“Honey I’m Pregnant!” Planned, unexpected and unwanted transitions to parenthood
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Previous studies have shown that for many couples, the transition to parenthood is accompanied by a marked decline in relationship satisfaction and individual functioning. However, there is substantial variability in couples’ reactions to the birth of their first baby, with some couples even showing improvements in relationship and individual functioning. Previous research demonstrates that two important risk factors for declines in relationship satisfaction after the birth of the couple’s first child are whether the pregnancy was planned and whether the couple would like to be having a child at this time. Other studies have shown that individual risk factors (e.g., depression) and other relationship predictors (e.g., not being married) can also lead to measurable declines for couples after the transition to parenthood. However, despite the seeming overlap of these risk factors with pregnancy characteristics, previous research has not examined whether having an unplanned/undesired pregnancy is independent of the other individual and relationship risk factors. Therefore, the present study examines whether there is a relation between the type of pregnancy and the individual and relationship risk factors examined in previous literature. Participants included 175 heterosexual couples along with 18 women and 5 men whose partners did not participate. As part of a larger study offering interventions to first-time parents, couples responded to flyers, community boards, and pamphlets placed in doctors’ offices as well as announcements made in childbirth classes. Participants who contacted the study were asked a series of questions over the phone to gather more information about the individual, their relationship, and their pregnancy to see if they were eligible for this larger study; the present study utilizes this data collected over the phone. One-way ANOVAs and Chi Squares were used to analyze the data. The present study will determine whether having an unplanned or undesired pregnancy can be assumed to be a risk factor for subsequent relationship deterioration in its own right or whether it may be confounded with other individual and relationship risk factors. If it is indeed an independent risk factor, interventions could be targeted at this at-risk group. On the other hand, if unplanned and undesired pregnancies are found to be strongly related to other individual and relationship risk factors, then already-developed interventions may be effective in preventing subsequent relationship distress.
transition to parenthood
Minarcik, Jennifer (2008). “Honey I’m Pregnant!” Planned, unexpected and unwanted transitions to parenthood. Available electronically from