Howard, Marion ONLY HUMAN: TEENAGE PREGNANCY AND PARENTHOOD New York: The Seabury Press, 1975, 288 pp., $8.95.
Ten per cent of American women conceive a child during their teenage years - primarily representing unplanned, unwanted events. Although our society is currently going through a phase of sexual freedom, "illegitimacy" and "had to get married" still have a tarnished ring. To complicate matters, sources of information regarding sex, contraception, pregnancy, and abortion are woefully inadequate.
In Only Human, fictionalized accounts of three teenage couples are presented. Their lives from the time of the conception through birth of the child and his development to age one year are recounted. All adapt to the situation in different ways, running the gamut of human responses and emotions. A terse medical review follows each section, analyzing the problems that have arisen and giving good information and sources for further help.
The stereotypes of pregnant girls, parental, peer, and school reactions, circumstances surrounding the conception, factual information on birth control, pregnancy, labor, and delivery, psychologic counseling, sources of aid, and the kinds of special problems encountered by the girl who elects to keep the baby and not marry are all discussed. These mothers are children themselves, and problems peculiar to this group are emphasized.
Any young girl or man personally confronted with the situation would benefit from reading this book. Aside from learning solutions to their problems, they would be bolstered by the fact that they are not alone and their circumstances are not unique.
Physicians will benefit from reading about the effect doctors have on these young people. At a time of such emotional upheaval, coupled with the physiologic imbalances normally seen in pregnancy, these patients need kind, understanding care and solid information. They do not need moralistic treatment. They are particularly vulnerable because their self-images are not well formulated.
I highly recommend this book for professionals, pregnant teenagers, teenage fathers, and their families.