CONTEXT: Women’s retrospective reports of their feelings about a pregnancy and of its intendedness are often inconsistent, particularly among Latinas. Interpretation of this incongruence as ambivalence overlooks the possibility that happiness about the prospect of pregnancy and desire to prevent pregnancy need not be mutually exclusive.
METHODS: Data from the 2006–2008 Border Contraceptive Access Study—a prospective study of 956 Latina oral contraceptive users aged 18–44 in El Paso, Texas—were used to compare women’s planned pill use and childbearing intentions with their feelings about a possible pregnancy. Associations between women’s feelings and their percep- tions of their partner’s feelings were examined using logistic regression. Prospective and retrospective intentions and feelings were compared among women who became pregnant during the study.
RESULTS: Forty-one percent of women who planned to use the pill for at least another year and 34% of those who wanted no more children said they would feel very or somewhat happy about becoming pregnant in the next three months. Perceiving that a male partner would feel very upset about a pregnancy was negatively associated with happiness about the pregnancy among both women who planned to continue pill use and those who wanted no more children (coefficients, –4.4 and –3.9, respectively). Of the 36 women who became pregnant during the study, 24 reported feeling very happy about the pregnancy in retrospect, while only 14 had prospectively reported feeling happy about a possible pregnancy.
CONCLUSION: Intentions and happiness appear to be distinct concepts for this sample of Latina women.
Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2013, 45(4):196–203, doi: 10.1363/4519613
Abigail R. A. Aiken is a doctoral student in public policy, and Joseph E. Potter is professor of sociology—both with the Population Research Center, University of Texas at Austin.