By Oghenefego Ofili
A long time ago, around April in year 2000, something happened in my school. It was a normal school day. We had just come into class after the morning assembly, waiting for classes to start. There was the usual noise in the classroom as we were waiting for the Mathematics teacher. It was a girls-only school, so you can imagine the chit-chat going on. “Fego, you need to inform the Principal that Oge (not real name) is pregnant”; a classmate whispered to me.
At first I was confused. I knew the girl in question. We had been classmates since SSS1. She was brilliant, social, a church-girl, all the good qualities a young girl could possess. This had to be a joke. It was not the first day in April, so not one of those ‘April fools’ tricks. While we were still contemplating whether or not to inform the Principal, a teacher walked into the class. The room went automatically dead-silent, you could hear a pin drop to the floor.
“Oge, the Principal wants to see you”. With her head bowed, avoiding any eye contact, my intelligent classmate walked to the Principal’s office slowly. It was like a film as the whole school looked from their windows to catch a glimpse of ‘the SSS3 student who was pregnant’ just a month to her final exams (WAEC & NECO) and been taken away by her mother.
Oge’s experience is an example of what happens to over 20% of teenage girls in Nigeria. Teenage pregnancy is the fertilization of the ovum by a sperm in a girl that is between the ages of 13 and 19 years. When a girl in her teen-age (13-19) gets pregnant, it is termed ‘Teenage Pregnancy’.
Various factors can lead to teenage pregnancy. From peer pressure to youthful exuberance; the teenager is naturally susceptible to sexual pressures as a result of the development of secondary sexual characteristics. Teenagers are prone to be adventurous, which can result in getting pregnant or getting someone pregnant (for the male).
The effects of teenage pregnancy can be physiological, psychological, emotional and mental. These effects can be on both the male and female. Although the female teen is biologically more affected, as she has to carry the pregnancy, we must be careful not to neglect its effect on the male counterpart especially if he is a teenager.
Most teens who find themselves in this situation suffer from depression, sadness, low self-esteem, drop out of school and reduced social interactions, etc. A teenager is just growing up, trying to understand his or her self, and now he or she is saddled with an additional responsibility of parenting. For the female teen there are health implications, especially concerning the extent to which her body is ready to cope with childbearing.
If you have found yourself in this situation, here are some things you should know.
- Forgive yourself. There is the tendency for you to regret your actions and constantly beat yourself, which might lead to self pity. This is not the best disposition. The mistake has been made, forgive yourself.
- Inform your parents. You need all the understanding and support you can get from family and friends.
- Do not think of getting rid of the foetus. This will only compound the problem and worsen your emotional state.
- Forgive yourself and love the foetus. Whether we like it or not, life is a gift and we must cherish, nourish and nurture it.
- See a doctor for medical examination and counselling
- Revisit your goals. You must have set goals before now; you need to add parenting to it. Look for ways to make sure you remain focused and do not give up on your dreams and aspiration.
- Whatever happens, keep education as one of the goals you MUST achieve.
- It is not compulsory you marry the person responsible for the pregnancy. Think about growing up first, marriage will come later.
You need to understand that you are pregnant, it is real, not a dream. This does not in any way reduce your value as a human being. You can still be the best you have been created, designed, programmed and purposed to be. What matters most is the attitude you put up. A positive attitude might be difficult to attain, but it is the right attitude to have.
About the Writer
Oghenefego is the CEO of Teo-Inspiro International, a development communication and media consulting firm in Nigeria. Fego has over 10 years professional experience working with youths in various sectors. She has a master degree in Human Nutrition and a Certificate in Entrepreneurial Management. Oghenefego has been recognized within and outside Nigeria for her contributions to youth development, entrepreneurship and women empowerment programs. She hosts an online platform, (TodaywithFego) that is aimed at being a light in the realization of fulfillment, satisfaction and peace in every area of life.