Qualitative accounts of teenage and emerging adult women adjusting to motherhood

Mulherin, Kate and Johnstone, Melissa (2015) Qualitative accounts of teenage and emerging adult women adjusting to motherhood. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 33 4: 388-401. doi:10.1080/02646838.2015.1042963

Author Mulherin, Kate
Johnstone, Melissa
Title Qualitative accounts of teenage and emerging adult women adjusting to motherhood
Journal name Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1469-672X
Publication date 2015-05-26
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1080/02646838.2015.1042963
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 33
Issue 4
Start page 388
End page 401
Total pages 14
Place of publication Abingdon, Oxon,United Kingdom
Publisher Routledge
Collection year 2016
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Objective: The aim of this study was to better understand how young women in their early 20s transition and adjust to motherhood in the first year postpartum, compared to teenage mothers.

Background: A body of research suggests that teen mothers have unique challenges and experiences adjusting to motherhood. However, less research has focussed on mothers in their early 20s, who have increasingly become a minority in Western countries, and are supposedly adjusting to motherhood in a new developmental period characterised by self-focussed identity exploration and individual freedom.

Method: Using a semi-structured interview format, 12 Australian women (mean age 20.5 years; mean baby age 6.5 months) were interviewed, and verbatim transcriptions analysed with thematic analysis. Results: Two broad themes identified were Change within the self and Involvement of others. Some of the early 20s women reported more difficulties with identity adjustment compared to that of teen women, and this appeared primarily related to women’s background and circumstance. Social support was important for all women, while experiences of stigma were common and negatively impacted on women’s adjustment to motherhood.

Conclusions: The extent to which first-time mothers in their early 20s experience conflict between responsibilities of motherhood and self-focussed identity exploration appeared to be largely dependent on background and prior circumstances, suggesting that emerging adulthood norms do not consistently apply to these women.
Keyword Motherhood
Teenage mothers
Emerging adulthood
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Psychology Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 2 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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