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Was this a planned pregnancy? Or was it a surprise?

Today my interesting piece of info comes via the National Health Statistics Reports about intended and unintended pregnancies in the United States. The report was released last week, showing “trends since 1982 in whether a woman wanted to get pregnant just before the pregnancy occurred.” A more obvious title would be: “did you really mean for this to happen?”

The report is much more detailed than the below graphs, and I put the link below in case you want to read the entire report.

Here are some of the highlights:

First: Did the woman intend to get pregnant? Did it matter if she was married or living with her partner?

Pretty clear. The younger age group has more unintended pregnancies. Only 23% of all these pregnancies were intended! We need to do better than this. Also, not surprisingly, if a woman was married or living with their partner, pregnancies were more planned than if the woman was not married and not cohabitating.

Second: Did wanting or not wanting the pregnancy affect the pregnancy?

I always ask at the first prenatal visit if the pregnancy was planned (intended) or “a surprise” (unintended). Surprise is a better description than “accident” or (even worse) “a mistake”. The more a pregnancy was intended and anticipated, the happier the woman is at time of conception. The less the pregnancy is intended, the unhappier the woman is with the news of pregnancy.  It doesn’t just end there – as you can see, women with unintended pregnancies were less likely to have early prenatal care, more likely to smoke cigarettes during the pregnancy, not to breastfeed, and also to have low birthweight babies. Each of these above it a blog entry in and of itself. Overall it seems that women with intended pregnancies did better in taking care of themselves and their pregnancy.

Last but not least: If you don’t want to get pregnant, please give me a good reason you aren’t using some form of birth control!!!!!

“Did not think you could get pregnant” is the winner. I need to pick some of these womens’ brains. If you are a woman of reproductive age, you can get pregnant!!!! We need to do better with sex education if 36% of women with unwanted / unintended pregnancies just didn’t think / know they could get pregnant.
Our third place excuse: “did not expect to have sex” – I would like to direct you to my post about Plan B. If you did not expect to have sex but then you do, please please please take Plan B if you don’t want to get pregnant!

We can do better than this. Increase sex education and pregnancy awareness, improve access to care – this study shows we have a lot of work to do! I like to think even you reading this blog right now is helping with that education and awareness … so thanks 🙂


National Health Statistics Report:

It’s Number 55  – published July 24, 2012


Jul 30, 2012

Original post published: 

* Content reviewed annually for accuracy 

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