no prenatal care or support from family and friends who just think she’s making it up. It’s rarely because they are in denial or have a mental illness as many people believed in the past.

Here is a list of typical things occurring during a cryptic pregnancy:

  • A cryptic pregnancy is when there is little or no detectable hCG being produced so the woman has a negative urine or blood pregnancy test.
  • Continued periods
  • Weight loss
  • Pregnancy symptoms that come and go
  • Frequently during the periods, the pregnancy symptoms will subside. As soon as the period subsides, pregnancy symptoms may return especially during the first few months.
  • Early labor signs may occur on and off for weeks or even months.
  • Bleeding is not a sign of miscarriage. It may be heavy, light, random, or sporadic.
  • Gestational period is typically more than 40 weeks.

For additional research on cryptic pregnancies, click here. And when in doubt, see your health care provider.

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Fun Friday: The Guy’s Guide

Bedsider produced a fun, yet educational series of PSA’s aimed at guys, and today we’re sharing the one about emergency contraception. Enjoy!

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Male Fertility: What Can You Do?

Image via Lady-Comp

Image via Lady-Comp

There has been so much attention paid to good prenatal care for females, but what about the males? It’s pretty much taken for granted that he’s good to go with little forethought to the health of his sperm. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are several things to consider.

If a male is able to ejaculate, he is most likely fertile. A single ejaculation contains about 15 million sperm per milliliter.

Normal sperm have oval heads containing the genetic material needed to reproduce and a long whiplike tail to propel it towards the egg. The more sperm produced with both parts in good order, the more likely he is to be fertile.

The sperm has a long way to go from the tip of the penis through the cervix and uterus and finally into the fallopian tube. If there are at least 40 percent of the sperm able to propel themselves, your motility is considered good and you are probably fertile.

Here are a few things recommended to increase your chances of producing healthy sperm.

Practice safer sex and get STD testing
Chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause sterility in both males and females. Before trying to conceive, both partners should be tested. Using condoms with new partners and checking their STD status can help prevent any unwanted surprises.

Protect your heart: protect your penis and testicles
Anything that is good for your heart is good for your fertility. Keep an eye on your weight. Overweight men have a 20 percent greater chance of being infertile as well as having an increased chance of heart disease and diabetes. If you smoke, stop. Just as smoking damages the blood vessels in your heart, it also damages the circulation to the penis and testicles. No news here, diet and exercise are an important key to a healthy heart, penis and testicles!

Manage stress
Stress can decrease sexual function and interfere with the hormones needed to produce sperm.

Keep cool
Sperm is sensitive to temperature and can be affected by things as simple as having a laptop on your lap for long periods of time, spending extended amounts of time on a bike or seated, or wearing tight underwear or athletic shorts. If these things are an essential part of your life, take frequent breaks.

For additional information, check out “Sex Matters”.

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Loving Your Pelvic Floor

Enjoy this informative and relevant guest post, written by a long-time friend and reader of The Feronia Project.

I am a CrossFit coach and a mom. As a CrossFit coach, I train lots of women on a daily basis. As a business owner responsible for replenishing the supplies of my gym, I know that maxi pads disappear more quickly from our ladies’ room than tampons. This surprised me until I realized that our ladies were using more of the pads because they leak during exercise — specifically jumping rope and box jumps.

Because I have an almost-two-year-old child, I know the struggle of trying to stay dry while jumping rope. While this issue was more prevalent for me during my early days of postpartum recovery, I still experience the occasional leak when I start to fatigue during a workout. Raise your hand if, as you read this, you are nodding your head and saying, “That’s me!” Raise your hand also if you think this is normal.

pelvic floorLet me blow your mind — leakage during exercise, or sneezing, or coughing, or laughing, or yelling at your kids IS NOT NORMAL. Stress incontinence (the clinical term) is NOT NORMAL and it could lead to your uterus falling out. I’m not kidding. Continuing to exercise while ignoring the signs of pelvic floor weakness (ex: incontinence, low back pain, neck pain) can lead to uterine prolapse, which is the uterus (or bladder) slipping out of place and, in a worst case scenario, bulging out of the vagina.

Urinary incontinence is estimated to affect 1 out of every 3 people. Addressing this issue with appropriate exercises can preclude the need for surgery, reduce (or eliminate) low back and hip pain, and most importantly, help keep you DRY! (For more on incontinence – types, diagnosis, treatment – click here.)

LoveYourPelvicFloorWebIt is estimated that 66% of women know WHERE their pelvic floor muscles are, and only 40% of women actually exercise their pelvic floor (see infographic –>). To raise awareness among our female athletes and our friends about how NOT NORMAL stress incontinence is during exercise, my gym hosted a Women’s Health Workshop with physical therapists from Eastern Iowa Physical Therapy that specialize in women’s health. During this workshop, we discussed the importance of posture, breathing, and pelvic floor awareness (it’s about more than just Kegels!).

Here are 5 myths about pelvic floor health that you NEED debunked NOW. This article is a MUST READ!

For more information on how your posture and pelvic floor are connected, check out this informative article.

For more information on how your breathing affects your pelvic floor, and exercises to retrain how you breathe, click here. See also this video, which explains the pressure system that is your abdomen.

There are physical therapists and gynecologists all over the U.S. that specialize in women’s health, which is the diagnosis and treatment of pelvic pain and incontinence. To find a physical therapist in your area that specializes in women’s health, follow this link and be sure to click on “Women’s Health” at the bottom of the form. Most states allow you to go directly to a physical therapist without getting a physician’s referral first. Currently, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the US Virgin Islands allow patients to seek an evaluation and some level of treatment from a licensed physical therapist without a prescription or referral from a physician.

Ladies, it’s time to love your pelvic floor. It’s time to get back in touch with “down there.” It’s time to understand that a little leakage can lead to a host of troubles, including keeping you from having a strong, stable core and dry pants. And ain’t nobody got time for wet pants.

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Fun Friday: Pregnancy Humor


So true. The anticipation makes a month seem like an eternity.

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