In the attempt to gauge need for contraception or reproductive health services, researchers and clinicians often query women about pregnancy intentions, to determine if a pregnancy is wanted (or, in retrospect, was wanted or mistimed). But formative research indicates that is not necessarily how most people think about and approach pregnancy.
In order to better understand how people perceive pregnancy and getting pregnant, Assistant Professor Meredith Manze, PhD student Dana Watnick, and Associate Professor Diana Romero led a study published recently in the journal Reproductive Health.
The team interviewed 176 heterosexual women and men ages 18–35 in the U.S. Participants described notions of getting pregnant in one of three ways. One group of participants used language that solely described pregnancy as a deliberate process, either premeditated or actively avoided. Another described pregnancy as a predetermined phenomenon, due to fate or something that ‘just happens.’ The third group, which made up 53 percent of total participants, used some combination of deliberate and predetermined language as it relates to pregnancy.
“This study highlights the need to shift how we think about and measure pregnancy, from one of solely deliberate intentions to one that recognizes that pregnancy can also be viewed as predetermined,” says Manze.
The findings can be used to improve measurement, health services, and better direct public health resources, she added.