On-line version ISSN 0379-8577
Adolescent pregnancies are high risk obstetric occurrences. Antenatal care (ANC) provides opportunities to recognise and treat obstetric complications, enhancing the pregnancy outcomes for mothers and babies. The purpose of the study was to identify factors influencing adolescents ' non-utilisation of ANC services in Bulawayo. The Health Belief Model (HBM) was used to contextualise the study. A quantitative, non-experimental, descriptive research design was adopted, using structured interviews to collect data. Purposive, non-probability sampling was used to conduct structured interviews with 80 adolescent mothers from the postnatal wards who had delivered their babies without attending ANC. Factors influencing these adolescent mothers' non-utilisation of ANC services included socio-economic issues, individuals' perceptions about ANC, limited knowledge about ANC, policies and structural barriers. However, these adolescents knew that delivering their babies with skilled attendance could enhance the outcomes for the mothers and babies, would help secure documents to facilitate the acquisition of their children 's birth certificates, and that obstetric complications required the services of skilled midwives/doctors. Policy-related issues, such as requiring national identity cards from pregnant adolescents (or from their spouses) prohibited some of them from utilising ANC services. There is a need to improve adolescents ' reproductive health outreach (including ANC) programmes and to offer free ANC services in Zimbabwe. Restrictive policies, such as the required identity cards of the pregnant adolescents (or their husbands), impacted negatively on the accessibility of ANC services and should be addressed as a matter of urgency in Bulawayo.
Keywords : adolescent mother; antenatal care; Health Belief Model; midwifery in Zimbabwe.