Sexual Health

Experiences of young mothers

Some women get pregnant after their contraception doesn't work or when they forget to take the pill. No contraceptive method (apart from not having sex) has a 100% success rate.

Sometimes partners react positively (see 'Experiences of young fathers'), whilst others are unhelpful and unsupportive

A 21 year old woman we interviewed remembered her boyfriend being very happy when she found out she was pregnant, even though it was the result of a rare IUD (non-hormonal coil) failure. She was due to start University and remembers her boyfriend (now her husband) saying 'Well you do that and I'll support you in it because it's important to you'.
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In certain cases the woman proceeds with the pregnancy even though her partner doesn't want her to. One girl who fell pregnant aged 15 said that her boyfriend blamed her, saying that she had 'lied to him' about having stopped taking the pill. She had stayed with him until her daughter was 10 months old but the relationship ended because he started hitting her. Parents can also react differently, with some being overjoyed whilst others are totally unsupportive.

Young mums we interviewed had very different experiences depending on whether they were with the father of the baby or on their own. Women living with the father said their lives had changed to meet their new responsibilities as parents, but they had emotional and practical support from their partner, families and in-laws.   

Single mums may find raising a child more difficult, particularly if they didn't get emotional, practical or financial support from the father. Lack of sleep and lack of money are two of the biggest problems "Money and sleep and needing support basically but money because children are not cheap, they really, really are not cheap".  

Having a baby when young, particularly as a single parent can be very challenging. "I wish I'd listened a bit more to other people saying 'you are still a bit young, have your childhood first, you are still a child'".

Last reviewed January 2016.

Last updated August 2012.

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