Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 155-165

First online:

Pregnancy Intentions, Pregnancy Attitudes, and the Use of Prenatal Care in Missouri

  • Marjorie R. SableAffiliated withSchool of Social Work, University of Missouri– Email author 
  • , Deborah Schild WilkinsonAffiliated withSchool of Social Welfare, University of Kansas

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Objectives: This study uses data from 2378 mothers of live-born infants from the NICHD/Missouri Maternal and Infant Health Survey to examine the relationship between pregnancy intention and adequacy of prenatal care. Methods: Pregnancy intention was measured using traditional classifications of mistimed and unwanted pregnancies as well as additional measures of women's attitudes about their pregnancies. Odds ratios for inadequate prenatal care and its component parts (initiation of care and receipt of services) were calculated using multiple logistic regression in separate models and in a combined model for the measures of intention and attitude. Results: Women's attitudes about their pregnancies were associated with inadequate prenatal care, including both inadequate initiation of care and inadequate receipt of services. Traditional measures of intendedness were significantly related only to inadequate initiation of care. Women who were unhappy about the pregnancy (OR = 1.44), unsure that they wanted to be pregnant (OR = 2.81), or denied their pregnancies (OR = 4.82) were more likely to have inadequate prenatal care than women who did not have these attitudes. Women who were unhappy about being pregnant (OR = 1.86), unsure that they wanted to be pregnant (OR = 3.44), or who denied the pregnancy (OR = 6.69) were more likely to have inadequate initiation of care. Women who were unsure that they wanted to be pregnant (OR = 1.95) or who denied their pregnancies (OR = 2.47) were more likely to have received inadequate care once they had entered care. Conclusions: This study suggests that attitudes about pregnancy may be a psychosocial barrier to women obtaining early and continuous prenatal care. Pregnancy attitudes should be assessed and appropriate services provided to improve women's utilization of prenatal care. New measures of pregnancy attitude, beyond the traditional intention measures, can be useful in assessing pregnancy wantedness and identifying women to target for these services.

Prenatal care unwanted pregnancy wantedness unintended pregnancy family planning maternal behavior Missouri pregnancy intention