Support for Teen Moms
As most tweens, teens and twenty-somethings in the area know, a local teenager has been followed for the past couple of years as she went through pregnancy and the first year or so of motherhood. Farrah’s story is one of many featured on the hit MTV shows 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom. Though she’s the only one in the area receiving a degree of fame for it, she’s certainly not the only girl in our community facing the difficult journey that can accompany a teen pregnancy.
Thankfully, there are services in place to help teens like Farrah.
CHI Health offers childbirth education services to pregnant teens in the Council Bluffs School District via Jennifer Hensley, RN, ICCE. The certified child birth educator works with the district’s task force on teen pregnancy to provide guidance, health education and support to students who become pregnant. It’s all part of an effort to keep the girls healthy while still focused on their education and, ultimately, graduation.
We took some time to ask Jennifer a few questions about her role in the school district and the impact it’s having on the teens she works with:
How much of an impact does this outreach have on pregnant students?
I’m seeing these girls come to more of the child birth classes at the hospital. They communicate with the doctor offices more frequently. They appear to be coming to school on a more regular basis, which leads to a higher graduation rate.
Hopefully the impact they get from my attention also helps them know that if they need some insight into their pregnancy or just someone to listen, I’m available to them.
What do you find most rewarding in this role?
I have so enjoyed getting to know these wonderful young women and trying to help them do the best for themselves and their babies. I’m rewarded by the fact that these young women are encouraged and guided to complete their education and be the best they can be.
While I have always worked with teen pregnant girls, this is the first opportunity to work with them within their school. Council Bluffs schools, Alegent Health Mercy Hospital and many community agencies have all come together to reach this goal. As far as I know, no other school in the area has requested such services.
Why is it important to have these types of educational opportunities available to any mom-to-be, whether she’s 16 or 60?
I believe child birth education is important at any age. It is about assisting women and their significant other in making informed decisions about pregnancy, birth and early parenthood. It assists them in having an empowered birth experience that stays with them the rest of their lives.
Earlier this week the Council Bluffs School District named Jennifer one of its Partners in Education – an honor recognizing groups and individuals who directly support and affect its students. Last year, alone, Jennifer helped 18 girls through their pregnancy.