Original Research

Young women’s social support networks during pregnancy in Soweto, South Africa

Khuthala Mabetha, Larske M. Soepnel, Sonja Klingberg, Gugulethu Mabena, Molebogeng Motlhatlhedi, Shane A Norris, Catherine E. Draper
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 16, No 1 | a4146 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v16i1.4146 | © 2024 Khuthala Mabetha, Larske M. Soepnel, Sonja Klingberg, Gugulethu Mabena, Molebogeng Motlhatlhedi, Shane A. Norris, Catherine E. Draper | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 May 2023 | Published: 29 April 2024

About the author(s)

Khuthala Mabetha, SAMRC/Wits Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit, Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Clinical Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Larske M. Soepnel, SAMRC/Wits Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit, Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Clinical Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; and Julius Global Health, Julius Centre for Health Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University Medical Centre, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Sonja Klingberg, SAMRC/Wits Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit, Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Clinical Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Gugulethu Mabena, SAMRC/Wits Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit, Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Clinical Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Molebogeng Motlhatlhedi, SAMRC/Wits Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit, Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Clinical Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Shane A Norris, SAMRC/Wits Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit, Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Clinical Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; and School of Human Development and Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom
Catherine E. Draper, SAMRC/Wits Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit, Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Clinical Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Although studies from high-income countries have examined social support during pregnancy, it remains unclear what type of support is received by expectant mothers from low- and middle-income country settings.

Aim: To explore young women’s social support networks during pregnancy in Soweto, South Africa.

Setting: This study was undertaken in an academic hospital based in the Southwestern Townships (Soweto), Johannesburg, in Gauteng province, South Africa.

Methods: An exploratory descriptive qualitative approach was employed. Eighteen (18) young pregnant women were recruited using a purposive sampling approach. In-depth interviews were conducted, and data were analysed using inductive thematic analysis.

Results: Analysis of the data resulted in the development of two superordinate themes namely; (1) relationships during pregnancy and (2) network involvement. Involvement of the various social networks contributed greatly to the young women having a greater sense of potential parental efficacy and increased acceptance of their pregnancies. Pregnant women who receive sufficient social support from immediate networks have increased potential to embrace and give attention to pregnancy-related changes.

Conclusion: Focusing on less-examined characteristics that could enhance pregnant women’s health could help in the reduction of deaths that arise because of pregnancy complications and contribute in globally accelerating increased accessibility to adequate reproductive health.

Contribution: This study’s findings emphasise the necessity for policymakers and healthcare providers to educate the broader community about the importance of partner, family and peer support to minimise risks that may affect pregnancy care and wellbeing of mothers.


Keywords

social support; pregnancy care; wellbeing; maternal health; Soweto; South Africa.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being

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