How poverty shapes women's experiences of health during pregnancy: a grounded theory study

Joanne Marie Roussy
1999
The health of pregnant women is a major concern to health care providers. This grounded theory study of 40 women examined the health of pregnant women and the special threat that poverty and violence posed to their capacity for health. Pregnant women experienced their health as an integrated part of their daily lives; that is, they reported that their health was affected by 'everybody and everything." Women's main concern during pregnancy was to have a healthy newborn and, to this end, they
more » ... this end, they engaged in the process of creating a healthy pregnancy by engaging in health-enhancing behaviours. In this process, the woman focused primarily on ensuring the birth of a healthy baby. Three conditions were essential to a woman's capacity to create a healthy pregnancy: (1) the acceptance of the pregnancy, (2) adequate financial resources, and (3) supportive relationships (especially having a supportive partner). Pregnancies invariably carried with them some uncertainty, and this caused the 40 women in this study to experience a state of vulnerability which, in turn, triggered attempts to create healthy pregnancies. This led to a cycle of improving health: the more energy women had to carry out health-enhancing behaviours the better they felt physically and mentally; the more able they were to conduct their daily activities; and, consequently, the better their health. However, living within a context of poverty and/or violence increased pregnant women's vulnerability and decreased their capacity for creating a healthy pregnancy, leading to extreme stress and the experience of threat. Male violence threatened the women's ability to be connected to those who were important sources of emotional, financial, task-oriented, and knowledge-oriented support, and, thus jeopardized their ability to meet their fundamental needs. Furthermore, the lack of sufficient financial resources limited women's abilities to leave their abusive partners. In order to survive, women in these circumstances sometimes reverted to pre [...]
doi:10.14288/1.0089258 fatcat:t7fk6zdt3fb7fkzhfshttl7umm