The Impact of an Unplanned Child: A Qualitative Study of the Consequences of Unintended Childbearing for Mothers and Fathers

Megan L. Kavanaugh, Guttmacher Institute
Kathryn Kost, Guttmacher Institute
Lori Frohwirth, Guttmacher Institute
Isaac Maddow-Zimet, Guttmacher Institute

A number of qualitative studies investigating how women experience and characterize unintended pregnancy have expanded our understanding of childbearing intentions. To our knowledge, this is the first qualitative study to focus on how women—and men—perceive and experience the consequences of unintended childbearing. We conducted semi-structured, in-depth interviews engaging respondents in discussions of consequences traditionally measured in quantitative analyses in order to explore the relationship between pregnancy intentions and these measures. We also identified consequences that have not been captured in large-scale fertility surveys. These qualitative data reveal new findings, both broadening and deepening our understanding of the impact of unintended childbearing on the lives of women, men and families. These new data provide the first opportunity to link the narrative of women’s and men’s experiences with the consequences of unintended childbearing found in the research literature that, to date, has been based entirely on quantitative findings.

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Presented in Session 120: Fertility Intentions: Causes and Consequences