Replacement babies and teenage pregnancy

The 'replacement' baby is a common occurence, with many women conceiving within the first twelve months following an abortion. Less commonly talked about is where teenage girls consciously become pregnant to replace the sibling their mother aborted.

Bereavement and teenage mothers

Studies illustrate that when a teen experiences a recent loss, or other life changing event in her life, she becomes at risk for pregnancy.1

A teenager’s coping skills for dealing with grief are limited. Read Ava's story here.

When mothers of teenage children have an abortion, it can cause their children great emotional turmoil. Young teenage girls especially can grieve their lost sibling and often beg their mother to have another baby. Failing that, some teenage girls deliberately seek to become pregnant themselves. Read Stacie's story here.

There are few secrets in a family
Some mothers tell their older children that they have had an abortion, but there is evidence to suggest that some siblings can sense a lost brother or sister without confirmation that this has actually happened.

Imagine your child coming up to you and saying, "I had a great dream last night. I went to Heaven and played with my big brother, Jake." This happened to a woman who had never told her son about her abortion.

They have intuition. Dr Philip Ney, a practicing child and family psychiatrist in Canada, where he directs the International Institute for Pregnancy Loss and Child Abuse Research and Recovery, says that children often convey that knowledge, that their mother has had an abortion, through their dreams and their drawings.

He mentions a little girl who told him about a terrifying dream she had, in which three of her siblings had become buried in a tunnel they made in the sand. According to the mother she was an only child, but she later admitted she had three early miscarriages. The mother insisted her daughter could not have known about them.

"Often children show their intuitive awareness of other family members," he says, "by drawing extra children when asked to draw a picture of their whole family."

References:

  1. Currie JB, Jeckel JF, Klerman LV (1972) Subsequent pregnancies among teenage mothers enrolled in a special program. Am J Public Health 62:1606-1611.