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The Experience of Pregnancy as Lived by Rural Adolescents

Esther M. Preszler, South Dakota State University


Adolescent pregnancy continues to affect over one million families in the United States each year, of which 7.5% of South Dakota's babies were born to single teens between 1988-1992 (Center for the Study of Social Policy, 1993). Many studies have been conducted utilizing inner-city adolescents and quantitative methods of research.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the lived experience of being an unmarried pregnant adolescent. Seven pregnant, rural adolescents were interviewed to identify, describe and analyze any changes they experienced in supportive relationship patterns during their pregnancy. The participants, with a mean age of 16.2 years, were enrolled in school, and lived with at least one parent.
During analysis of the data obtained from the interviews, six major themes emerged. The themes Altered Relationships. (which included her mother, father and father of the baby) and Ego Strengthening were descriptive of the alterations in relationships the pregnant adolescent experienced. Pregnancy Protectiveness, Economic Pressures and Right of Passage reflected the psychosocial changes they experienced. Future Aspirations identified the influence of the pregnancy on their goals to complete and continue school, to better provide for their babies. The themes were reviewed and confirmed by five of the study participants as being descriptive and significant in their experience of being pregnant. The themes identified by the sample were supported in varying degrees in previous research studies (May, 1992; Townsend and Worobey, 1987) of the need for emotional support during adolescent pregnancy.
One participant summed her pregnancy experience as: "I wasn't really ready for it...or I didn't think so, but, now, I've got so much to work for, and to look forward to".