Background: The classification scheme used by the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) is a well-established system for defining the intendedness of pregnancy, but its clinical relevance is uncertain. The purpose of this study was to explore how women conceptualize the intention status of their pregnancies and how their concepts relate to the classification scheme used by the NSFG. Methods: This qualitative study used in-depth, semistructured, open-ended interviews with 27 pregnant women seeking prenatal care or abortion. Sampling was based on ethnicity (Caucasian or Hispanic), education, religiosity, and NSFG intention status (intended, mistimed, or unwanted). Results: Five qualitative dimensions of pregnancy intendedness emerged: preconception desire for pregnancy, steps taken to prepare for pregnancy, fertility behavior and expectations, postconception desire for pregnancy, and adaptation to pregnancy and baby. The relationship of these qualitative dimensions to the NSFG categories was varied and complex, particularly for the NSFG mistimed category. Women indicated that their partners had a strong influence on preconception and postconception desire for pregnancy. Conclusion: Further research is needed to develop measures of pregnancy intendedness that accurately reflect the needs and priorities of women. Research that addresses male perspectives and influence is of particular importance.
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