Unplanned pregnancy and subsequent psychological distress in partnered women

Woman reading positive result on home pregnancy test
CC Image courtesy of PinkMoose on Flickr

In the UK, around 40% of new mothers report that their pregnancy was unplanned. A higher proportion of unplanned pregnancies occur among women in their 20s and 30s than among teenagers, and more often among women who are in a stable, cohabiting or married partnerships. There is limited research exploring the impact of unplanned motherhood on the subsequent wellbeing of partnered women, but new research from NPEU has recently been published in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth.

The research, which was conducted by Katherine Barton, an MSc Global Health student at the University of Oxford, and NPEU researchers Claire Carson, Maria Quigley and Maggie Redshaw, analysed over 12,000 partnered women whose children are enrolled in the UK Millennium Cohort Study. They found that unplanned motherhood was associated with increased risk of psychological distress at 9 months postpartum, particularly among women who felt unhappy or ambivalent about their pregnancy at the start. They concluded that, while the quality of the partner relationship is an important factor in maternal wellbeing, neither relationship quality nor wider social support explained the observed association. Read the published research in full.