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Keywords:

  • American Indian;
  • culture;
  • early childbearing;
  • interpretive phenomenology;
  • maternal role;
  • mothering;
  • native American;
  • nurses;
  • parenting;
  • qualitative;
  • teen pregnancy

Abstract

Aims

The aim of this study was to explore the mothering experience and practice among reservation-based adult American Indian women who had been adolescent mothers.

Background

Adolescent American Indian women are at an elevated risk for teen pregnancy and poor maternal/child outcomes. Identifying mothering practices among this population may help guide intervention development that will improve health outcomes.

Design

A collaborative orientation to community-based participatory research approach.

Methods

Employing interpretive phenomenology, 30 adult American Indian women who resided on a Northwestern reservation were recruited. In-depth, face-to-face and telephone interviews were conducted between 2007–2008.

Findings

Women shared their mothering experience and practice, which encompassed a lifespan perspective grounded in their American Indian cultural tradition. Four themes were identified as follows: mother hen, interrupted mothering and second chances, breaking cycles and mothering a community. Mothering originated in childhood, extended across their lifespan and moved beyond mothering their biological offspring.

Conclusion

These findings challenge the Western construct of mothering and charge nurses to seek culturally sensitive interventions that reinforce positive mothering practices and identify when additional mothering support is needed across a woman's lifespan.