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Teen Moms Need Support!

teen mom

This morning I read about a young woman, a teen mother, who is trying to breastfeed her baby but her high school is making things exceedingly difficult for her to do so.

“The nurse, a counselor and a school administrator recommended Jaielyn only breastfeed her son before and after school hours. This recommendation would not be changed regardless of whether or not a doctor’s note is able to be obtained. This would mean Jaielyn could not pump for or nurse her baby for over eight hours every weekday.”

This makes me sad.  Here is a young mother who is making her first decision as a parent, to breastfeed her child, and is also trying to finish school- which can only help her better provide for her child and I just don’t understand why her school is unwilling to support her!

I was a teen mom. My school had a nursery daycare so I brought my baby to school with me, and I was able to go down to the nursery and feed her during my breaks and at lunch time. It wasn’t disruptive to other students, and I graduated- which I may not have done if I hadn’t had the support of my school. I’m pretty sure I would not have made it to a year of nursing Hannah if I wasn’t able to feed her or pump for a huge chunk of the day.  The school should be, at the very least, supporting Jaielyn’s decision to breastfeed by providing her with a space to pump.

I realize that my school was not the norm- and that many schools do not have the funding, space, or need for a daycare.  The school I went to was in the same town as a busy teen mom shelter, I guess they made accommodations for the girls from the shelter. I’m beyond grateful that this was set up.  The school also gave me a home tutor when SPD made it too painful to walk in my last two months, and they gave me another six weeks with the tutor after the baby was born.  I was an emancipated minor living in a shelter at the time and life was rough for me and for Hannah.

I’ve seen a few people say that things shouldn’t be made easy for teen moms, because it just makes more girls want to have babies.  That’s rubbish- Its going to happen- regardless of whether they help these young moms or not. But at least when the moms are supported they are more likely to finish school and perhaps even go on to college.  Being a teen mom is tough- even when you have lots of help.  My friends, those who stayed in touch after I moved to the shelter, were not envious of my life.  They saw me struggle through caring for an infant alone, juggling feeds and homework and trying to find a job, fights with other girls in the shelter, the abandonment of my baby’s father and even several awful rounds with mastitis because I had no idea what I was doing.  It was certainly not fun or easy.

I hope that Jaielyn’s school finds a way to accommodate her pumping schedule.  A little support and understanding will go a long way to make life so much better for mother and baby.

UPDATE:  Info courtesy of Jupiter

If anyone would like to advocate for this teen mom, here is contact info for the school
Assistant Principal John Berry: jdberry@lf.k12.de.us
Principal John Filicicchia: jfilicicchia@lf.k12.de.us
Nurse Denise Blades: dmblades@lf.k12.de.us

Lake Forest High School


18 Responses to Teen Moms Need Support!

      • You’re welcome :-)
        I couldn’t have said this better myself. We didn’t have a daycare otion at my high school but my school nurse was very supportive of my breastfeeding and gave me time & space in her office to do whatever I needed to do during my studyhalls and lunch period. And that was 23 years ago! I’m sad this is something that needs addressed.

  1. that is just frustrating. i think it is just plain stupid not to support teen moms. why treat them differently than any other mom?
    it reminds me of when i was in nursing school. the student nurses were offered no help at all when we were at clinical sites. but that isn’t how it is in a hospital. we all work together. so stupid. teen moms need the support so they can grow and be good mothers instead of struggling and being angry. :(

  2. I wish she was in NJ, or that DE had the same laws. In NJ it is the law that anywhere a woman is allowed to be, she has the right to breastfeed. Also, by stopping her from either feeding or pumping for 8 hours a day they are effectively stopping her from being able to breastfeed. If she is forced to go that long without pumping or feeding her supply will drop, and possibly even stop. She will also be at risk for infection, because women are not biologically designed to be “part-time” nursing moms.

    It is a terrible statement about our educational system that they feel that undermining her choice to do what is best for her child in this insidious way. Either the educators do not understand human biology, or they are actively trying to stop her from being able to do what is best for her child.

  3. I am sad for this, and totally unsurprised. This country is so behind the rest of the world with the importance of breast-feeding. My sil, in Brazil, received more maternity leave than is offered in the U.S. Then, after my adorable nephew was born, her work scheduled was tailored to not interfere with her breast-feeding schedule. Why doesn’t this country realize how important it is to give our children EVERYTHING they need to succeed? That includes support and education of teen mothers. They are children too, after all.

  4. As a teen mom, I gave birth to my daughter one month after my 17th birthday. I had the absolute support of my partner in all my choices; but he lived in another state and I had no help to be found. I lived with my parents and they refused to help to “teach me a lesson” and refused to let my spouse visit and tried to restrict me from seeing him. As a result, my daughter saw him once in person after she was born (he was able to be there) when she was three months old. We had to resort to daily skyping, and it was heartbreaking for her not to be able to be with her daddy. She didn’t see him again until her first birthday, in which I was 18 and able to leave on my own.

