A mixed reception: perceptions of pregnant adolescents' experiences with health care workers in Cape Town, South Africa

SOURCE: Reproductive Health
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
TITLE AUTHOR(S): R.Sewpaul, R.Crutzen, N.Dukhi, D.Sekgala, P.Reddy
DEPARTMENT: Public Health, Societies and Belonging (HSC)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 12094
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/16381
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11910/16381

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Maternal mortality among adolescent mothers in South Africa is higher than many middle-income countries. This is largely attributable to conditions that can be prevented or managed by high quality antenatal care. The way in which pregnant adolescents are treated at antenatal clinics influences their timely utilization of antenatal services. This qualitative study reports on the experiences of pregnant adolescents with health care workers when accessing antenatal care. Pregnant girls aged 13-19 (n=19) who attended public health care facilities that provide Basic Antenatal Care (BANC) services in Cape Town, South Africa were recruited. Four face to face in-depth interviews and four mini focus group discussions were undertaken, facilitated by a topic guide. Thematic analyses were used to analyse the data. Experiences that reinforce antenatal attendance, such as respectful and supportive treatment, were outweighed by negative experiences, such as victimization; discrimination against being pregnant at a young age; experiencing disregard and exclusion; inadequate provision of information about pregnancy, health and childbirth; clinic attendance discouragement; and mental health turmoil. There is evidence of a discordant relationship between the health care workers and the pregnant adolescents. Adolescents feel mistreated and discriminated against by the health care workers, which in turn discourages their attendance at antenatal clinics. Maternal health care workers need to receive support and regular training on the provision of youth friendly antenatal care and be regularly evaluated, to promote the provision of fair and high quality antenatal services for adolescent girls.