Motherhood in 16-19 year old women
This thesis reports a study of women, living in London, who became mothers when aged 16-19 years, and of their children. The women and children were white and black and came from a range of ethnic groups. In late pregnancy 102, 16-19 year old women were given short interviews and 79 were given in-depth interviews. Data from 85 of these combined samples were analyzed when their children were six months old and from 68 when they were 21 months old. Sixty two of their children were given a developmental test 21 months after birth. The study aimed to identify women's reasons for becoming pregnant and going on to have children; to get a good picture of how the women and their children fared over the course of the study and to consider intra-group differences that may have led some women to fare well and others to fare badly. The findings suggest that mothers under twenty are not as problematic as they are generally believed to be. Most of the women were aware of the contraceptive methods available. They had become pregnant for a range of reasons. These included wanting a child; not minding whether they conceived; their male partners' reported lack of concern about contraception; contraceptive failure and chance. The majority of the women did not consider that childbearing should be inextricably linked with marriage and many reported negative views about the benefits of marriage for women. Nonetheless, most of the single women expected to marry at some time. Most women and their children were faring well despite high rates of poverty. Good outcomes were partly mediated by the social support that women received (particularly from their own mothers who were generally more supportive than their children's fathers) and by the fact that their poor educational qualifications and labour market experiences meant that, for the great majority, early motherhood was not disruptive of their other life course careers.