Cathy Schechter & Susan Poag Co-Principals. SUMA/ORCHARD SOCIAL MARKETING, INC. Research with Latinas. 6 Focus Groups with Hispanic women Ages 18-27 Born in U.S. and/or immigrated at <5 years old 4 Preconception/2 Interconception Woodburn/Salem, Eugene, Medford and surrounding areas
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Cathy Schechter & Susan Poag
I chose this family picture because they’re all different ages. My family’s bigger, but we’re always together, and not so cheesy like, “Thumbs up happy.” But when everybody’s together, we’re happy. Then I chose this for myself because it just kind of reminds me of goals that I have and things I want to do for myself. So it kind of keeps me motivated to do that.
Like, our family comes from Mexico. When I go to Mexico everybody’s happy and they have nothing close compared to what we have. And we’re like, “I gotta get this, I gotta get that,” and a lot of people are like, “I got to go to college because I’ve got to make money.”It’s like the material things make the person. In Mexico everybody’s with joy and happiness. I want to live over here, but I don’t know about the lifestyle.
I think that issue of changes and bringing up pregnancy, or even just talking about that is just like, forbidden. It’s just like we don’t talk about that. And especially sex. [Agreement] That’s a no.My mom was like, “… you can’t go swimming and you can’t have sex because you’ll get pregnant! And even if they touch your boobs!” If I talked to her about tampons, she’d be mad because she thought I was having sex.
They want to be able to use a tampon and not feel guilty about it…if a girl, another Latina, sees them and tells their mom, “You know Julie uses a tampon,” you’re worried the word’s going to get out. “Oh her daughter’s not a virgin, I heard she uses tampons.” That’s a huge issue for these young women.
As a minor we always had OHP through my mom. Whenever I needed to go to the clinic, that was always taken care of. But now I’m kind of on my own. I don’t have no insurance, nothing, so I don’t really go unless it’s crucial, something really important.I need to get insurance soon. I turn 26 in two weeks and so I’m getting kicked off my parents’ insurance and my current job doesn’t provide it for me, so I’m looking for work that will give me that.
Without family role models or explanation, appropriate health education at school or a health care provider, many young women do not understand the reproductive process, birth control options and the components/reason behind well-woman check-ups (e.g., PAP smears)
Like you hear all this stuff on TV, this is new. Or get your yearly exam. Or like the HPV. You just hear different things. Then you go to the doctor, it’s like, “Oh you’re fine. Do you want me to check you for Chlamydia.” I was in my head thinking, “That’s what they were going to check for, they already checked for that stuff, like that’s what they gave me a PAP for.” But they asked me do you want to get checked for this, but I’m thinking what the heck is the test for? I thought I was getting checked for everything that’s out there…I don’t know what’s out there.
If you don’t have insurance they won’t see you.They talk medical language, like what is that? I don’t even know. Can you please just talk to me in English? But that’s what they do sometimes.
I think it’s just that they don’t know the culture. They can’t relate to it….It’s like if you don’t have friends or family or whatever, someone that’s close to them to understand exactly what kind of people we are, what kind of customs we carry and the kinds of diets we carry and all those remedies our grandmas talk about. So to me it’s like there’s no way you can relate even if you were to take a Spanish class, sorry.
Respondent 1: There are a couple of friends and family members I know that went to the doctor. Something was wrong with them, and she said they couldn’t find a solution. They go to Mexico and get treated over there. They come back and they’re perfect.Respondent 2: Yeah, that’s what my mom said. She’s like, “They just want to use your insurance money here.
Respondent 1: My mom, when I was younger, she thought the devil was inside of me because I wouldn’t listen to her, so in December we went to Mexico for our vacation and she decided to take me. So they laid me down on a bed and this guy started shaking leaves. (Laughter)Respondent 2: Time out! I opened the garage door once and I thought my grandma was beating my brother with rosemary. I thought he was busted (overlapping laughter), I was like six.Respondent 1: And then they put a candle on my belly button and I guess the devil came out of me. (Laughter)
Respondent 1: My boyfriend is like, “Are you wearing red?” I’m like, “Yes I am!” (laughter) But I don’t freak out about it.
Respondent 2: But I wonder if it’s true!
Respondent 1: No, I actually don’t think it’s true.
Respondent 3: I think it’s true. Because when my boyfriend’s mom was pregnant she actually did wear something red, and a lady that was also pregnant didn’t, and her baby came out with defects.
The forty days after they have the baby, you can’t do anything. You have to have someone cook for you, do all the chores for you. You can’t go outside.
Every time my mom sees somebody that already they’re in their quarentena, “Oh my god, I can’t believe she’s out! What is she doing?” Like seriously, you know. And I’m like, “She looks fine to me. But okay.”
Well, there is this thing called quarentena, which is like 40 days. After I delivered even my mom was wrapping me up in all these clothes, “In Mexico, you can’t even take a shower for 40 days.”…then she’s like going upstairs she made me walk backwards…you have to wear a sweater when you go out…cover your head.
I think a lot of the stress is cultural here versus there, because there people are more accepting. People want to be more nurturing and caring for mothers, whereas here a mom has all these stresses. She has to worry about people accepting her. Maybe she’s younger, so it’s like oh my god, all these people are looking at me like this, and that’s because I’m young and I gotta get a job, and what’s going to happen with my family, if your family is here. You have more of those stresses as opposed to in Mexico where it’s a little more accepting and people want to take care of you.
I think it’s probably worse because here you’re pregnant, you’re like, “Oh, I have to work and work and work, because buying this for the baby and buying a house and we’re paying the car and in Mexico, you’re pregnant, you’re like, you stay home and clean.
I think nutrition has a lot to do with it, too. Because I know that if you’re over there with your family, the way that you’re raised and stuff, the mom that is about to give birth needs to be taken care of. She needs to be eating right. And you have people around you. Your abuelas, your tÌas, whatever you want. People that raised you that are making sure you’re eating right.Down there the foods are a lot more natural. What you eat and drink is more natural. They don’t put chemicals down there like they do here.
I think birth defects also, because people are either drinking or drugs, and they’re not thinking they’re going to get pregnant, and it passes on to their babies.
Not being physically ready. Or even mentally. Like say you are 19 and it was about partying. You smoke weed now and then. You weren’t thinking about being a mom yet. You were just doing your own thing. Then you find out you’re pregnant. It’s like, ‘Okay, now I have to step it up. I need to find a good job. I need to find a place to live.’ You need to get mentally quick.
I think it’s good that it has phone numbers and web sites on here that you can actually go and look up information if you want more.I like how it says, “The better you feel, the better you look.”It gives you the solutions, too, if you want to take it. I love this, “Life is full of ups and downs, but good news, when you’re down there’s no place to go but up.”
Anytime I do read something about health, it always makes me feel better when it says there’s “no normal.” Because mine are always three days late, but if you ask me that’s my normal, and it just always makes me feel not weird when I read this. I’m a chart person, so I love the vitamin chart, like what it is, the benefits, the source.It makes it simple and easy to understand, and it’s comfortable to read.
It speaks to truth. Like some ladies have one baby right after another. You need to wait. You need to give yourself time to rest.
Very important. It has questions in here that I would think about, that I would be asking, that I’ve thought about.
I like the breastfeeding part because I always wondered, because I’m not getting my period, can I still get pregnant?
I like this part, where it says a mother that gets pregnant within six months of having a baby is 40% more likely to have a premature baby. I didn’t know that.
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If she’s young and hasn’t had any babies yet… we’re talking [ages] 18-27 and no children…we don’t do a home visit to them because they don’t need our services, yet. So I think that’s the generation that has fallen through the cracks in our communities because we just see them wandering around.
We had … a program, a curriculum that goes into the schools, and they also come to our complex. It was beautiful talking to the young women, and I was like, “Wait a minute. We’re missing a whole piece right here. We need to talk to the parents” … Because these girls are going to have a lot of questions when they go home. Who is going to answer those questions? They’re going to be in limbo again, like I was when I was twelve years old.
