While they love their children dearly, the teenage mums at Rotorua's School for Young Parents have a message for others: "Don't get pregnant young."

The school, one of 22 teen parent units in New Zealand, lets teenage mothers continue their education while their children are cared for.

While having a baby young is tough it doesn't mean your life is ruined, according to three students.

BK, 17, has a 19-month-old daughter. "Mum was disappointed [when I got pregnant] because she was a young mum ... she didn't want her struggles for me."

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BK now loves being a mum and plans to go to university to become a sonographer or midwife.

She believes school health classes need to be more realistic.

"They say have safe sex but they don't tell you about the consequences of not using protection, what it's really like [having a baby]."

Having her son two years ago changed the life of 19-year-old B.

"I got into a lot of trouble before I was pregnant. I was heading down the wrong path," she said. "I needed an education so I can get a good job to provide for my son."

Next year she starts a Waiariki course and eventually aims to join the police force and help troubled kids.

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Tia, 18, has two 2-year-old boys who are 10 months apart.

She said if it wasn't for the young parents' school, she didn't know where she would be.

"I wouldn't go to school. I wouldn't feel like I fit in with everybody else."

She will also study at Waiariki next year.

Teacher in charge Barbara Stewart said she did not believe more sex education was the sole answer to unplanned teenage pregnancies.

"There are wider factors [such as] socio-economic backgrounds, drug and alcohol abuse, early trauma and [whether their] own parent were teen parents," she said.

She said her school aimed to lift teen mums' self esteem and give them direction.

"We're about empowering them to make good decisions for them and their children."