Currently, the New York OB-GYN Hospitalists at WCA Hospital are serving 40 teenage prenatal patients.
Teenage childbearing in New York cost taxpayers $377 million in 2008. The most recent figures from The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy also show that nationally, teen childbearing costs taxpayers at least $10.9 billion each year.
"We don't have a teen program per se. We have a comprehensive service for teenagers that they come through to deliver," said Melissa Hines Bock, FNP-C, OB-GYN Center nurse practitioner.
The care that teenagers receive is the same basic care that older women receive - Bock said it is tailored individually for each patient, and assesses the family situation and support system for each woman.
Teenage mothers are different from older mothers, because their bodies are still growing. Additionally, Bock said teenage bodies heal faster than their adult counterparts.
However, teenagers also tend to show more unhealthy habits than older mothers do during their pregnancy.
"Often, teenagers smoke, have an unhealthy lifestyle. They may do drugs or use alcohol," Bock said.
A baby born to a teenage mother is at a higher risk for preterm birth, low birth weight, other serious health problems and death.
Using the book "What to Expect When You're Expecting," Bock works with all mothers to ensure they understand what is going on at each stage in their pregnancy. Additionally, she uses the "What To Expect Pregnancy Tracker" free app for smartphones, which Bock said teenage mothers especially relate to.
"Teenagers are more tech-savvy. The app follows the book exactly," Bock said.
Around 65 percent of the time, Bock said that she sees fathers coming in to appointments with teenage mothers. However, sometimes the men coming in are not the biological fathers of the children, but someone in the fathering role.
"It can be difficult to identify," Bock said.
Although she is relatively new in town - at the time of her interview, Bock had only been living in Chautauqua County for nine weeks - she is working to make connections with organizations in the area that will be resources for teenage parents. Already, she has given out Matt Stone's phone number for the Young Father's Program at TEAM many times and she has toured the TEAM program.
Aside from helping the fathers, Bock focuses on prevention with both young parents. Statistics show that one in four teenage mothers under the age of 18 will have a second baby within two years.
At 36 weeks, Bock said that she discusses birth control with her patients. She speaks with them about what is available and follows up with family planning.
If mothers are interested in the Deppo shot, Bock said, they are able to receive it before they even leave the hospital. If they prefer to take birth control pills, they are able to start taking them 21 days after the baby is born.
"We have them set their cellphone alarms, twice. A reminder alarm and a back-up alarm," Bock said.
The birth control pills, Bock said, are 98 percent effective if the woman swallows the pill every single day, which is the reason cellphone reminders are effective.
"If you are taking the pill within a 24-hour period, you are 98 percent covered," Bock said.
Condom use is also covered. Bock said that she discusses safe sex and where condoms are available with her patients.
"A lot of teenagers are not comfortable talking about birth control. It's your body. It's okay to ask to put a condom on," Bock said.
LABOR AND DELIVERY
Across the street, at WCA Hospital's main campus, is labor and delivery. According to Donna Barber, BSN-RNC, OB nurse manager, there are four labor rooms at the hospital.
"Normal postpartum stay after delivery is a minimum of 24 hours, but generally two days. C-Sections, generally three days," Barber said.
While in the hospital, all patients receive education about being a new mother.
"Babies don't have a really good instruction manuel that comes with them. Moms don't always know. It's a learning process for them. We encourage as much baby and mom time as possible," Barber said.
WCA Hospital also offers prenatal classes to each patient, which includes a program that is in conjunction with the Jamestown Police Department. These courses include correct car seat usage, classes for first time mothers and refresher classes for mothers who have already had children. The hospital also encourages breast-feeding.
"There are a lot of health benefits. And, if there is anything that mom has an immunity to, that immunity is passed on to the infant for the duration of the time that they are nursing," Barber said.
Teenage mothers sometimes require a different approach than older mothers do because of age and maturity levels. Barber said that this begins across the street with the New York OB-GYN Hospitalists.
"One of the nice things about having a nurse practitioner that is working with these young girls is that she develops a rapport with them. She can help to influence decision-making. Once they come into the hospital setting, very often those decisions are made. When they are getting this education prenatally ... that process is an ongoing thing," Barber said.
Barber also said teenage mothers often find themselves in a difficult situation because of peer-pressure and body image.
"You have a lot of peer-pressure, you have a lot of questioning of body and body image, and the whole idea of breast-feeding is almost a taboo type thing for some of them. It really takes education progressively, as well as family influences to help get them to make that decision," Barber said.
Teenagers often do not have the knowledge of how to raise a baby, and often assume that they will naturally know what to do, according to Barber. However, she said, learning to raise a baby is a process that requires patience.
Barber credits the New York OB-GYN Hospitalists as being a benefit to the community.
"(The prenatal clinic) has been a wonderful asset to the community. We have had people who it was hard for them to get prenatal care. We have had less people coming in with no prenatal care. We have had better ability to provide quality care for all the residents of the community," Barber said.
The biggest change Barber sees for teenagers is a lifestyle change. Often, teenagers do not realize exactly how much care a baby needs.
"It's very difficult for most teenagers. Their whole life changes. All of a sudden, here is this baby that needs to be the center of your world. As teenagers, you're still at the point of you being at the center of your world. It takes some doing to switch that over to being the baby. A lot of girls look at having a baby as someone to love them, but you put so much in before you ever get that back," Barber said.