Experiences of pregnancy and motherhood among teenage mothers in a suburb of Accra, Ghana: a qualitative study
Nana Yaa Konadu Gyesaw,1 Augustine Ankomah2
1Regional Health Directorate, Ghana Health Service, Koforidua, Eastern Region, 2Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health, School of Public Health, University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana
Background: The proportion of teenage girls who are mothers or who are currently pregnant in sub-Saharan African countries is staggering. There are many studies regarding teenage pregnancy, unsafe abortions, and family planning among teenagers, but very little is known about what happens after pregnancy, ie, the experience of teenage motherhood. Several studies in Ghana have identified the determinants of early sexual activity, contraception, and unsafe abortion, with teenage motherhood only mentioned in passing. Few studies have explored the experiences of adolescent mothers in detail with regard to their pregnancy and childbirth. This qualitative study explores the experiences of adolescent mothers during pregnancy, childbirth, and care of their newborns.
Methods: This qualitative study was based on data from focus group discussions and indepth interviews with teenage mothers in a suburb in Accra. Participants were recruited from health facilities as well as by snowball sampling.
Results: Some of the participants became pregnant as a result of transactional sex in order to meet their basic needs, while others became pregnant as a result of sexual violence and exploitation. A few others wanted to become pregnant to command respect from people in society. In nearly all cases, parents and guardians of the adolescent mothers were upset in the initial stages when they heard the news of the pregnancy. One key finding, quite different from in other societies, was how often teenage pregnancies are eventually accepted, by both the young women and their families. Also observed was a rarity of willingness to resort to induced abortion.
Conclusion: Special programs should be initiated by the government and the various responsible departments to address ignorance on sexual matters, and the challenges and risks associated with pregnancy and parenting by adolescents. Parenting techniques should be taught in sex education programs.
Keywords: teenage pregnancy, teenage motherhood, adolescents, unmarried teenagers, focus group discussions, Ghana
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