Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 191-196

First online:

Pregnancy Intention and Pregnancy Happiness: Are They Different?

  • Marjorie R. SableAffiliated withSchool of Social Work, University of Missouri—Columbia
  • , M. Kay LibbusAffiliated withSchool of Nursing, University of Missouri—Columbia

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Objectives: This study examines the relationship among pregnancy intention and attitudes, inconsistent contraceptive use, and plans for potential pregnancy among 311 women who presented at local health departments to seek a pregnancy test and for whom a pregnancy would be unintended. Methods: Women were surveyed prior to receiving pregnancy tests. Pregnancy intention was measured using traditional classifications of mistimed and unwanted pregnancies. Frequency distributions and chi-square tests were computed to examine and compare rates of happiness about the pregnancy among women with mistimed or unwanted pregnancy and to compare rates of inconsistent contraceptive use and plans for the pregnancy by intention and level of happiness. Results: Although all of the women selected for our sample stated that their pregnancies would be unintended, almost half (46%) were inconsistent contraceptive users. Further, 48% reported that they would be somewhat or very happy about a pregnancy. The proportion of women who were uncertain about the future of a pregnancy and who considered adoption or abortion was highest among those for whom a potential pregnancy was mistimed and who were unhappy about the pregnancy. Conclusions: Differentiating between pregnancy intention and happiness has practice implications for family planning and prenatal providers. Additional research should further elaborate these distinctions.

unintended pregnancy unwanted pregnancy pregnancy attitudes family planning contraceptive use