Original Study| Volume 34, ISSUE 6, P847-856, December 2021

Birth Stories, Support, and Perinatal Emotional Health among Minority Adolescent Mothers: A Mixed Methods Study


      Study Objective

      To explore minority, adolescent birth and perinatal experiences to inform and improve quality of care for this unique group.


      Mixed quantitative and qualitative study guided by Bourdieu's Social Fields framework.


      Clinic dedicated to parenting adolescents, and a local charter school founded to serve pregnant and parenting young adults.


      Sample size for quantitative data: n = 27; qualitative data: n = 14. Average age was 16.39 years (SD = 1.29); most self-identified as Latina/Hispanic or African American/Black/Afro-Caribbean/African.

      Interventions and Main Outcome Measures

      We used 2 validated surveys: Birth Satisfaction Scale-Revised (BSS-R), and the Postpartum Worry Scale-Revised (PWS-R). The BSS-R has 10 items, and quantifies labor and delivery experiences. The PWS-R has 20 items, and quantifies maternal, infant, and social-emotional worries. The qualitative, semistructured 30-minute interviews with a subset of survey respondents further explored perinatal mental health, labor experiences, and support networks.


      BSS-R data resulted in an average score of 25.14 (SD = 5.35), which correlated to moderate satisfaction with birth experience (range, 0-40 with 0 = most negative). The PWS-R average score of 55.79 (SD = 21.06) indicated elevated postpartum worry (range, 20-100 with 20 = most worry). Qualitative interviewees worried about relationships and newborn well-being; support networks fluctuated; distinct events, pain, and fear during labor dominated birth stories. Advice for peers included: tending to social support, stress, and self-care. Nonjudgmental communication, empathy, and emotional connection were desired attributes of their health care team. Participants had anxiety related to social networks and newborn care. Although birth experiences were moderately positive, they were also described as stressful. However, participants were resourceful, insightful, and took advantage of social supports.


      Birth experiences, patterns of stress, and support networks are uniquely identified and utilized by adolescent mothers. Being heard and feeling connected to providers empowered this group of young, minority adolescents. Participant advice could inform future educational courses, programs, and hospital innovations for perinatal adolescents.

      Key Words

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