More teen moms since lockdown

The Mitchells Plain Day Hospital

Despite the national Covid-19 lockdown there has been an increase in the number of teen moms in Mitchell’s Plain this year.

A local club for teenage mothers says it has had five young women register this year, compared with one last year, while the health department’s stats for the district show an increase in 21 babies born to teen moms between April and September, when compared to the same time last year.

Ntombesizwe Basso, founder and co-ordinator of Intyatyambo Yesizwe Teen Mom Club, said a 14-year-old girl from Tafelsig, was one of five teen moms who joined the group this year.

Its aim is to support pregnant and parenting young women between 14 and 23, and Ms Bosso said they had been inundated with requests for donations of baby clothing.

She said during the lockdown it had been difficult for them to track all teen moms in their catchment area, which includes Mitchell’s Plain, Phillipi, Khayelitsha, Gugulethu and Delft.

“We use public transport to visit different health facilities, which was rather challenging in the higher numbered levels of lockdown restrictions,” she said.

She said there had been significant increases in teen pregnancies particularly in Philippi and Khayelitsha.

With limited funding, the volunteers used a door-to-door car taxi service to deliver much needed nappies, baby clothing and toiletries to teen moms, and in cases where they could not reach teen moms they advised parents to go to social development with their daughters.

Ms Basso said moms older than 18 and from neighbouring countries, including Zimbabwe, had also sought assistance from them.

Monique Johnstone, principal communications officer for the Western Cape Health Department’s Klipfontein and Mitchell’s Plain Substructure said 201 girls, aged 10 to 19, gave birth at Mitchell’s Plain day hospital, between April and September this year, compared to the 180 babies born to young mothers the same time last year.

According to their statistics, there had been a slight increase in the number of teenage pregnancies seen at the facility, but there had been a drop in births to teen moms at Mitchell’s Plain district hospital – from 193 babies last year, between April and September, and 161 this year. Ms Johnstone said family planning services were offered on an appointment basis and pupils were encouraged to come after school to access the youth-friendly services at the day hospital.

She said 500 teens, aged between 15 and 19, received family planning from the day hospital last year and 131 were at the district hospital.

This year the district hospital had 83 teen moms on family planning and 496 teen moms were seen at the day hospital.

The Mitchell’s Plain midwife obstetrics unit (MOU) has, since Monday November 2 also introduced after-hours family planning services, during the week between 4pm and 6.30pm and on weekends from 9am until 5pm.

Family planning services are also offered weekly as part of the facility’s wellness outreach initiatives.

Emergency contraception is available at the MOU for patients who had unprotected sex in the past 72 hours.

Abortions are offered until moms are 12-weeks pregnant and are managed on a walk-in basis, with both medical and surgical termination of pregnancies on offer.

Ms Johnstone said all patients were counselled, screened for HIV, screened by cervical smear and received family planning on discharge.

Dr Zahid Badroodien, the City’s mayoral committee member for community services and health, said Mitchell’s Plain clinics, including Eastridge, Rocklands, Tafelsig, Lentegeur and Westridge, had seen a decline in teen pregnancies between April and October. While there had been 104 last year, this year there were 63.

Adolescents can receive free family planning at clinics, he said, adding that teenagers seeking a termination of pregnancy would be referred to a provincial or metro health care facility.

“All clinics have youth health care services with a designated nursing sister assigned,” said Dr Badroodien.

A Mitchell’s Plain high school teacher said they had 11 pregnancies in Grades 11 and 12, compared to the 19 pregnancies they had across the school grades last year.

She said this excluded the younger pupils, whom she hardly saw due to standard operating procedures, in place to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, on pupils’ return to school from lockdown.