OBJECTIVE: To explore the lived experiences and social context prior to becoming pregnant, of women who became mothers during adolescence in rural Victoria. DESIGN: Qualitative interpretive phenomenological study using semistructured interviews. SETTING: Rural community in North East Victoria, Australia. PARTICIPANTS: Four rural women who gave birth to a child between the ages of 15 and 19. RESULTS: Five themes emerged from the data as being essential to the participants' experiences prior to pregnancy. These included feeling isolated; life change: transition into adulthood; support and understanding in sexual relationships; feeling dissatisfied; and overcoming adversity. Participants' provided practical recommendations to improve life for young people in rural areas through reflecting on their own experiences. CONCLUSION: These findings highlight the complex nature of rural young women's experiences leading up to pregnancy and suggest that early motherhood might be largely reflective of the social environment in which one lives prior to pregnancy. Providing somewhere safe to go, organised and appropriate social activities and increasing access to health services were identified as being pertinent to improving experiences for rural young people prior to pregnancy. Health professionals should consider the importance of supporting young women through non-judgemental, approachable and accessible services.