Department (e.g. History, Chemistry, Finance, etc.)

Nursing

College (e.g. College of Engineering, College of Arts & Sciences, Haslam College of Business, etc.)

Nursing

Abstract

There has been a rapid increase in the number of unmarried couples that participate in the same family practices as their married counterparts such as having children and cohabiting in the same residence. Unmarried cohabiting mothers are at a higher risk of smoking, experiencing symptoms of depression and having more stressful pregnancies than married cohabiting mothers. These conditions place the neonates of unmarried cohabiting mothers at an increased risk for low birth weight, low Apgar scores and low gestational age. Such findings suggest that these unmarried cohabiting mothers and their neonates are not receiving the proper support required during pregnancy. Perhaps the effect of being in a legally sanctioned union such as marriage has a health promotional effect on maternal reproductive health behaviors and neonatal health factors. Failure to recognize and/or understand this effect can possibly contribute to adverse health effects. Therefore, the purpose of this presentation is to lay the foundations of a proposed project that will explore the perceptions of unmarried and married cohabiting mothers about maternal reproductive health behaviors and the effect of these perceptions upon neonatal health factors. This information will be instrumental in promoting appropriate antenatal care practices for healthy pregnancies and neonatal health factors.

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Married and Unmarried Cohabitation Impact on Maternal Reproductive Behaviors and Neonatal Health Factors

There has been a rapid increase in the number of unmarried couples that participate in the same family practices as their married counterparts such as having children and cohabiting in the same residence. Unmarried cohabiting mothers are at a higher risk of smoking, experiencing symptoms of depression and having more stressful pregnancies than married cohabiting mothers. These conditions place the neonates of unmarried cohabiting mothers at an increased risk for low birth weight, low Apgar scores and low gestational age. Such findings suggest that these unmarried cohabiting mothers and their neonates are not receiving the proper support required during pregnancy. Perhaps the effect of being in a legally sanctioned union such as marriage has a health promotional effect on maternal reproductive health behaviors and neonatal health factors. Failure to recognize and/or understand this effect can possibly contribute to adverse health effects. Therefore, the purpose of this presentation is to lay the foundations of a proposed project that will explore the perceptions of unmarried and married cohabiting mothers about maternal reproductive health behaviors and the effect of these perceptions upon neonatal health factors. This information will be instrumental in promoting appropriate antenatal care practices for healthy pregnancies and neonatal health factors.