What is “Teen Mom: Young and Pregnant”?
The TV series premiered on MTV in March 2018, and has been surprisingly successful for a spin-off from a spin-off, with three seasons and over 65 episodes to date. Spawning from the “Teen Mom” franchise, which was inspired by “16 and Pregnant”, “Young and Pregnant” follows Kayla Sessler, Kiaya Elliott, Brianna Jaramillo, Rachel Beaver, Madisen Beith and others throughout their pregnancy and motherhood journey. Former cast members include Jade Cline, Kayla and Ashley Jones, and Lexi Tatman.
Meet The Cast
The Indianapolis, Indiana native Jade Cline is one of the show’s main characters. In September 2017, she gave birth to Kloie Kenna Austin, who was fathered by her boyfriend at the time, Sean Austin. The couple parted ways in February 2019, and the glamorous blonde is now working as a hair artist with her own business named Mane and Marble Hair Studios.
Jade and Sean have actually reconciled, and seem to go way back, having known each other since 2014. Although their shared history has at times been a little dysfunctional, the pair now proudly profess their love on social media, with Jade captioning one photo: “Having a healthy relationship with someone who loves you is everything. So proud of my little family.”
Brianna Jaramillo, born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, gave birth to Braeson Messiah Jaramillo in late summer 2017. In the show’s first season, Brianna uprooted her life and moved to Portland, Oregon. She was also criticized for entering a relationship with Robert Reams, just months after Braeson’s birth, instead of focusing on motherhood; perhaps unsurprisingly, their fledging love story lasted less than a year, as they called it quits in October 2018.
Some of the radical changes Brianna’s life has undergone since appearing in the show include a make-over and her only son’s first day at kindergarten. She maintains a close relationship with other “Young and Pregnant” cast members, but has yet to share details of her profession or current love life. Her mother, Jess, is fully supportive of every decision she takes, and is always there to lend her daughter a helping hand.
Kayla Sessler hails from DeKalb, Illinois, and gave birth to Izaiah Cole Sessler in late September 2017. Things didn’t work out with the father, her now ex-boyfriend Stephen Alexander, and in February 2019 Kayla shocked fans after announcing her second pregnancy with a new boyfriend named Luke Davis. Kayla gave birth to her daughter, Ariah Jordynn Davis, in August 2019.
Following the entrepreneurial route just like Jade, Kayla is a proud business owner of not one but two establishments: Brows by Kayla and It’s Kayla’s Kloset. Fashion and beauty are clearly her thing, but the young mother also raised some eyebrows when she promoted a dubious sex toy giveaway for her followers in summer 2022. Luke and Kayla have had numerous ups and downs, but Luke is generally praised for treating Izaiah as his own after Stephen stepped away from the situation.
Fourth on the list is Ashley Jones of Vallejo, California. In September 2017, she gave birth to Holly Isabella Lockett, and went on to marry Holly’s father, Bariki Smith. Lately, Ashley has been proving her strengths with a podcast and her own cooking show “The Siren Pot”, in which she displays her culinary talents to thousands of Instagram followers.
Ashley also loves looking polished and put together, and has become something of a style icon for the youth. With almost 600,000 Instagram followers as of October 2022, the stunning Californian has a varied social media feed, with everything from Baths & Body Works hauls to photos of her cute daughter or the occasional TikTok couple.
Alexis Tatman, affectionately nicknamed Lexi, was born in Montrose, Colorado, and gave birth to the originally-named Ryker Lopez-DeLuna in October 2017. She welcomed her second boy, Jay Wolfe, with boyfriend Kyler Lopez in August 2019. A down-to-earth individual, Alexis has no airs of grandeur despite her ever-growing fame, and enjoys the little things in life such as spending time with her nearest and dearest.
In autumn 2022, Alexis and Kyler made things official when they walked down the aisle. Alexis shared a few photos of the nuptials and said: “So many things have been said about us. About our relationship. I knew I was going to marry you when I was 13, 9 years later we finally said I do. I love you.”
As for Rachel Beaver, she was slammed by “Young and Pregnant” fans from the beginning due to seeing her on-again-off-again boyfriend Drew and his best friend Jacob at the same time when she conceived. In late summer 2022, she declared that mental health was more important than money, and that she would be leaving the show after a barrage of online hate and an argument with her co-stars which was filmed and aired.
Rachel has always been something of an eccentric character, and she has also claimed to be the most disliked young mother on the show. Her co-parenting situation with Drew is unknown, but Rachel has promised fans that she will be starting a YouTube channel soon, to show them her authentic life away from the cameras, so perhaps they’ll see how she and Drew parent their young daughter Hazelee.
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Following Rachel is Kiaya Elliot, who also has a somewhat controversial pregnancy story, albeit with a happier ending. The Virginia native became pregnant shortly after being cheated on by her girlfriend Teazha. X’Zayveon, the father of her child, was imprisoned early on in the pregnancy – but Teazha stepped in and helped Rachel raise Amour Elliot despite their messy history.
In May 2022, X’Zayveon was released from prison after a three-year sentence, but has yet to share his fatherhood plans. However, the convicted felon seems stuck in his ways and sparked controversy after posing with guns on Instagram just four months after his release. His prior convictions include possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, and firearm possession, so we hope X’Zayveon will stay out of trouble, and perhaps be active in his son’s life.
