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Teenage and pregnant : an exploratory study of pregnant teenagers and their antenatal education needs in the Palmerston North region : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Midwifery at Massey University
Teenage pregnancies have become an issue of increasing concern in New Zealand with the second highest teenage pregnancy rate in the world. Pregnant teenagers do not seek early antenatal care for a variety of reasons and are very unlikely to participate in antenatal education. Limited evidence in the literature shows teenage antenatal education can prevent problems developing not only for the teenage mother and her baby's health but also reduce the risks associated with social and maternal behaviours including substance abuse and other addictive behaviours. This qualitative study aimed to explore needs and issues that might surround and affect teenage antenatal education, and as a result provide midwives and childbirth educators with a clearer understanding of the antenatal education needs and issues as a basis for providing effective antenatal education. 30 participants, distributed over four focus groups, each comprising of 8 - 10 pregnant teenagers or recent teenage mothers, were interviewed in the Palmerston North region, New Zealand. All participants were expecting their first baby or had recently given birth to their first baby and had all attended at least one antenatal education session. The data identified what participants liked and disliked about antenatal education and described factors that would support the participants having their needs met by antenatal education. Interpretation of these findings formed the basis of recommendations for a teenage antenatal education programme. Overall it showed clearly that a developmental based programme with a participatory development format is the most effective way of providing antenatal education for pregnant teenagers. This needs to take the form of a teenage support group lasting the whole pregnancy rather then the traditional approach of a set course for a limited time towards the end of the pregnancy. Detailed topic recommendations were also made by participants including what kind of physical environment would encourage pregnant teenagers to feel 'at home' and what qualities were desirable in a facilitator of a teenage antenatal education programme.