“My Body is Strong and Amazing”: Embodied Experiences of Pregnancy and Birth among Young Women in Foster Care

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Foster youth become pregnant at 2–3 times the rate of the general U.S. adolescent population. Yet, there is a dearth of literature exploring experiences of pregnancy and birth among such young women. This phenomenological study included 18 in-depth interviews with six mothers aged 19–22 years in or transitioning from foster care. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, the specific phenomenological method used in this study, proceeded through six steps: 1. reading and re-reading; 2. initial noting; 3. developing emergent themes; 4. developing superordinate themes; 5. repeating steps 1–4 for each case; and 6. developing a set of final themes. This process yielded three themes characterizing how young women in foster care experience the phenomenon of pregnancy and birth: 1) Personal Pain, Personal Renewal; 2) Unplanned Pregnancies, Intentional Births; and 3) Powerful Bodies, Powerful Families. Findings extend the existing literature on adolescent pregnancy and childbirth, particularly among foster youth; related implications are discussed.



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