Orientations to motherhood and male partner support among women in Mexico and Mexican-origin women in the United States

Soc Sci Med. 2001 Jun;52(12):1805-13. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(00)00296-3.


Previous studies suggest that favorable pregnancy outcomes among Mexican immigrant women in the United States may be attributed to a protective sociocultural orientation, but few have explored the attitudes and values that shape Mexican women's perceptions of motherhood. This exploratory study examines orientation towards motherhood among Mexican and Mexican-origin women living in Mexico and the United States and their perceptions of their male partners' attitudes and roles. Focus groups were conducted with 60 pregnant low-income women in rural and urban communities in Mexico with high rates of migration to the US, among immigrant communities in rural and urban California and with US-born women of Mexican descent (Mexican Americans) in urban California. Notable differences were observed between women in Mexico and the US and between immigrant and Mexican American women in California as more women articulated life plans. Life plans seemed to reflect both processes of individuation and changing gender roles. While participants in Mexico largely abided by the conventional discourse on motherhood and domesticity, immigrants in California alternated between this ethos and the discourse of working mother, depending on financial resources. In contrast, Mexican American participants assumed multiple roles. These differing orientations may be linked to other factors, including fertility control, the amount and type of partner support, and stress during pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health / ethnology*
  • California
  • Emigration and Immigration
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Gender Identity*
  • Goals
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mexican Americans / psychology*
  • Mexico / ethnology
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Parenting / ethnology*
  • Poverty
  • Pregnancy / psychology
  • Sexual Partners / psychology
  • Social Support
  • Social Values*