Early motherhood: Voices from female adolescents in the Hohoe Municipality, Ghana—a qualitative study utilizing Schlossberg’s Transition Theory


Sitsofe Gbogbo, School of Public Health, University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ho, Ghana; Institute of Education, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany


Adolescent childbearing is a major public health issue and has received considerable attention in the past years, due to the extensive range of health-related problems associated with it. Adolescent pregnancy is one contributing factor to maternal and child mortality across many countries, and also in the cycle of intergenerational poverty and poor health. Evidence has shown that there is an association between adolescent pregnancy and socio-economic difficulty, which includes discontinuation of education, single parenting, and reduced employment prospects. Using Schlossberg’s Transition Theory, this study aimed to explore and describe the lived experiences of pregnant adolescents and adolescent mothers and the strategies they utilized during their transition to early motherhood.


Based on an interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) perspective, this qualitative study used in-depth interviews (IDIs) and focus group discussions (FGDs) to answer the research question. The process of data gathering included 8 FGDs and 12 IDIs held with adolescent mothers and pregnant adolescents. Audio recordings were transcribed and imported into MAXQDA 2018 for analysis. As the aim of this study is to explore the lived experiences of adolescent pregnant girls and adolescent mothers, the researcher considered IPA to be the suitable instrument for analysis. This approach allowed the researcher to discover some aspects of the lives of these adolescent women that would not have emerged during casual conversation


Applying the interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), four key themes emerged. This included: news of pregnancy; adolescent motherhood; social support and coping strategies. The findings display female adolescents’ expressions of some of the negative aspects of motherhood they have been confronted with that have affected their lives. The dominant societal challenges posited by the adolescents included coping with economic and financial constraints, opting for unsafe abortion to reduce stigma associated with unplanned pregnancy, and managing the extra responsibility of taking care of the baby and the challenge of going back to school after delivery.


This research shows that the adolescent girls felt very disappointed when they realized they were pregnant. Due to feelings of shame and stigma, some of them opted for abortions, which are mostly not professionally done. A lack of appropriate interventions such as counselling and social support for the adolescent women did not encourage them to make positive decisions such as going back to school after childbirth. Also, the males responsible for the pregnancy mostly did not take full responsibility in terms of financial support and bringing up the child. Service providers, such as teachers, sometimes failed to create a conducive environment for the adolescent women to freely access facilities without stigma.


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