Greater expectations

26th August 2005 at 01:00
Teenage mums need up-to-date advice. Adi Bloom reviews a new school guide

Never leave your baby alone in the bath, not even if Leonardo DiCaprio is on the phone. This is one of the instructions to new mothers given in I'm Going to Have a Baby, a new guide for pregnant teenagers.

The 60-page guide, which is designed to resemble a teenage magazine, includes tips on all elements of teenage pregnancy, from taking a pregnancy test to feeding, handling and bathing the baby.

It was devised by Julian Jordon, educational publisher and one-time head of an FE college vocational preparation department who consulted groups of teenage mothers and mums-to-be.

"Lots of information for young mums is out of date," he said. "I wanted to create something like a teenage magazine with the colours they use, and a similar design."

The brightly-coloured magazine includes that staple of the genre, the problem page. A former 16-year-old father acts as agony uncle for teenage girls unsure how to deal with the baby's father.

Girls ask questions such as: "I'm worried about telling the baby's father I'm pregnant. What if he thinks I'm trying to trap him?" Others want to know whether the father can demand to see the baby, and how to avoid being overwhelmed by his advice.

The magazine contains many comments from the teenagers Mr Jordon worked with. Some talk of how they felt when they pushed their babies out in new prams.

Ashley, 18, said: "I was dead proud of my baby. I'm a real adult now." And 17-year-old Tricia offered this advice: "Some of them go out and buy a big, posh pram, forgetting it won't fit on the bus."

Mr Jordon said: "My concern isn't how they got pregnant. You don't want to be punishing them."

The guide, intended for use in schools and by health advisers, can be customised for local authorities to include phone numbers for local services and advice groups. Alan Sherwood, of Wigan pregnancy support unit, has been piloting the magazine for six months.

He said: "Anything from the midwifery service is technical, geared more to older mothers, and teenagers feel intimidated by it."

Katie O'Shaughnessy, 18, who gave birth to her son, Cameron, two years ago, agrees. "Old people look down on you," she said. "They think that you're not going to cope. You need someone who understands what you're going through."

* adi.bloom@tes.co.uk

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