The Link Between Couples' Pregnancy Intentions And Behavior: Does It Matter Who Is Asked?
CONTEXT: Previous studies have linked pregnancy intentions with some pregnancy-related behaviors and infant health outcomes. However, most have used only women's reports of intentions and examined only maternal behaviors.
METHODS: Baseline data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (1998–2000) are used to examine whether parents of newborns considered abortion upon learning of the pregnancy and whether this measure of pregnancy intention is associated with their behaviors during pregnancy or with infant birth weight. Associations between outcomes and each parent's pregnancy intention are explored with multivariate probit regressions or least squares regressions for 737 married and 2,366 unmarried couples.
RESULTS: If at least one parent considered abortion, unmarried mothers had a significantly reduced probability of initiating early prenatal care, and unmarried fathers had a significantly reduced probability of providing cash or in-kind support during the pregnancy. The proportion of mothers receiving care in the first trimester was 12 percentage points lower when the mother only or both parents considered abortion than when neither parent did; depending on which parent reported on fathers' support during pregnancy, the proportion of fathers who provided cash or in-kind assistance was 6–10 percentage points lower when the father only considered abortion and 6–14 points lower when both parents considered abortion than when neither did.
CONCLUSIONS: Future research on pregnancy intentions should incorporate both men and women. Understanding men's pregnancy intentions and their associations with early support of mothers may inform discussions of how to encourage men's involvement in family planning, prenatal health care and parenting.
Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2008, 40(4):194–201