Faculty Publications


Across the fertility lifespan: Desire for pregnancy at conception

Document Type



Pregnancy, Pregnancy intention, Unintended pregnancy, Unplanned pregnancy

Journal/Book/Conference Title

MCN The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing






Purpose: To illustrate trends in unintended pregnancy over a 5-year period and to describe variations in desire for pregnancy at conception in relation to maternal age, race/ethnicity, income, and education. Study Design and Methods: Data were collected as part of the Iowa Barriers to Prenatal Care Project, a large, multiyear study of new mothers. A brief questionnaire eliciting maternal experiences and behaviors during pregnancy was administered to new mothers in all Iowa hospitals providing maternity care following the birth of their baby. Sample sizes ranged from 16,714 to 19,421 over the 5 years included in this analysis (1997 to 2001), and response rates ranged from 44% to 53%. Results: The study sample closely matched the overall statewide profile of women in this age group. In each of the 5 years, about one third of the mothers giving birth indicated that they did not intend to become pregnant at that time, and another 4% to 5% indicated that they did not want to be pregnant at that time or in the future. There were no substantive variations across years. Maternal age, race/ethnicity, income, and education were significantly related to intendedness of pregnancy. Clinical Implications: The findings underscore the continuing challenge of unintended pregnancy, despite recent national attention to this issue. All women of childbearing age should be considered at risk for unintended pregnancy. Additional work is needed to examine reasons, attitudes, and behaviors associated with unintended pregnancies and to determine the relative predictive strength of key demographic variables to improve interventions aimed at decreasing unintended pregnancy rates.

Original Publication Date


DOI of published version