Madisen Beith found out she was pregnant in the show’s third season and was 17 years old when Camille Victoria was born, the daughter she shares with now ex-boyfriend Christien. Madisen is blessed to have a loving and supportive family, but doesn’t always appreciate them, which has led to strong online criticism, especially after taking advantage of her father by asking him to clean her filthy apartment in September 2022.
The argument began when Madisen’s friend Autumn – sister to Josh, the TV star’s new boyfriend – invited the former to stay at her house in Arkansas, seeing as Madisen didn’t want to stay in her hometown. Madisen said yes and then called her father asking him to head over to her apartment and get rid of everything except the microwave, coffee machine, and toaster. Her father was disappointed after seeing the state of Madisen’s home, and had strong words with his daughter, who was called “spoiled” by fans of the show after the incident.
The Laurel, Maryland native Kayla Jones shares one daughter named Mecca with now ex-boyfriend Makel. Kayla and Makel go through plenty of drama, given that Makel constantly has new girlfriends around their young child; a few people feel that Makel isn’t obligated to help out with Mecca at all, given that Kayla became pregnant via a sperm donor.
Kayla and Makel were dropped from “Young and Pregnant” in summer 2022 for unknown reasons. In February of the same year, she’d announced another pregnancy, but was slammed after revealing that she wasn’t in a serious relationship with the father of her second child either. Of the mysterious guy, Kayla simply said: “We were dealing with each other for months, but it was never like [real]… It just happened.”
“16 and Pregnant”
“16 and Pregnant” was one of the first series to show the gritty hardships of teen pregnancy and young motherhood; despite coming to an end in July 2014 after several popular seasons, its legacy lives on. The show premiered on MTV in June 2009, and featured different teen girls in every episode; each episode would follow them from the fourth to eighth months of pregnancy, until their baby was a few months old.
The show’s five spin-offs are “Teen Mom”, “Teen Mom 2”, “Teen Mom 3”, “Teen Mom: Young and Pregnant”, and “16 and Recovering”. The original series was revived in October 2020, but failed to achieve the success of its predecessor. Of course, a series dealing with such sensitive topics is bound to be met with mixed criticism, and “16 and Pregnant” was accused of misrepresentation, glamorizing teen pregnancy, and more.
Originally, the show’s intent was to educate teenage girls to the realities of pregnancy and motherhood at their young ages. At one point, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy claimed that the show helped decrease teenage pregnancy, and it was also found to be a successful method of intervention for girls between 15 and 16 who lived in states where sex education wasn’t a mandatory subject in schools.
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— Pluto TV UK (@PlutoTVUK) August 15, 2022
However, a 2014 study showed that young viewers of “16 and Pregnant” were more likely to view teenage motherhood in an unrealistic way. As the show’s participants generally had happy endings, and often went on to do great things, or at least make the best out of an unfortunate situation, these viewers also thought that the benefits of teen pregnancy outweighed its many risks.
Cynics doubted that the show could have such an effect on teen pregnancy, given that the 2007-2008 financial crisis had just wrecked the economy. A study published in 2014 by The National Bureau of Economic Research suggested that the show’s premiere had contributed to a 4.3% decrease in teenage births in the US, pointing to the increase in search activity about abortion and birth control that occurred around the same time. The subjects also became increasingly discussed on Twitter, and other large social media platforms.
A rather contradictory study was published just two years later, which suggested that the prior research was wildly inaccurate, so it’s a question of who you want to believe. Regardless, it must be said that “16 and Pregnant” and its countless spin-offs and associated shows have shaped the public perception of teen pregnancy, and helped raise awareness to its negative side.
It’s estimated that 15% of young women around the world give birth before their 18th birthday. Statistically, many of these girls are forced to stop studying, which negatively impacts their educational and employment opportunities and prospects. Social consequences must also be taken into consideration, and include but aren’t limited to rejection and violence from family members and peers, reduced status in the home and community, early and forced marriage, and others.
Economic and social effects aside, adolescent girls are also vulnerable to health problems such as systemic infections, obstetric fistula, puerperal endometritis, eclampsia, and more, which are caused by pregnancy and delivery. Maternal conditions are one of the top causes of death amongst 15-to-19-year-olds, along with tuberculosis, self-harm, road injuries, and diarrheal diseases.
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The prevalence of teen pregnancy varies wildly from country to country. Developed regions such as Australia, Western Europe, the US, Canada and New Zealand tend to view adolescent pregnancy as a social issue. Meanwhile, teen parents in Eastern Europe, the Pacific Islands, Africa, Asia, Latin America and other developing regions have a different outlook, given that many of them marry at a much younger age.
Early pregnancy in developing regions comes with a whole array of further risks, such as long-term medical problems which are a combination of malnutrition and unsatisfactory healthcare. Every year, 13 million children are born to women aged 20 or younger; 90% of these births occur in developing countries.
Of course, measures have been taken to prevent adolescent pregnancy, mainly in industrialized countries, and include responsible sex education, improving social development via community programs, and enhancing contraceptive counseling and delivery. Abstinence education has been found to be counter-productive, unrealistic, and is slowly being phased out in many places.