    I changed every diaper, I breastfed every day and night and she didn’t have a drop of formula. It was hard. I had already graduated school early and it was HARD even though I was basically a stay at home mom. I can’t imagine how hard it would have been if I hadn’t already graduated. Even though my spouse was in another state he made enough money that we didn’t have to resort to government programs and I could stay home with her. It was very hard with such a hostile environment to my parenting. My mother questioned every one of my choices – including “allowing a baby to suck on my tit.” At 6 weeks, 6 months, 10 months, 12…14… I was asked “When will you stop THAT? Why should you let her anymore when she can eat REAL FOOD?!?!”

    I ended up moving 1,000 miles away with my now-husband. Our daughter is still breastfed, and we have been TTC for two months with an early miscarriage last month. It is really damaging to a teen’s sense of worth as a person and as a mother (as it would to ANY mother) to have restrictions put on them by society because of society’s expectations (or lack thereof) and their warped cultural ideas about young mothers and the power they should exert over them. I hope that sometime soon our society’s cultural ideas will change about young mothers…who are really just MOTHERS who deserve the same respect, treatment, understanding, and help as other mothers.

  5. My mother is a highschool teacher, this previous summer a girl in her class had a baby. She’d been on bed rest so my mother was her home/hospital teacher during her bed rest and her 6 week postpartum period. She was breastfeeding and couldn’t get the baby to take a bottle of pumped milk, and was panicking about returning to school. My mother tried everything in the book to help her stay in school; extending her home/hospital care (denied), bringing the baby to school (denied), having her mother bring the baby in between classes (denied). The girl finally just pulled out of school, and she will get her GED after she turns 18. Sick, sad and angry, after all my mom did the school simply didn’t care.

  6. Why in the world are babies having babies to begin with? Yes the female body can produce a child at a young age, however there are things like condoms, birth control, abstinence and CHOICES to not have a child. If you’re going to be a teen mom then its time to stop going to school, get a job and provide for your child. School and education is so important but having a baby in a classroom to disrupt the other kids that have and want to be there is rude. You don’t cart your child into work you either stay at home, work from home or make arrangements. I don’t agree with trying to help a teen mom and enabling bad life choices. No child is a mistake, and they are an innocent party for a bad life choice of their parents but they are going to suffer for it. End of story.

    • If teen moms aren’t given support to finish school how are they supposed to earn a living? Guess what- birth control fails. Condoms break. And teens make bad choices because they are still young. Hell, adults make mistakes and bad choices too. If you think “no child is a mistake and that they are an innocent party to their parent’s bad life choice” why would you advocate putting them into a position of suffering- because having a parent that hasn’t finished school and has no job experience is SURE to put them into that position. No one is suggesting having the baby in the classroom. Not sure where you got that.

    • Actually I DO bring my child to work with me, every day. I breastfeed her on demand, and she is hardly a disruption. I work in retail and all of my customers love her. I’ve never had a complaint and my customers love that I openly breastfeed in public. I don’t think having the baby IN the classroom was ever the idea by the way. There is no “enabling” once the deed is done. What the school should be doing is “enabling” the mother to give her child the very BEST start she can….by giving her breastmilk.

    • If “no child is a mistake” should each child be given a chance at a strong foundation? I don’t think this is about enabling teen pregnancy…that point is irrelevant in the context of this story. Unless you have a time machine, you can’t go back and undo the deed. The point is this baby is here and the mother wants to do right by her and feed her what is best for her.

      I think it’s a shame the school is making it so hard on her. I don’t see why she couldn’t sit in the nurse’s office (or some other private space) and pump a couple times a day. I mean, honestly, you want to deter teen pregnancy, have her friends watch her pump. Talk about unglamorous!

      @ashley: I’m sorry your parents made it so difficult for you and make such snide remarks. It sounds like they are the ones with some growing up to do.

      @christine: If only every teacher cared as much as your mom. Good for her for trying to help that girl. Maybe she could tutor her when she starts her GED testing.

      As for me, I think having a baby that young is a terrible burden and one that strips teens of their youth. However, I don’t live with my head in the sand. Teens do stupid things and like JoniRae said, birth control fails. Not every teen conception is a result of being careless (nor is every adult conception the result of careful planning). The point is, teens are going to have sex and some of them are going to pregnant. Should we teach them that abstinence is the only way to prevent pregnancy and STDs? Absolutely! But we should also teach them how to protect themselves. We should teach them that young ladies should be on the pill and young men should wear a condom, EVERY TIME!

      Will those lessons sink in? I don’t know. My husband and I (we’ve been together since we were 18) were careful for the first years of our relationship, but we also made mistakes. It was pure luck that we never conceived until we wanted to. And guess what, the baby I’m carrying now…he’s an oopsie! And we were 34 when he was conceived.

    • Karyn, it is exactly YOUR attitude that needs to change about society.

      Not every mom, including teen moms…are going to have the same ideals and perspective as you. You wouldn’t expect a 25 year old mother to be made to listen to and follow what a 30 year old mother says because the 30 year old has more life experience (not to mention there are plenty of people who have more life experience, maturity, etc. at 20 than many do at 40). It doesn’t work that way either just because you’re a young mother. Each mother, regardless of age, is going to have an idea of life goals, parenting goals, and an idea of what kind of parent they want to be. Sometimes it’s just an idea of what they DON’T want to do or who they DON’T want to be. No one else gets to make that choice – no one else SHOULD be able to make that choice for them.

