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Keywords:

  • pregnancy;
  • unintended;
  • unwanted;
  • happiness;
  • contraception

Abstract

Objective: To assess middle-aged Australian women's retrospective reports of how intended and wanted were their pregnancies, and the degree of happiness associated with these pregnancies.

Methods: A self-administered questionnaire was sent to 1000 participants in the Mid-Age cohort of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health.

Results: Responses from 811 women (81%) showed that, although 32% of first pregnancies were unplanned and 29% were unwanted, most women recall being happy with their pregnancies and termination rates were very low. The second pregnancy was the most planned and wanted and associated with the highest levels of happiness.

Conclusions: While the majority of middle-aged women report having been happy to be pregnant, and the majority of pregnancies are described retrospectively as planned and wanted, a significant proportion of pregnancies are unwanted, unplanned or resulting from unintended contraceptive failure.

Implications: The data support the continuing need for widely available, affordable and sensitive fertility control services.