Date of Award

January 2018

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Medical Doctor (MD)



First Advisor

Aileen Gariepy


Social support during pregnancy is an important indicator for improved maternal and neonatal birth outcomes. We sought to understand Spanish-speaking Latina women’s perspectives about social support and social isolation during pregnancy. We recruited Spanish-speaking women ages 15-44 at less than 24 weeks estimated gestational age from urban walk-in pregnancy care sites in New Haven, CT, during the period from June 2014 to June 2015. We collected quantitative and qualitative data via self- administered, in-person surveys and semi-structured interviews, respectively. Interviews were conducted to explore women’s pregnancy intentions, initial reactions to new pregnancy, and feelings about the impact of this pregnancy on their lives. Content analysis was used to examine the transcripts text with the aid of Atlas.ti software. The sample included 31 Latina/Hispanic women who chose to be interviewed in Spanish. Participants averaged 28 years, with mean gestational age of 7(±2) weeks. Most were mothers already (87%), unmarried but living with a partner (51%), and reported this pregnancy as intended (68%). We identified social isolation as a central theme that was characterized by four interwoven and overlapping subthemes: (1) Sola - being alone; (2) Familismo cercano- experiencing challenges in relationships with children and partner(s); (3) Familismo lejano- maintaining relationship with other supports; and (4) Mi patria- preserving homeland cultural connectedness. Our findings suggest that social isolation among Spanish-speaking pregnant women may reflect loss of social support. Language preference may serve as a marker for Limited English Proficiency and the acculturation process, and may suggest the need for greater provider awareness and community support following confirmation of a new pregnancy diagnosis.


This is an Open Access Thesis.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access