"I'm a Mom too!" - Stigma, Support & Contested Identities among Adolescent Mothers in the United States Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/cf95jf22c

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  • This dissertation aims to provide a comprehensive portrayal of doula care in the lives of pregnant and parenting adolescent mothers. The purpose of this research was to examine the relationships between psychosocial stress, social support, institutionalized constraints, and their impacts on health and well-being among adolescent mothers in the Northwestern United States. Guided by a biocultural approach and mixed methods design, this study involved five primary research activities and sources of data: 1) long-term, extensive participant-observation in teen parent and doula communities; 2) semi-structured, open-ended interviews with two comparative cohorts--doula-supported adolescent mothers (n=24) and non-doula supported adolescent mothers (n=18); 3) semi-structured, open-ended interviews with doulas that provide care to young mothers (n=15); 4) descriptive analyses of maternal-infant health outcomes from a national sample of doula-supported adolescent women (n=1892); and 5) content analysis of published literature on doula professional standards, core competencies, scopes of practice, and care philosophies. Through a series of manuscripts, I examine doulas from four perspectives, that of: young mothers, doulas, outcomes-based health data, and textual representations of doula models of care. In using a multiple vantage point approach, I am able to situate understandings of doula care within the larger social contexts and structural forces that frame the experiences of young mothers and the integration of doulas into maternity reform strategies. In doing so, I explore how psychosocial stress, social support, and institutionalized constraints pattern the negotiations, aspirations, and outcomes of young women during their emergence into motherhood. By focusing on the synergy between micro- and macro-level elements, I demonstrate the potential for doula care, as a targeted form of social support, to advance health equity and longterm social well-being for young mothers and their families.
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