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Open Access Research article

Negotiating the transition from adolescence to motherhood: Coping with prenatal and parenting stress in teenage mothers in Mulago hospital, Uganda

Dan K Kaye

Author Affiliations

Makerere University Medical School, Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynecology, P.O. Box 7072, Kampala, Uganda

BMC Public Health 2008, 8:83  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-83

Published: 4 March 2008

Abstract

Background

Adolescence is a transitional stage from childhood to adulthood that is characterized by physical, physiological, psychosocial and behavioral changes that are influenced to a large extent by the age, culture and socialization of the individual. To explore what adolescent mothers perceive as their struggles during the period of transition from childhood to parenthood (through motherhood) and to describe strategies employed in coping with stress of pregnancy, motherhood and parenthood.

Methods

Longitudinal qualitative study involving twenty two in-depth interviews and six focus group discussions among pregnant adolescents who were followed from pregnant to delivery, from January 2004 to August 2005. Participant were selected by theoretical sampling and data was analyzed using grounded theory.

Results

Overall, young adolescents reported more anxiety, loss of self esteem (when they conceived), difficulty in accessing financial, moral and material support from parents or partners and stigmatization by health workers when they sought care from health facilities. Three strategies by which adolescent mothers cope with parenting and pregnancy stress that were described as utilizing opportunities (thriving), accommodating the challenges (bargaining and surviving), or failure (despairing), and varied in the extent to which they enabled adolescents to cope with the stress.

Conclusion

Adolescents on the transition to motherhood have variable needs and aspirations and utilize different strategies to cope with the stress of pregnancy and parenthood.