, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 109-118

Pregnancy Discovery and Acceptance Among Low-Income Primiparous Women: A Multicultural Exploration

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Abstract

Objectives: As part of a larger study exploring psychosocial factors that influence self-care and use of health care services during pregnancy, we investigated the process of pregnancy discovery and acceptance among a culturally diverse group of women who had given birth to their first child in the year preceding data collection. Methods: Eighty-seven low-income women from four cultural groups (African American, Mexican, Puerto Rican, and white) participated in eight focus groups held in their communities. The focus groups were ethnically homogenous and stratified by early and late entry into prenatal care. A social influence model guided the development of focus group questions, and the study followed a participatory action research model, with community members involved in all phases of the research. Results: Issues that emerged from the focus groups as possible influences on timing of pregnancy recognition include the role of pregnancy signs and symptoms and pregnancy risk perception in the discovery process, the role of social network members in labeling and affirming the pregnancy, concerns about disclosure, “planning” status of the pregnancy, and perceived availability of choices for resolving an unintended pregnancy. Conclusions: The pregnancy discovery process is complex, and when protracted, can potentially result in delayed initiation of both prenatal care and healthful pregnancy behaviors. Enhancing our understanding of pregnancy discovery and acceptance has clear implications for primary and secondary prevention. Future research is needed to further explain the trajectory of pregnancy discovery and acceptance and its influence on health behaviors and pregnancy outcome.