      If by other “options” not to have a child, you mean abortion – not every teen wants to make that choice and shouldn’t have to because someone else wants them to. A child can have a great life despite many less than ideal situations – being a teen mom isn’t necessarily a terrible situation. If we start making arbitrary “rules” for making a child – then soon there will be all kinds of requirements. “You need to make x amount of money, you need to have “this” big of a house, you need to have x kind of car, be within x age range, married x amount of years” etc. If you would not impose those same things upon yourself, check yourself. Because that same attitude can be twisted against you, and every other woman in the long run. That, to me – is very anti-woman… that attitude is the result of the ideas of a patronymic society (that we are trying to break free of STILL in 2013.) Women need to make progress together about their bodies and reproductive choices – regardless of age – because if we ourselves feel the need to impose restrictions on each other in order to divide ourselves (and make ourselves feel better about our own situations), others will also feel comfortable making restrictions for us. Divide and conquer (figuratively, of course.)

      Whether or not you support teen mothers – reflects on your ideas of all other mothers. If you judge so harshly based on an arbitrary number rather than capability – what does that say about your character? If you can judge based solely on what society deems is “proper” for a certain age group – what is stopping you from judging based on other arbitrary life choices or situations? A mom doesn’t have a big enough house – that family doesn’t make enough money, etc. and that automatically dooms her child to suffer from her “bad” choices? That is what you’re saying in a round-about way. If a mother has less-than-ideal circumstances her child is going to suffer, which is not guaranteed and definitely not your place to say.

      Getting a dumpy job at a local store, restaurant, and office will bring some money in, but what is the cost for that mother AND that child, in the long run? Why is the focus always on money and education for teen mothers? Like myself (and many other teen mothers I know), I have never relied on any government program or anyone else to buy anything for my daughter. I didn’t have to work because, with a supportive partner because, -I- feel my daughter better benefited by me being a stay at home mother and he agreed. It doesn’t mean I will never work – it doesn’t mean I will never go to school – but I feel that that was best for her. Does that suddenly mean nothing because someone else says that I’m ruining my life (or hers) by not going to school or work RIGHT this second? Would you dare say the same to a mother 25, or 35? I dare you to. Would you think it rude if someone walked up to you, and said you were a failure as a parent because at x age you should be doing y and z or that because of situation 1 you should be taking actions number 2 and 3? There is more than one way to raise a child – there is more than one way to be a mother… and very few are “wrong.” The focus should be on doing what THAT mother deems is best for her and her child in the short- and long-term regardless of her age. Maybe in certain situations what that mother feels is best doesn’t turn out to be what she thought it would – and that’s sad…but that’s LIFE and that happens to ALL mothers. Motherhood is a journey – it includes bad choices and stumbles, no mother is perfect no matter if they are 18, 30, or 50. It is a mother’s right to make her own mistakes and learn her own lessons. It is how we better ourselves.

      Attitudes such as yours does more than not support teen mothers – it shows no support for mothers whatsoever. Helping mothers – of any age – is not “enabling” bad choices… but denying them help…THAT is “enabling” bad choices. It is saying that only those we deem deserving should get help, and that we have the power to make those decisions and judgments. Remember that when you are down, and someone says “because of x, y, or z…you do not deserve our help. Your “bad choices” are your own.” Because just maybe, maybe then you will cry “foul” too. Do not masquerade your judgmental attitude as care for children because your very words show deception.

      This has very little to do with her age and very much to do with society’s expectations of mothers and the power they feel they can exude. Stand up to society, don’t pick another mother apart. Every mother deserves the same help, the same support, and the same understanding. This includes the universal right to do what they feel is right for their child without someone else trying to impose their beliefs on them (within the limitations of immediate danger and damage to their child, of course). This mother deserves the same respect and right to pump for her child in a private room at school as you do to pump in a private room at work. What is so hard to understand about that?

    • And so you’d pretty much like to guarantee another generation of teen parents and then another? Because by removing access to education and resources young people who made a mistake could use to better themselves, you’re literally creating another generation of families in poverty. That’s cutting off your nose to spite your face, for sure. You don’t want to see more teen parents? Then let today’s teen parents do what they need to do to thrive, not just survive.

  7. I really really hate people sometimes. My mom had me when she was 15 years old and she is successful. It wasn’t a perfect childhood but my mom was strong and did what she needed to do for me. She didn’t breastfeed me (as she says she was young and stupid and didn’t know enough) but she did take 8 months off of school to be home with me. She still graduated on time. I also completely agree that help a teen mom to be able to breastfeed isn’t going to make more teens go become moms. Guess what they will do it. They have been doing it. Even back in those “oh girls in my days kept their legs closed” days there was STILL TEEN PREGNANCIES it was just hidden. Or bodies start going through changes then, which is why in almost every other country teenagers aren’t just kids. They are grown ups. SIgh. Don’t even get me started on the what if she was raped and got pregnant should she still not get support if decides to have the baby? Things aren’t just black and white!

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