The experience of early motherhood amongst Swazi adolescent girls
Adolescent motherhood is a reality amongst South African adolescent girls from all cultures. However, there is a scarcity of information available on Swazi adolescents’ experiences of early motherhood. The research consequently aimed at exploring and describing the experiences of early motherhood amongst Swazi adolescent girls. The participants were encouraged to describe their unique lived experiences as to the early period of adolescent motherhood (pregnancy included). Positive psychology provided the theoretical framework, and phenomenology was used as the methodical design for this qualitative study. Purposeful and snowball sampling was used to find the nine participants. Semistructured one-on-one interviews were conducted with Swazi girls ranging from the ages of 16 to 20 years. The interviews were conducted in English as a second language of the participants, and they all resided within the Nkomazi municipality in Mpumalanga, South Africa. The collected data were analyzed according to the interpretative phenomenological approach (IPA) and five main themes were identified: (a) The influence of emotions; (b) Social support during early adolescent motherhood; (c) Challenges experienced during early motherhood; (d) Personal growth; and (e) Resilience. The research findings indicate that early motherhood amongst Swazi adolescents comprises both positive and negative experiences and results in good and bad emotional experiences. All the participants experienced incidences in which their immediate environment (family, friends, community, neighbours, school, and boyfriends) rejected them and were unsupportive. This was especially evident in the ongoing lack of support offered by the biological father of the baby and the deterioration of original friendships. Ultimately however, it became apparent that the inherent Swazi culture and African principle of “Ubuntu” resulted in their being mostly accepted and supported. Furthermore, most participants experienced personal growth and a sense of maturity. Insights gained from motherhood resulted in participants making more responsible choices with regards to sexual behaviour, changes in their priorities, developing their characters, becoming more ambitious to achieve their personal life goals and becoming future orientated. The personal growth of most participants was clearly indicated by the mastering of several challenges related to early motherhood. A change in lifestyle was the most significant problem to overcome, and other challenges included the “burden” of being a provider, financial constraints in the present and future, interrupted education, loss of leisure time, and the experience of helplessness in times of need, for example when the baby is ill. Despite the fact that adolescent motherhood was experienced as a difficult occurrence, most participants (six of the nine) demonstrated high levels of resilience. These participants demonstrated effective coping strategies by taking responsibility and ownership of the difficulties associated with adolescent motherhood, and expressed the desire to be good mothers. Recommendations are given to enhance the well-being of Swazi adolescent mothers and the findings offer guidelines for a pregnancy prevention program as well as giving ideas on how to support adolescent girls in their journey of motherhood.
- Humanities