Moving beyond unintended pregnancy: A national study of prospective pregnancy desires and acceptability
Awarded 2016
Large Research Grants
Anu Gomez, PhD
University of California, Berkeley

There is longstanding recognition of the limitations of current approaches to conceptualizing and measuring pregnancy intentions. Foundationally, the concept of planning a pregnancy may not be relevant to many women, including women of color, poor women, and young women – the groups considered at greatest risk of unintended pregnancy. Our qualitative research has revealed that a significant proportion of young women who do not desire pregnancy currently or in the next year would find a pregnancy acceptable in that timeframe. These results indicate solely focusing on pregnancy wantedness and timing may neglect women’s expectations about how a pregnancy would impact their lives. Together, the concepts of pregnancy desire and acceptability foreground nuance and complexity overlooked in current pregnancy intention measurement approaches. This study aims to advance the measurement of unintended pregnancy by using a nationally representative survey to investigate prospective pregnancy desires and acceptability. Specifically, we will: (1) establish the national prevalence of pregnancy desire, pregnancy acceptability, and the intersection of the two constructs; a) estimate the prevalence of pregnancy desires and acceptability for Black, Latina and White women; and b) investigate the role of structural factors in explaining racial and ethnic differences in pregnancy desires and acceptability. The poor measurement of unintended pregnancy undermines our field’s ability to support individuals, particularly women of color, in achieving their reproductive goals. These new prospective measures offer the opportunity to portray pregnancy intentions more holistically and will be meaningful for both clinical and policy purposes.