| 22.9°C Belfast

Young mothers share their stories

Close

A group of young mothers are going back to school to reveal the struggles they faced after giving birth as teenagers

A group of young mothers are going back to school to reveal the struggles they faced after giving birth as teenagers

A group of young mothers are going back to school to reveal the struggles they faced after giving birth as teenagers

The harsh reality of life as a teenage mother is being brought to life in classrooms across the Republic.

A group of young mothers are going back to school to reveal the struggles they faced after giving birth as teenagers.

Anne Fitzpatrick developed Real Deal, a peer-led education programme, after she listened to teenage mothers riddled with regret, anger and hurt when their plans for the future were shattered. She said teenagers need protection, guidance, advice and to live a full life, and not nappies, lone parenting and crushed dreams of travel and further education.

"When a teenager, more specifically a teenage mother, sits opposite you crying and sobbing as she asks 'why did nobody tell me how hard it was going to be?' and 'why didn't I wait until I was older before becoming a mum?' it is chillingly harsh to listen to," said Ms Fitzpatrick.

A total of 2,223 teenagers give birth last year, 50 who were aged under 16. Research shows 40% of teenage mothers suffer from depression before or after birth.

Lone parents Holly Railton and Laura McLoughlin are among a team of women who have already told their stories to 568 transition year pupils and early school leavers in 25 schools and training centres. Self esteem, contraception, STIs (sexually transmitted infections), drugs, alcohol, sexual behaviour and making a decision are vital aspects of the scheme, to be delivered to another 600 girls, aged about 16, over the coming months.

Ms McLoughlin revealed she was that age when she gave birth to her son Blake, now eight, after an unplanned pregnancy. The 24-year-old, from Sallins, Co Kildare, said teenagers need to realise there is more than just dressing a baby up in pink or blue. She said:: "I wished someone had told me how hard it would be."

Daily Headlines & Evening Telegraph Newsletter

Receive today's headlines directly to your inbox every morning and evening, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

Ms Railton, 28, an early school leaver who planned her first child with a long-term boyfriend at just 18, said: "If I can prevent even one girl making a decision that they will regret forever or I can prevent just one girl from becoming a teenage mother or contracting an STI I will feel a huge sense of accomplishment."

Teachers believe the project, funded by the Health Service Executive Crisis Pregnancy Programme, debunks a lot of the myths about having a baby at a young age. Feedback shows teenagers were more aware of the consequences of having sex and that they would give it more consideration in the future.

Mary Fagan, of St Tiernan's Community School, Dundrum, added: "I think the programme will make a huge difference in the prevention of teenage pregnancy."


Top Videos



Privacy