Teenage Pregnancy: Teenage Mothers’ Experiences and Perspectives: A Qualitative Study

Yahya Muhammed Bah


Teenage pregnancy is both a social and a public health problem in The Gambia and as such it continues to be a concern to families, community leaders, educators, social workers, health care professionals, the government and its partners. Though there are some studies on the topic of teen pregnancy and school dropout, there is a limited material on the perceptions held by teens about teenage pregnancy, contributing factors and childbearing, difficulties encountered by teen parents, needed preventive and curative programmes. The purpose of the study was first to explore and describe the major causes of teenage pregnancy and childbearing despite the fact that contraceptive is widely available and family life education being taught in all schools. Secondly, examine the problems the teenagers encounter after becoming mothers. Thirdly, examine the ways the teen mothers cope and adapt to the situation of becoming mothers. An exploratory, descriptive, contextual and qualitative design was adopted. Semi-structured qualitative interviews and structured questionnaires were used to collect data from ten (10) teenage mothers and five (5) professionals. The data was presented and analysed through the narrative accounts which constituted the stories the teenage mothers tell about their own experiences and the views of the professionals.The findings revealed among other things, teenagers do not only need information and skills about how to abstain from unwanted or unhealthy sexual activity; they also need to receive accurate, balanced, age-appropriate information about sexuality and sexual behaviour. They need open discussions, hear up to date and consistent messages about responsible sexual behaviour, including information about contraception before they become sexually active. Furthermore able to develop the require skills in communication and sexual decision making so that sex does not “just happen.”Experiences clearly manifest that teenage pregnancy and childbearing is not the less a monolithic problem, but one with different causes and consequences. Acceptance and social support is critical in helping teenage mothers acquire problem solving skills which they can apply over their life span to enable them survive, develop, and achieve success, that enhances coping and adaptation to teenage pregnancy, childbearing and motherhood.

Keywords: teenage pregnancy, childbearing and motherhood.

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