Valerie Gommon Midwife’s Blog

Teenage Pregnancies again and informed consent

Posted on: April 14, 2009

Teenage pregnancy is something that I have already written about, see my blog on 1st January

Tonight the subject was re-visited by Channel 4 in the programme The Hospital the programme claimed to explore the cost of teenage mothers to an already stretched health service.

The programme states that 46,000 pregnant teens registered in the UK last year – the highest number in Europe – and questioning whether young people fail to take responsibility for their own health; and asks can the NHS afford to maintain its founding principle of free healthcare at the point of delivery?  The programme was filmed at City Hospital in Birmingham where 10 new pregnant teenage girls register at the maternity unit each week.

Whilst fully acknowledging the difficulties faced by both staff and these young women the programme really raised the question of “informed consent” for me.  Whilst it was true that one of the young women did get her wish to have a general anaesthetic for her caesarean (against medical advice) I was left feeling that these young women were short changed when for example the staff told the young women “we are going to do induce you with a tablet”.  I appreciate that the film may have been edited but it did leave me with the feeling that these women were not active partners in their care.

Of course, for me as an Independent Midwife and having the luxury of additional time it is easy to be critical of an NHS system which is stretched to the limits, but it did strike me as a missed opportunity to involve the young women in the decision making.  I also felt that there were some sweeping statements, for example although many of these women were at increased risks during their pregnancy, I do not believe that age alone is a risk factor.  Many young women will have healthy pregnancies and will progress to have normal births – I believe that late teens/early twenties can be a physically good time to have a baby providing that the couple are emotionally and financially ready.

2 Responses to "Teenage Pregnancies again and informed consent"

Hi, interesting post. I have been thinking about this topic,so thanks for writing. I’ll definitely be subscribing to your site.

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