Advancing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights
Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health
Volume 44, Number 4, December 2012

Pregnancy Desire Among a Sample of Young Couples Who Are Expecting a Baby

By Heather Sipsma, Anna A. Divney, Linda M. Niccolai, Derrick Gordon, Urania Magriples and Trace S. Kershaw

CONTEXT: Adolescents’ desire for a pregnancy has been explored more among females than among males. A more comprehensive understanding of teenagers’ pregnancy desires is needed to inform pregnancy prevention efforts and to support couples as they undergo the transition to parenthood.

METHODS: In an observational cohort study conducted in 2007–2011 at clinics in Connecticut, data were collected from 296 couples (females aged 14–21 and their partners) who were expecting a baby. The degree to which each partner had wanted the pregnancy and partners’ perceptions of each other's pregnancy desires were assessed. Multilevel regression models examined associations between pregnancy desire and individual, partner, family and community characteristics, and between desire and life and relationship satisfaction.

RESULTS: Forty-nine percent of females and 53% of males reported having wanted the pregnancy. Pregnancy desire scores were positively associated with being male, expecting a first baby, perceived partner desire and parental response to the pregnancy; scores were negatively associated with being in school, being employed and parental support. Females’ perceptions of their partners’ pregnancy desires were slightly more accurate than males’ (kappas, 0.36 and 0.28, respectively). Pregnancy desire was positively associated with both life and relationship satisfaction, particularly among males.

CONCLUSIONS: Adolescents’ pregnancy desires require further attention as a possible focus of pregnancy prevention efforts, and health care providers may want to ensure that young couples with unwanted pregnancies are offered additional psychological and social services as they transition to parenthood.

DOI: 10.1363/4424412




Heather Sipsma was associate research scientist at the time this article was written, and Linda M. Niccolai and Trace S. Kershaw are associate professors of epidemiology—all at Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT. Anna A. Divney is a doctoral candidate at the City University of New York School of Public Health. Derrick Gordon is assistant professor and assistant clinical professor of psychiatry, and Urania Magriples is associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences, and codirector of maternalfetal medicine clinical practice—both at Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT.