Perspectives that consider teenage mothers as a ‘social problem’ are well described in the literature. However, the attitudes towards teenage mothers held by other teenage mothers are not well understood. Given the growing use of peer support in the reproductive health of teenagers, the attitudes of teenage mothers towards their contemporaries is worthy of exploration. We aimed to examine the discourse around teenage pregnancy in teenage mothers who have recently experienced teenage pregnancy and motherhood for themselves. Fourty mothers aged 16 -19, who had recently given birth and used a homebased sexual health service took part in semi structured interviews to explore their views on pregnancy in other teenagers. The analytical framework of ‘othering’ and resistance are used to examine their discourse around teenage pregnancy in teenage mothers. Findings indicate that teenage pregnancy and parenting in teenage mother contemporaries is not always viewed positively. Some teenage mothers in this study used strategies to distance themselves from perceived negativity. Two overarching themes emerged from the data: Constructions of moral judgement and Maintenance of positive self-representations. The negative portrayal of teenage pregnancy within wider society impacts the ongoing stigma attached to teenage pregnancy within the teenage population. Approaches such as peer education and peer support used in reproductive health should not be considered neutral, taken for granted processes, but may be complex and more nuanced. Health and social care professionals supporting young parents should be aware of the potential for stigma, discrimination, isolation and exclusion within teenage peer groups. Policy makers need to ensure young mothers have access to a broad range of support opportunities and this should include formal, professional support.
Jones, C., Whitfield, C., Seymour, J., & Hayter, M. (2019). Other Girls: a qualitative exploration of teenage mothers views on teen pregnancy in contemporaries. Sexuality and Culture, 23(3), 760–773. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-019-09589-4