Barriers to accessing maternal health care amongst pregnant adolescents in South Africa: a qualitative study
Erasmus, Michelle Olivia
Knight, Lucia C.
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This study explores the barriers to accessing antenatal care (ANC) services amongst pregnant adolescents within a particular community of South Africa. Methods: An exploratory qualitative design was applied to examine the views of pregnant adolescents. In-depth interviews were conducted with pregnant adolescents at the Mitchells Plain Midwifery Obstetric Unit, as well as nursing staff working at the facility. Thematic analysis was then used and analysis was framed using the social–ecological model for health-seeking behaviour. Results: This study found that barriers to adolescents seeking ANC often centered on a discourse of adolescent pregnancy being deviant, irresponsible, and shameful. Pregnant adolescents often absorbed these beliefs and were fearful of other’s reaction within their family, the community, at school, and within the ANC facilities. Conclusions: Stigma regarding adolescent pregnancy participates in the perpetuation of a culture of non-disclosure and shame, which stands in the way of young pregnant people seeking the care they require. Such beliefs and attitudes need to be challenged at a community and national level.