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Reflections of Native American Teen Mothers


Janelle Palacios, PhD, RN, University of California, San Francisco, School of Nursing, Department of Family Health Care Nursing, 2 Koret Way, N411Y, San Francisco, CA 94143-0606.


Objective: To understand the previously lived experience of early childbearing among adult Native American women.

Design: A community-based participatory research approach.

Setting: The first interview took place at a mutually agreed-upon time and place and averaged 120 minutes. Second interviews were conducted 1 to 3 months later.

Participants: A convenience sample of 30 self-identified Native American adult women was recruited, and a semistructured interview explored their early childbearing experiences.

Method: An interpretive phenomenological study was conducted with a Northwestern tribe.

Results: All of the women in the study described stressful childhoods. Two primary themes were identified: Chaotic childhoods represented stressful events in youth that introduced or resulted in ongoing chaos in women's lives and diminished childhoods described early maturity as a result of assuming extensive responsibilities at a young age.

Conclusions: The findings suggest that the childhood experiences described by participants may be related to the risk for early childbearing. Prospective research should examine the relationship between young women's lives and early childbearing to design interventions to support them in postponing pregnancy and when they do become pregnant.