Perceptions of teen motherhood in Australian adolescent females: Life-line or life derailment
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Purpose The findings presented in this paper describe the beliefs and attitudes of three different groups of adolescent females about teen motherhood. These were elicited from a larger analysis that explored and theorized contraceptive pathways in a sample of young Australian women. Methods A purposive sample of females aged 14 to 19 years was recruited from three distinct populations in the city of Perth, Western Australia: (1) never-pregnant; (2) pregnant-terminated; and (3) pregnant-continued. Grounded theory principles were used to analyze data generated from 69 semi-structured interviews conducted over a 21 month period (2006-2008). Results Two categories that described teenagers' attitudes to pregnancy and motherhood were elicited from the analysis. These explained the level of priority that teenagers placed on using contraception and postponing the transition to parenthood. The category labeled 'life derailment' represented how those who had never had a pregnancy or had terminated a pregnancy constructed teen motherhood as potentially restricting their personal, career and social transition to adulthood. The alternative category, 'life-line', reflected how those who continued with their pregnancy perceived teen motherhood as a positive and transformative experience that fostered personal growth. Conclusions The findings from this study contribute further insight into the complex nature of adolescent contraceptive use and pregnancy risk. The analysis has strengthened evidence of the critical role of self-perceptions of pregnancy and childbearing on teenagers' fertility outcomes. It has also emphasized the broader life circumstances that shape these attitudes, intentions and related behavior. Strategies directed toward academic support and vocational skill development may broaden teenage girls' perceived future options and achievement capacity, thus influencing key reproductive health outcomes.
Women and Birth
Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified