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“My mom didn’t know anything about my pregnancy until just weeks before my due date, she kept on commenting on how different I looked but I would brush it off.My husband’s father asked why we didn’t tell them earlier and that we should not let our friends and relatives know about it until after our wedding,” she said.

I could have completed my studies and enjoyed life as a teenager.Priorities changed so much, too fast.” Now with three children, Elda is financially dependent on her family and her husband, who is a teacher paid on a daily rate.Having experienced the fear and anxiety of unplanned pregnancy, Elda is advising teenage girls to practice abstinence, noting the consequences not only burden family members but also affect the mother’s, child’s and family’s future.WHILE her classmates were spending their high school years studying and preparing for the O-level examinations, 18-year-old Elda was getting ready for motherhood but was also struggling to keep it a secret.Fearful of the consequences for being pregnant out of wedlock , Elda hid the truth from everyone including her parents until just weeks before her delivery. I didn’t know what to do or how to break it to my parents.

I wasn’t aware of the consequences of having sex,” said the young mother, whose name has been changed to protect her identity.“I was young, in love and didn’t know the repercussions of having sex. Elda was among the four per cent of Brunei’s annual birth rate who got pregnant in their teens due to unsafe sex.In the past five years, at least 200 out of Brunei’s 7,000 annual birth rates are attributed to unplanned teenage pregnancies.Recalling her ordeal three years ago, Elda, who is now 21 years old, knew then that her life was about to drastically change.“I realised something was happening inside my stomach, I didn’t know I was pregnant but because I was frequently having sex with my boyfriend, I decided to get a pregnancy test and that’s how I found out,” she said.Her pregnancy was later confirmed after a visit to a clinic in the capital, where the doctor told her that she was already 16 weeks into her pregnancy.