International Day of the Girl 2023

Photo: Save the Children

On International Day of the Girl we raise awareness for all of the girls who have become mothers too soon, and their unique needs as first-time parents. We also advocate for the protection of girls rights and condemn early and forced marriages, often leading to girls becoming mothers before they are ready.

Due to social and biological vulnerabilities, pregnancy in adolescence is associated with poor health outcomes for mothers and newborns. First-time parents use of health services during and following pregnancy is often low, due to limited decision-making power, stigma, lack of resources, and judgmental attitudes from health workers. Rapid repeat pregnancies, defined as less than 24 months after the previous birth, increase risk of preterm birth, low birthweight, small size for gestational age, and infant and early childhood mortality—and, in many contexts, are more common among adolescent mothers.

Early pregnancy is also associated with adverse education and economic outcomes for mothers. A focus on increasing FTPs’ timely and continued use of health services across the continuum of care—antenatal care, maternity, postnatal, newborn, and postpartum family planning—is essential to improving health and other outcomes for mothers and babies.

Comprehensive approaches targeting FTPs have yielded promising results, increasing use of family planning and other health services, improving social support for FTPs, and encouraging more gender-equitable household practices. Projects and research with FTPs have shown several common essential elements.

Learn more on our First-Time Parents Issue page.