Tuesday 12 December 2017

Mother Nature is on the side of teenagers

Childbirth is better for mum and baby when the mother is young and healthy, writes Julia Molony

Julia Molony

FOR a long time now teenage pregnancy has been accepted as generally a bad thing. Tackling this issue has become a key tenet of contemporary social reform. Most of us don't question the wisdom of discouraging women younger than 18 from having babies.

But what exactly is this idea based on? As government agencies work to curb the birth rate in those under the age of majority, and while health agencies issue dire warnings about the risks of starting a family too late, we are heading further towards a weird state of affairs where messages and advice about reproduction are close to coming into direct conflict; with the fertility time bomb at one end; the widespread notion of conception under 18 as social failure at the other; and a tiny window during which it would be socially acceptable and biologically possible to fall pregnant in the middle.

Not only is there something a bit self-sabotaging and weird about a society that has re-framed the 20 or so years of female fertility nature has provided into a five-year optimum window, but we also have to wonder where our prejudice against very young parents comes from.

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