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      Unplanned pregnancy and subsequent psychological distress in partnered women: a cross-sectional study of the role of relationship quality and wider social support


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          Research into the impact of unintended pregnancy on the wellbeing of women tends to focus on pregnancies ending in either termination or lone motherhood. Unintended pregnancy is common in partnered women, but little is known about the association between unintended pregnancy and postpartum affective disorders, such as depression and anxiety in this group. Poor relationship quality and lack of social support are considered risk factors for psychological distress (PD). We examined the association between unplanned motherhood and subsequent PD in partnered women, for whom evidence is sparse, accounting for the role of relationship quality and social support.


          Data for 12,462 partnered mothers were drawn from the first survey of Millennium Cohort Study, completed at 9 months postpartum. Women reported whether their baby was planned, and how they felt when they discovered that they were pregnant. Pregnancy intention is categorised as “planned”, “unplanned/happy”, “unplanned/ambivalent” and “unplanned/unhappy”. PD was assessed using the modified 9-item Rutter Malaise Inventory. Social support was measured by a composite score for perceived support, and a measure of actual support from friends and family. Relationship quality was assessed using a modified Golombok-Rust Inventory of Marital State. The effect of pregnancy intention on the odds of PD at 9 months was estimated, adjusting for potential confounding factors. All analyses were weighted for response and design effects.


          In total 32.8%(weighted) (4343/12462) of mothers reported an unplanned pregnancy: 23.3 wt% (3087) of mothers felt happy, 3.5 wt% (475) ambivalent, and 6.0 wt% (781) unhappy upon discovery. Unplanned pregnancy was associated with a significantly increased odds of PD compared to planned (OR 1.73 (95%CI: 1.53, 1.95)). This was more pronounced among women who reported negative or ambivalent feelings in early pregnancy (OR 2.72 (95%CI:2.17, 3.41) and 2.56 (95%CI:1.95, 3.34), respectively), than those who reported positive feelings (OR 1.39 (95%CI:1.21, 1.60)). Adjustment for relationship quality, in particular, reduced odds of PD after unplanned pregnancy (e.g. from 2.19 (95%C: 1.74, 2.74) to 1.63 (95% CI: 1.29, 2.07 in the unplanned, unhappy group compared to the planned).


          A third of partnered mothers reported that their pregnancy was unintended, yet this group is under-researched. Unplanned motherhood was associated with increased risk of PD at 9 months postpartum, particularly among women who felt unhappy or ambivalent at the start. The roles of relationship quality and social support require further investigation, as possible means to intervene and improve maternal wellbeing.

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          Effects of perinatal mental disorders on the fetus and child.

          Perinatal mental disorders are associated with increased risk of psychological and developmental disturbances in children. However, these disturbances are not inevitable. In this Series paper, we summarise evidence for associations between parental disorders and offspring outcomes from fetal development to adolescence in high-income, middle-income, and low-income countries. We assess evidence for mechanisms underlying transmission of disturbance, the role of mediating variables (underlying links between parent psychopathology and offspring outcomes) and possible moderators (which change the strength of any association), and focus on factors that are potentially modifiable, including parenting quality, social (including partner) and material support, and duration of the parental disorder. We review research of interventions, which are mostly about maternal depression, and emphasise the need to both treat the parent's disorder and help with associated caregiving difficulties. We conclude with policy implications and underline the need for early identification of those parents at high risk and for more early interventions and prevention research, especially in socioeconomically disadvantaged populations and low-income countries.
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            Antenatal risk factors for postpartum depression: a synthesis of recent literature.

            Postpartum nonpsychotic depression is the most common complication of childbearing, affecting approximately 10-15% of women and, as such, represents a considerable health problem affecting women and their families. This systematic review provides a synthesis of the recent literature pertaining to antenatal risk factors associated with developing this condition. Databases relating to the medical, psychological, and social science literature were searched using specific inclusion criteria and search terms, in order to identify studies examining antenatal risk factors for postpartum depression. Studies were identified and critically appraised in order to synthesize the current findings. The search resulted in the identification of two major meta-analyses conducted on over 14,000 subjects, as well as newer subsequent large-scale clinical studies. The results of these studies were then summarized in terms of effect sizes as defined by Cohen. The findings from the meta-analyses of over 14,000 subjects, and subsequent studies of nearly 10,000 additional subjects found that the following factors were the strongest predictors of postpartum depression: depression during pregnancy, anxiety during pregnancy, experiencing stressful life events during pregnancy or the early puerperium, low levels of social support, and a previous history of depression. Critical appraisal of the literature revealed a number of methodological and knowledge gaps that need to be addressed in future research. These include examining specific risk factors in women of lower socioeconomic status, risk factors pertaining to teenage mothers, and the use of appropriate instruments assessing postpartum depression for use within different cultural groups.
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              Intended and unintended pregnancies worldwide in 2012 and recent trends.

              Periodic estimation of the incidence of global unintended pregnancy can help demonstrate the need for and impact of family planning programs. We draw upon multiple sources of data to estimate pregnancy incidence by intention status and outcome at worldwide, regional, and subregional levels in 2012 and to assess recent trends using previously published estimates for 2008 and 1995. We find that 213 million pregnancies occurred in 2012, up slightly from 211 million in 2008. The global pregnancy rate decreased only slightly from 2008 to 2012, after declining substantially between 1995 and 2008. Eighty-five million pregnancies, representing 40 percent of all pregnancies, were unintended in 2012. Of these, 50 percent ended in abortion, 13 percent ended in miscarriage, and 38 percent resulted in an unplanned birth. The unintended pregnancy rate continued to decline in Africa and in the Latin America and Caribbean region. If the aims of the London Summit on Family Planning are carried out, the incidence of unwanted and mistimed pregnancies should decline in the coming years.

                Author and article information

                BMC Pregnancy Childbirth
                BMC Pregnancy Childbirth
                BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
                BioMed Central (London )
                26 January 2017
                26 January 2017
                : 17
                : 44
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1936 8948, GRID grid.4991.5, MSc student, Nuffield Department of Population Health, , University of Oxford, ; Old Road Campus, Oxford, OX3 7LF UK
                [2 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1936 8948, GRID grid.4991.5, National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, Nuffield Department of Population Health, , University of Oxford, ; Old Road Campus, Oxford, OX3 7LF UK
                Author information
                © The Author(s). 2017

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                : 16 September 2016
                : 10 January 2017
                Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100000265, Medical Research Council;
                Award ID: MR/L019671/1
                Award Recipient :
                Research Article
                Custom metadata
                © The Author(s) 2017

                Obstetrics & Gynecology
                unintended pregnancy,unplanned pregnancy,psychological distress,depression


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