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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The adolescent female’s experience of pregnancy Banks, Kathryn I.


Adolescent pregnancy is of concern to health professionals, adolescents themselves, and the communities in which they live. Much of the concern centers around health and social issues for the adolescent and her child. Adolescent females who become pregnant experience two developmental events simultaneously: adolescence and pregnancy. This makes their experience unique from other pregnant females. In order to optimize the health of adolescents and their infants during pregnancy, nurses need to understand the experience from the teens' perspective. Few studies have examined this experience from the adolescent's perspective. There is a paucity of discussion about nursing's role in the vast body of literature on adolescent pregnancy. The qualitative research method of phenomenology was utilized to investigate the female adolescent's experience of pregnancy, because it allowed the researcher to gain insight into the participants' lives as they were lived. Data were obtained from eight female adolescents during audio-tape recorded interviews. Trigger questions were used to explore the adolescent's perceptions of their experience of pregnancy. The interview audio-tapes were transcribed verbatim immediately following each interview. Giorgi's (1985) method of analysis wasused to identify themes in the data. Second interviews were usedto explore, clarify, and validate the emerging themes. Two central interrelated themes emerged from the data analysis. First, the young women described ambivalent feelings that they experienced throughout their pregnancies. Secondly, they viewed their pregnancies as a life changing event. The life change was characterized by five phases: (a) suspecting the pregnancy, (b) confirming the pregnancy, (c) making decisions about the pregnancy, (d) living the reality of the pregnancy, and (e) experiencing a changed life. Each young woman's experience of pregnancy was shaped by identified environmental and other factors that were important to her. The findings can assist nurses to provide better care for adolescents and their families. Two major conclusions were identified: (a) pregnancy and motherhood provided young women from unstable environments with meaning and a sense of purpose, (b) ambivalence captured the emotional impact of experiencing pregnancy and adolescence simultaneously for this vulnerable group. A variety of implications for nursing practice, education, research, and public policy are discussed.

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