I’m 42, and my children are grown. But it was hard for me to talk to my daughter, and I’m educated. What do you think is going to happen to the rest of the community?(From Provider who organized a local program with a nurse practitioner to explain tampons so girls would go to school/swim class during menstruation) Moms had the cultural piece, that that is just not talked about. They didn’t use tampons because of the virginity issue…the moms wanted to know, is this safe for them. Can they touch themselves down there to put this thing in? What’s going to happen to them?
(On lack of FPEP for undocumented residents)
We try to get them in touch with other resources, but it does get challenging. It gets overwhelming; it’s overwhelming even when you know the system.
For our Hispanic women they have no health insurance not even if they are pregnant, no labs, no post partum, no ultrasounds, they pay on a sliding scale. It is a huge issue.
Most providers mentioned teen pregnancy as a primary concern for the population.
We are seeing more and more 13-14-15 year olds pregnant.
We take them on prenatally. So I work with these very young girls and they say, “If I would have known. If I had known where to go for birth control. I did not know because my mom doesn’t use any.”
They expect that their kids will start relationships as teenagers, and they don’t have that same message about deferring activity and pregnancy.
My big concern is the age, getting these 14 and 15 year old girls showing up pregnant. In that culture, it’s okay that they’re pregnant at that age…the mother was pregnant at that age.
In the Latina community there is way more support; it is almost expected that you are going to have babies young whether you have your ducks in a row or not.
If they’re undocumented… they may opt for pregnancy, a choice by default, because they have limited choices. They graduate from high school, but have no choices because they’re illegal… they can’t get loans, can’t get insurance, can’t get jobs.
Our culture in Mexico is very poor. We go to the doctor only for emergencies, or when you’re dying. You never go to the doctor because you need to get a physical exam…We had children in our culture that immigrated or were born here. We’re changing. We now have to take the children to get a physical exam, we have to take the little girl because she’s having a menstrual period and cramps. The problem I see is a gap in between the teenaged phase to the pre- or interconception phase. That’s where I see the big old gap, and it’s not the provider’s fault. I think it’s cultural. Not only in our Latino community. It’s a gap somewhere right here. I mean there’s nothing.
**Most young Hispanic women, even college students, live at home until they marry. While the strong family can be a strength when childbearing, it can also be a barrier to reproductive planning.They do a lot behind their parents’ back at the mall…They’re seeing their boyfriends, or doing things outside of work. They cannot bring the boyfriend to the house or they better marry. Because they can’t have this one dating, and break up with him, and bring another one.
They think generally they want to lose weight, but oftentimes have not put it together with being better for the baby. Latinas are often very motivated to do what is best for the baby and will try harder.
If they are obese I encourage them to lose weight, and let them know it’s harder with each pregnancy.
More and more are obese because of fast food; it’s cheaper.
Drown it in salsa, just don’t cook it in lard! People need nutrition education on a budget.
Once they become ‘more Anglo’ they start losing some of those qualities they had in the more traditional society. In Mexico they walk all the time, here they drive. They don’t exercise there is more obesity. They eat processed foods their health goes down.
Don’t see many 1.5’s smoking. They’re fairly forthright, we do universal drug screening. It there is marijuana, they talk about it. Haven’t seen a lot of addiction in that group.
They are not big smokers, drugs, although they are more likely than the immigrants to maybe have alcohol vs. Caucasian girls who at 17 are smoking, drinking, smoking marijuana, you don’t see that with girls of immigrants.
Some of the partners seem to drink heavily, be into drugs. I wonder how they’re treated, what they’re future is going to be in this relationship.
I am most concerned about their relationships. Fathers are often gone by 7 month into the pregnancy or they are no longer in a safe relationship. So they don’t have proof of citizenship and are no longer in a relationship. Families take care of them.
Men will not use condoms or get vasectomy
All clinics are becoming more and more dependent on MAs, and they have legal status or come up with papers, they’re integrating.The majority of our medical assistants are first or second generation Latinas.They (referring to local clinic) have bilingual bicultural staff, and the girls who are interns take stuff to their friends. The girls are curious and interested. More could be done.