This week we are joined by the lovely Serena Christina.
Q1. Can you describe your personal experience of life as a young mum?
Being a first time mum at a young age was at times challenging and stressful with many highs and lows. I had, and still do have an amazing support system.. Family helped where they could and Charlie worked hard to support us.
Q2. How did you feel when you found out you were pregnant?
Unfortunately with my first nervousness took over my excitement. I was Sixteen, Starting six form and still living at home with my mum and brother. I wasn’t nervous about becoming a mum, I always knew I wanted to have children.. It was telling our families about the soon to be arrival.
Second time around it was completely different.. I was in my 20’s, married and we had a house of our own. Not like any of that such matter, but it made it easier. It was definitely less stressful, even though everyone was excited about my pregnancy including myself… Mum guilt hit me hard. “Why wasn’t everyone excited last time round like they are this time”
Q3. Do you feel like life has been harder because you had children at a young age?
No I don’t think so… Of course we have struggled from time to time but no more then an older couple would have becoming new parents.
Q4. Did you ever feel judged by anyone? If so, how did you deal with it?
Yes and unfortunately I still feel judged from time to time now. How did I deal with it?… Not great to be honest. I pretty much alienated myself… I constantly had people staring at me, On the bus, walking though town, At the doctors.. I could tell what they were thinking, because I overheard indiscreet people saying them.
“How old is she”.. “A child having a child”.. “Its disgusting”.. “Another one living off of benefits”
“I bet she doesn’t even know who the dad is!”
That’s just a few… Hearing them knocked my confidence, I wouldn’t go anywhere on my own with Taylor. I was always to worried what others thought. While I was pregnant with Freddie I got the odd look here and there but not as bad as I did the first time round. Occasionally I still get self-conscious depending on the circumstance but most of the time I don’t take much notice.
Q5. Do you think there are any advantages to being a young mum?
As I already said I was studying in six form when I fell pregnant with Taylor. Unfortunately I never got around to finishing my courses so I never got a qualification. However a few years later I was able to change all this. At that time a local collage received funding to help young parents to finish their studies. I received paid child care for Taylor for the hours I was studying. I felt extremely lucky.. Getting a qualification and finishing my studies was something I always worried about. Unfortunately I know this isn’t something our local collage is doing anymore. However i think this may have something to do with the free 16 hour childcare everyone can now receive for 3-4 year olds. I feel this was a great advantage for young mums/dads to finish their studies and get a qualification to hopefully lead to a enjoyable and better paid job.
Q6. What are the best and worst things about being a young mum?
The best, is actually being a mum. My boys are everything to me, I wouldn’t change anything about my motherhood journey. Its made me the person and mother I am today. The worst, will always be the judgement.. however as I said I wouldn’t change anything.. Not even the horrible things I herd, all the stares I had, its made me a stronger person.
Q7. How do you think we can change the stigma that surrounds young mums?
Just remain doing what we’re doing.. Parent our children the best we can, stand together and show all the judgemental people we are proud to be a young mum.
Q8. What are the main issues that young mums have to deal with, and how do you think they could be better supported?
Personally I think Loneliness and judgement… After leaving six form my friends popped round now and then, and still invited me to go out with them. However this soon stopped. I don’t blame them, I wasn’t who I was before I couldn’t just get ready and go out shopping or go to parties.. I was a mum, and that came first.
Loneliness hit me quite hard.. I wanted to go to groups, meet other new young mums but that never happened from my lack of confidence. There was plenty of groups around my area however none that made me feel comfortable. I went to a few antenatal classes but most of the mums to be there were late 20’s 30’s even maybe 40’s. Not one person spoke to me to made me feel welcome, even the instructor was a bit off with me.
For something to change there needs to be groups just aimed for young mums… Ones where you can meet when pregnant to talk to one another about your experiences, Make new friends and hopefully carry them though to mother and baby and toddler groups. This way, Loneliness wouldn’t be a problem and neither would judgement because your all in the same boat.
Q9. Do you think that the support for young mums has improved over time?
Comparing my two pregnancies, births and post baby care I think they have improved, but there is still room for improvement. With Taylor I wasn’t told anything about local groups or meetings. I only found out about these from seeing posters in the health centre when I took him to have his jabs. However when I had Freddie, the health Visitor that came to see me gave me leaflets for all the local community centres that held groups with all the time tables in. However as I said in my previous question, there wasn’t any aimed towards young mums. Even though I was 22 when I had Freddie I still felt out of place at mother and baby groups.
Q10. If you were approached by a young mum asking for advice, what advice would you give them and why?
Ignore the haters.. they’re not worth your tears! I spent months over thinking, putting myself down and for what? When I finally let it go and chose to ignore it, I felt so much better. A weight had been lifted, I could finally concentrate on myself and give my baby the best life I could.
If you would like to read more about Serena and her family, you can find her here.
If you would like to get involved with the #YoungMumsProject and write a Guest Post for us please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can read more posts from the #YoungMumsProject here.