Support for teenage mothers: a qualitative study into the views of women about the support they received as teenage mothers
Aim of the study. To gain insight into the support teenage mothers received during pregnancy, birth and their child’s pre-school years and young women’s perceptions of the usefulness of a support group for teenage mothers.
Background. Most qualitative studies have focused on teenage mothers around the time of the birth of their first child. For this study, women were recruited several years after the birth (median 8·5 years), so that they would have had time to reflect on the support they had received.
Design. The qualitative method of semi-structured interviews was chosen to obtain in-depth information and to allow teenage mothers’ own views to be heard. Ten individual interviews and one paired interview were undertaken.
Findings. Recruitment was difficult because taking part in research was not a priority for many of the women. The study confirmed the strong link between deprivation and teenage pregnancy found in other studies, and suggested that mental health problems in teenage mothers may be more difficult to detect. Teenage women need more information on mental health and on services available to them. The fear, expressed by some of the women in this study, of becoming different from other women in their social network should be considered by health workers when establishing intervention programmes.
Conclusions. Professional bodies of health workers should lobby government to provide a minimum standard of living and sufficient child-care to combat deprivation. Former teenage mothers should be involved in the recruitment, planning and implementation stages of research and interventions. Health professionals should be aware that mental health problems in teenage mothers may be particularly difficult to detect. Key community health workers or a support group may provide information on services, mental health and education facilities available that would benefit teenage mothers. A support group may also give emotional support.