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Does Pregnancy Happen By Planning or Fate? People Say It’s a Mix of Both

Was the pregnancy planned?

Doctors often ask this question, and the answers are ultimately used to provide individual health care as well as to improve public health services. But a new study shows that most people don’t hold straightforward “yes” or “no” views about whether pregnancies can or should be planned.

Professors Meredith Manze and Diana Romero, along with Ph.D. student Dana Watnick (all of CUNY’s Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy) interviewed 176 heterosexual men and women for the study published in Reproductive Health.

The participants offered three perspectives on pregnancy, viewing it as either a deliberate process (either actively planned or avoided), a predetermined phenomenon that “just happens” due to fate, or as a mixture of both.

“This study highlights the need to shift how we think about and measure pregnancy, from one of solely deliberate intentions to one that recognizes that pregnancy can also be viewed as predetermined,” Manze told the Graduate School of Public Health. 

Only 5% of participants perceived pregnancy as solely a phenomenon “predetermined by fate or a higher power.” But 53% used language suggesting they believe pregnancy happens by a mix of both planning and fate.

“To a certain extent you plan. But there’s only so much you can control with that either. I suppose we will plan,” a 30-year-old mother told researchers. “Reach a point in which we say, ‘Oh, I think I’m ready to try again and have another baby.’ Then let things happen as they happen.”

A 24-year-old white man with no kids said: “It’s definitely not something you can entirely plan, though, having a family … You cannot tell yourself, ‘Look, I will not start a family until I have paid off student loans,’ that’s not how those things work, and I feel like it’s very much an organic thing.”

The authors say that because these findings shed light on people’s lived experiences, health care providers should not regard planned pregnancies as the only rational way to get pregnant. They argue that redefining approaches to understand pregnancy the way many people perceive it can help improve public health services.

Beyond SUM

Work By

Meredith Manze (Assistant Professor, Health and Social Sciences) | Profile 1
Diana Romero (Associate Professor, Health and Social Sciences) | Profile 1
Dana Watnick (Ph.D. student, Health and Health Policy) | Profile 1

Bonus Content

"Study suggests many perceive pregnancy as predetermined " (Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy)