“It’s Not Something You Have to Be Scared About”: Attitudes towards Pregnancy and Fertility among Canadian Aboriginal Young People

Karen M. Devries, Caroline J. Free

Abstract


Using data from a qualitative study on sexual health and condom use among Aboriginal young people in British Columbia, we explore young people’s views on pregnancy, fertility, and how these relate to sexually transmitted infection (STI) vulnerability. During 2004–2005, in-depth individual interviews were conducted with 15 young men and 15 young women who self-identified as Aboriginal. A descriptive thematic analysis is presented here. Aboriginal young people reported that there was some stigma attached to adolescent childbearing in their communities, but also acceptance and some positive norms around adolescent pregnancy. Most young people wanted to delay pregnancy until they were ready; for some, a serious relationship was an acceptable context for pregnancy. In this context, young people’s ambivalence toward pregnancy and concerns about hormonal contraception created a situation where unprotected sex was likely to occur. Families of origin played an important but complex role in shaping behaviour. Interventions that focus solely on condom use are unlikely to reduce rates of STIs among Aboriginal young people, especially those who are ambivalent about pregnancy. Efforts must focus on contextual elements that shape desire for pregnancy to maximize success.

Keywords


Aboriginal, fertility, adolescent pregnancy, condom, STI

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Aboriginal Health Research Networks Secretariat
Centre for Aboriginal Health
University of Victoria
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada