Path to an Unintended Pregnancy: A Couple's Perspective

Wednesday, 24 July 2013: 3:30 PM

Ainat Koren, RN, PhD1
Dorothy Brewin, CNM, PhD2
Betty Morgan, PMHCNS-BC2
(1)Department of Nursing, University of Massachusetts, Lowell, Lowell, MA
(2)Nursing, University of Massachusetts, Lowell, Lowell, MA

Learning Objective 1: (2) To discuss the dynamics of communication and decision-making between couples that may lead to an unintended pregnancy.

Learning Objective 2: (3) To list the different ways that individuals within couples might relate to the meaning of an unintended pregnancy.

Purpose: Data based on reports of reproductive intentions from both partners have been shown to
lead to improved predictions about family planning behavior than have data from only one partner.
This research focuses on understanding the complex socio-cultural factors and decision-making
dynamics among young couples that may lead to an unintended pregnancy.

Methods: Utilizing a qualitative
phenomenological research method, a purposive sample of 15 ethnically diverse couples between the ages of
18-30, who had had an unintended pregnancy, was recruited for in-depth interviews.

Results: Initial reaction to an unintended pregnancy was frequently different for the woman as compared to her
partner, with surprise, fear, denial, confusion and ambivalence being commonly described. Other factors that
influenced couple decision-making around the unintended pregnancy were both positive and negative past
family history, the hidden desire for a baby, contraceptive behavior, communication styles, relationship length,
family and community support, religiosity and fear or history of infertility. Substance use, moments of passion
and “allowing the chance” often were involved in lack of contraceptive utilization.

Conclusion: The findings from this study supports integration of couple counseling into family planning services
to enhance the couple's ability to manage their reproductive health by improving couple communication about
family intendedness and birth control use.