'I was buying past exam papers and a pregnancy test' - Life after teen pregnancy

Emma Doran discovered that she was pregnant when she was 18 and in 6th year at school
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

20.16 12 Dec 2023

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'I was buying past exam papers...

'I was buying past exam papers and a pregnancy test' - Life after teen pregnancy

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

20.16 12 Dec 2023

Share this article

Comedian Emma Doran has recalled how she sat her first Leaving Certificate exam just 13 days after giving birth.

Emma discovered that she was pregnant when she was 18. She was in 6th year at school and about to sit the State exams.

Ms Doran told Lunchtime Live she wanted to see the world.


"The summer before I went into 6th year I went off to discover the world," she said.

"I got as far as Courtown in Wexford and I got pregnant there.

"I think pretty much in the same week in September, I was buying my past exam papers for all my studying ahead and I was also buying a pregnancy test.

"That was 6th year for me".

'Optimistic about the future'

Ms Doran said there was a lot of talk about the future.

"By the time we got to 6th year we were all kind of nervous but optimistic about the future," she said.

"We were in a position for the first time to make choices about what we wanted to do, where we wanted to go, what our futures were going to be.

"There's a lot of excitement around it because people are planning Debs, they're talking about 6th year holidays."

'My world was falling apart'

Ms Doran said she didn't feel that optimism when she found out she was pregnant.

"Not to trivialise it, but I felt like my world was basically falling apart," she said.

"I thought my life was over, I thought, 'What am I going to do now?'

"How it worked out was I had my daughter and then 13 days later I sat my first exam - English Paper I.

"I would say that the first term of 6th year was completely lost for me psychologically, I completely checked out.

"I was thinking about, 'What am I going to do? How am I going to tell my parents?'

"You're going through a very adult thing but for all intents and purposes you're still a child".

'The worst thing that could happen'

Ms Doran said her friends would often talk about what they would do if they got pregnant.

"My daughter now is 20, but even looking back at it - I think the last [Magdalene] Laundry had only closed in 1996," she said.

"Even as a society, I feel like we had been moving forward but it takes lot of time for those things to actually change in people's minds.

"In our mind getting pregnant when you were a teenager was pretty high up there of the worst thing that could happen to you".

'Telling my parents'

Ms Doran recalls when she told her parents about the pregnancy.

"I wrote my mam a letter and I left it on the kitchen table and I vamoosed," she said.

"She came and found me, she just embraced me and said, 'Come home when you're ready'  - she was great.

"She told my Dad... and the first thing I heard him say about it was, 'Well I quite like the idea of being a grandad'.

"I wouldn't say my shoulders completely dropped, but there was a loosening in my shoulders because I knew I had their support".

More supports

Laura McCarthy from Teen Parents Support Programme, who was herself a teenage mother, told the show the supports are much better now.

"The likes of home tuition - we get funding here from the School Completion Programme - and it's to kind of encourage [women] back to education," she said.

"If a girl, say, found herself quite isolated, and it's very daunting going back to school... while you're pregnant you can do a course at home or on the side.

"It's just something we can fund without having the pressure financially for them.

"Anyone who finds themselves pregnant can come to us and we support them from antenatal up until the baby turns two," she added.

Ms McCarthy said more supports, and talking openly about pregnancy, are making things easier.

Anyone affected by issues raised in this article can contact The Teen Parents Support Programme on 087-251-8428 or email

Main image: Emma Doran. Image:

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