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What’s Your Motivation to Be Pregnant? Links Between Motives for Parenthood and Relationship Quality

By OnePlusOne, 15 July 2015 Behaviour change, Children, Cohabitation, Communication, Conflict, Divorce, Early intervention, Fathers, Health, New baby, New parents, Parenting, Pregnancy, Separation, Stress, Transitions

Many expectant parents find pregnancy exciting as they anticipate the birth of their child but for some it can be an anxious time and couples can find their relationships strained. It is important to understand the factors that affect the well-being of mothers during pregnancy as this can predict how they manage after having the baby. Interestingly for us at OnePlusOne, this study looked at the association between mothers’ motivation for pregnancy and their relationship quality. This is central as we know that relationship satisfaction before birth is significantly linked to the quality of the relationship after birth, with consequences for both parents and children [1].

The authors in this study looked at two elements of motivation; the quantity/ intensity of motivation and the quality of motivation, i.e. whether the woman feels ownership of the pregnancy or if she feels more pressured or conflicted. They found that most women fully endorsed the decision to be pregnant, probably because this is a key life transition, one which is usually preceded by a lot of thought and discussion. However, the study conditions may have excluded groups of women who were more likely to experience unplanned pregnancy, with the sample mainly consisting of educated women, all of who were in relationships at the time of filling in the questionnaire.

The findings show that there is some link between motivations to be pregnant and women’s personal well-being and relationship satisfaction during pregnancy. In particular, low intensity of motivation was linked to low relationship satisfaction and to some extent to depressive symptoms, while quality of motivation was linked to vitality and to lower depressive symptoms. These findings are important and explorations of the motivations for pregnancy could help expectant mothers to reflect upon and come to terms with their new role.

Abstract can be found here

[1] Reynolds, Houlston, and Coleman, ‘Understanding Relationship Quality’.

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