Since 1990 the United Kingdom has experienced an unprecedented focus upon adolescent pregnancy from Government. The Government has made its position clear that adolescent pregnancy and motherhood are a problem to be avoided (Department of Health Social Exclusion Unit Report 1999, Social Exclusion Unit Action Plan 2006). By 2010 it is the Government's intention to reduce adolescent pregnancy by 50% of the current figure of 9.5% to 4.5% of all pregnancies (Department of Health Social Exclusion Unit Report 1999, Social Exclusion Unit Action Plan 2006). It is clear that Government statistics need closer examination. Adolescent pregnancy is a broad concept and headline statistics do not distinguish between planned or unplanned pregnancy and subsequent motherhood. A review of literature and theories of motherhood reveals a lack of explicit comment regarding the position of adolescent motherhood. It is not clear whether the experience of motherhood is universal or if there is difference based upon age, maturity, social and economic status (Lawson and Rhode 1993, Arendell 2000). This qualitative study focuses on a group of 36 adolescent mothers attending a Pupil Referral Unit in the North East of England. The Unit offered the mothers an educational provision in order to complete compulsory education. Insight is gained into the lives and experiences of the mothers and the coping strategies they employ in their adaptation to the role of mother. An adapted grounded theory framework is utilised which incorporates three methodological approaches; an observation period of three months, five focus group interviews, and fourteen semi-structured interviews. The methodology generated rich data that reflected the respondent's experiences of motherhood. What became apparent during the study were the respondents' emotional reactions to pregnancy and motherhood. Emotional reactions included denial, anger with the biological father, isolation from friends, and the need to bargain for financial support. This qualitative study is significant in the exploration of the experiences, needs and emotional responses of adolescents regarding pregnancy and motherhood and the coping strategies they employ. Recommendations for Government include the consideration of long term strategies that support adolescent mothers and their children. Long term investment and evaluation can contribute to adolescent mothers returning to education and making a significant contribution to the economy.
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 1 May 2007|