T.E.A.M. Mom helps pregnant teens missing neonatal care in Georgia

Published: Oct. 18, 2022 at 8:05 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - New moms in Georgia who might need the most help through their pregnancy might also be those least likely to receive it, according to new research.

Pregnant minors are 2.5 times less likely than adults to receive prenatal care. Only about 50% of teens receive prenatal care.

Jasmine Douglas, the founder of the Georgia nonprofit T.E.A.M. Mom, provides support for pregnant women 13 to 21 years old.

Douglas understands the need for more education, mentorship, and resources after becoming a teen mom herself more than a decade ago.

“It completely rocked my world,” said Douglas. “I didn’t know about prenatal vitamins, I didn’t know that it’s good to get a check-up with the doctor to see how things are going, or to do the ultrasound, or even about the tests that are going on. It was a lot.”

Douglas, now a proud mother of two, described feeling overwhelmed and alone during the majority of her pregnancy. She kept her pregnancy a secret for eight months, worried about how her family would react.

“I didn’t tell anyone except my child’s father, just because of the fear, the shame, the guilt,” said Douglas.

While Douglas’s family welcomed her baby girl with love and support, she recognizes not all young mothers share the same experience.

Georgia reports the third-highest percentage of minors not receiving prenatal care.

“In Georgia, I think the lack of education and awareness contributes to that,” she said. “Not just sex ed, but also informing people if you find yourself in this situation – this is how you move forward.”

Douglas has spent about 10 years working on her nonprofit which officially launched in May 2022, shortly before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Months after the court’s ruling, Georgia lawmakers passed a heartbeat bill limiting abortion access in the state.

Inadequate prenatal care is one reason pregnant minors are more likely to face complications like low birth weight or requiring immediate intervention following ventilation or antibiotics after the birth.

Not only is Douglas providing a service for women – she’s offering support for their children too.

“If it takes a village to raise a child, how much more does it take to help a child raise a child?” said Douglas. “They are raising that next generation one way or another, so how can we support and guide them safely? That’s the goal.”