Early pregnancy: definition, complications and advice

Grossesse précoce : définition, complications et conseils

In France, early maternity remains a rare occurrence. They account for just 2% of births. This is due not only to good access to contraception, but also to the fact that women are getting older before having their first child. Every year, however, hundreds ofteenage girls become mothers. But what is early pregnancy? And can it lead to complications for young girls and their future babies? Let's find out.

What is an early pregnancy?

An early pregnancy is a pregnancy occurring in girls under 18 years of age. Depending on the case, the term may also apply to women under 20.

From puberty onwards, teenage girls undergo transformations and hormonal changes that contribute to the development of their reproductive organs. However, girls of childbearing age are not always ready to bear a child and become mothers. This is why it's called "early pregnancy".

What causes pregnancy in young girls?

The causes of pregnancy for young girls vary according to the country in which they live, as well as their socio-cultural context. In France, teenage girls generally become pregnant as a result of :

  • an unsuitable contraceptive method (for example, a prescription pill that is often forgotten);
  • Risk-taking on the part of girls and boys (who believe that the withdrawal method is effective);
  • sexual violence.

What are the risks of early pregnancy?

In theory, an early pregnancy is no more risky than any other. Contrary to what one might imagine, the complications recorded by doctors are not due to the youth of the teenager's body. They arise from the socio-economic context and psychological maturity of the mother-to-be.

For the young mother

Teenage pregnancy can be considered risky if it is discovered late, deliberately ignored or simply undetected. In all three cases, follow-up will be inadequate, and young girls will be unable to undergo the mandatory screening tests or benefit from the advice of a health professional.

As a result, they may suffer from nutritional deficiencies, excessive excessive weight gain or iron-deficiency anaemia. The risky behaviors of some teenagers often make the situation worse. Fortunately, the pregnancy of a young girl in good health and aware of her future maternity can go very well!

For the baby

A young mother who does not receive prenatal care and engages in risky behavior (smoking, drugs, alcohol, poor diet, etc.) exposes her baby to a variety of complications. The main problems observed by the medical profession are :

  • Numerous cases of prematurity;
  • Newborns suffering from hypotrophy (very low birth weight);
  • Intra-uterine growth retardation and increased risk of malformations .

What are the medical follow-up and delivery procedures for an early pregnancy?

Medical follow-up for an early pregnancy is the same as for a conventional pregnancy. The mother-to-be must attend seven compulsory consultations with a gynecologist or midwife. She will also undergo various medical examinations such as blood tests and ultrasound scans.

Thedelivery of a pregnant teenager is considered risk-free if the gestation period has been normal. It will be no more difficult, except for girls whose pelvis is still forming. In this case, the medical team may use forceps or a Caesarean section.

Being a pregnant girl: a difficult early pregnancy

Becoming a mother in your teens can be difficult. The young mother will have to manage her new role while continuing her life as a teenager. And she will sometimes have to face up to the way others look at her early pregnancy.

Motherhood and teenage life

Psychologically speaking, an early pregnancy can be very destabilizing. Adolescence is sometimes synonymous with uneasiness and major soul-searching. Motherhood, on the other hand, is a real identity upheaval.

A very young mother may therefore find it difficult to manage her life as a teenager and her role as a mother. Staying in school will inevitably be complicated, unless she receives help from her family (parents or grandparents).

A teenager or young woman who has recently given birth to a child will be able to thrive just as well. And all the more so if the pregnancy was wanted, if she is in a relationship or if she is well surrounded.

Confronting social judgment

An early pregnancy is very often subject to judgment from the young mother's social circle , but also from society in general. Numerous teenage mothers testify to the lack of kindness shown to them. Some report being insulted in the street, or having their doctor look at them with pity when diagnosing their pregnancy. Others are even rejected by their families and forced to leave home.

This negative view of the teenage mother is rooted in the existence of a norm relating to an ideal childbearing age. We often hear that to have a child, you have to have completed your studies, be in a relationship or married, and be under 35. Girls under 20 are thus judged in the same way as 35-year-old women who have not yet had a baby.

But there are no rules to pregnancy! Every woman is the master of her own choices and can welcome a child into her life as long as she feels ready.

Figures on early pregnancy in France and around the world

The number of early pregnancies has fallen sharply over the past thirty years in France. In 2018, Insee estimated the number of newborns whose mothers were born after 1998 at around 2%. The institute did note, however, that early births were more numerous in the north of France and in the overseas departments. In French Guiana, for example, the rate was 10.2%. In Aisne and Nièvre, the figure was 3.2%.

In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) conducted a survey on teenage pregnancy in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). It reveals that 21 million girls aged 15 to 19 are expecting a child every year, and that 50% of these pregnancies are unwanted. Of these early pregnancies, 12 million will come to term.

Early pregnancy FAQs

How can I avoid an early pregnancy in a school environment?

To avoid early pregnancy in schools, it is essential to implement prevention strategies. Students need to be educated about sexuality and the importance of contraception.

What are the signs of early pregnancy?

Teenage pregnancy presents the same signs as an ordinary pregnancy: delayed menstruation, nausea, breast tension, chronic fatigue and so on.

What to do in the event of an unwanted early pregnancy?

Young women faced with an unwanted early pregnancy can have a voluntary interruption of pregnancy (abortion) up to 16 weeks of amenorrhea. They are free to discuss the matter with those around them, and to make an appointment with a doctor or gynecologist. They can also go to a family planning center, which will respect their anonymity.

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The information contained in the articles on www-elia-lingerie.com is general information only. Although reviewed by health professionals, this information is not error-free, does not constitute health advice or consultation, and is not intended to provide a diagnosis or suggest a course of treatment. Under no circumstances may this information be used as a substitute for medical advice or consultation with a healthcare professional. If you have any questions, please consult your doctor.