The study explores the transition to motherhood for adolescent girls in a rural community in the Central Region of Ghana from the prenatal period to one year post partum. Theoretical assertions influential to the research are psychosocial development, transition experiences, and the concept of becoming a mother. Aims of the study were to explore and describe the adolescent girl’s experience of the transition to motherhood and to use themes and categories identified in interviews to describe guidelines for interventions with young girls. In-depth interviews were conducted with 14 young mothers aged 14 to 18 at the time of first birth as well as 11 maternal grandmothers. Young mothers were asked about defining experiences in the pre and post natal periods. Additional questions included their views on motherhood and implications of the pregnancy for their personal goals, future plans, and purpose in life. Interviews with grandmothers began with the question: "Can you describe the decisions, events, and emotions surrounding the pregnancy, birth, and experience of the new mother?" A nurse midwife in a community health center was also interviewed to determine procedures for maternity care and reproductive health counseling for adolescents. Additionally, an elder in the community was interviewed for information on customary practices regarding courtship, marriage, and childbearing, as well as traditional penalties for paternal in-laws when fathers deny paternity.
A seven-stage process for analysis of narrative texts guided the data analysis. Three themes emerged: pregnancy as disruption and loss, embracing the realities of motherhood, and deprivation of opportunity. Themes were used to infer guidelines for interventions with adolescent mothers. Interventions need to address fundamental antecedents of early sexual activity and childbearing, such as poverty, low educational attainment, and inadequate reproductive health information. Additional factors that hamper adolescent development in the community are limited opportunities for career advancement and other mainstream behaviors indicative of adult status. Though maternal grandmothers offered support for young mothers, community involvement is essential to foster positive outcomes of early childbearing. Communities need to enforce customary sanctions against absent fathers, provide childcare assistance, and reduce the stigma of off-time childbearing so mothers can maintain psychological well-being.
|Subjects||Social work; Women's studies; Developmental psychology|
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