The majority of teenage mothers, as we have seen, remain single; marriage has not appealed in the current economic and social climate. When having a baby and bringing up the child is accepted as a one person job, many young mothers do not appreciate the nature of that job. Early difficulties range from physical care of and emotional bonding with the new-born to the financial and emotional survival of the mother. This chapter shows how adolescent mothers learn about the routines of parenthood; how they learn to cope with small babies in an environment which is frequently unhealthy and discouraging; and some of the consequences of such an inexperienced beginning. Where adequate diet and health care exist, babies of teenage mothers are as healthy as those of older mothers. The social conditions, however, are not propitious on the whole, and are a major influence on these young mothers and their babies.
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