The lived experience of being pregnant for women under the age of nineteen: Young and pregnant

Payne, Julie
Smythe, Liz
Hunter, Marion
Barlow, Anne
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Master of Health Science
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Auckland University of Technology

The purpose of this hermeneutic phenomenological research is to ‘show’ the lived experience of young pregnant women. The research question asks, “What is the experience of ‘being pregnant’ for women under the age of nineteen”? The method used is described by van Manen (1990). The data analysis draws on notions from Heidegger (1962). This research was set in the context of South Auckland, New Zealand where eleven young women were interviewed. They experience ‘being pregnant’ in the context of their ethnicity, religious beliefs and socio-economic status. Further, they face the opinions and judgments of a societal view that they are too young to be pregnant. This research revealed that young pregnant women experience many paradoxes and tensions in ‘being pregnant’. These are reflected in all the changes they go through as they ‘come to accept’ being pregnant and as they ‘become’ significantly changed. It has highlighted that young pregnant women ‘need others’ in their lives to provide them with necessary support and care during pregnancy. Knowing that they are pregnant throws their lives into disarray. These young women talked of a sense that it was ‘right’ to keep on with the pregnancy, even in the face of many difficulties. They are pulled by the social forces of peers to continue behaviours that put their fetus at risk. It is only when it hits them that they really are going to have a baby that they begin to take responsibility for safe, healthy living. This research has exposed the need for midwives to ‘work along side’ young pregnant women assisting them in making the experience of ‘being pregnant’ easier. It is vital that midwives earn the trust of the young women if their care is to be effective. This is done by midwives providing continuity of care, making home visits and giving appropriate information in a sensitive manner. Midwifery care needs to be flexible, tailored to the individual needs of each young pregnant woman.

Teenage pregnancy , Midwifery , Pregnancy , New Zealand
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