Study finds majority of Latina women to be optimistic about unintended pregnancy

Niq Velez

Though unplanned pregnancies might seem disastrous to women who do not want children, public policy graduate student Abigail Aiken said a significant portion of Latina women she surveyed adopted a positive attitude once they discovered they were pregnant.

Aiken used a survey sampling Latina women along the US-Mexico border who used oral contraceptives. During this time, a portion of the sample became pregnant as a result of multiple factors, including improper or inconsistent use of contraceptives or contraceptive malfunction. Nevertheless, a majority of these women still professed happiness when asked about their pregnancy, Aiken said. 

“It’s totally possible for people to feel completely happy about a pregnancy that was not intended,” Aiken said.

Undeclared freshman Giuliana Besa graduated from a high school in Mexico and said cultural expectations of American and Latina women differ.

“In Mexico, the idea of family is a big thing,” Besa said. “If you get pregnant … there’s always the assumption that you have to raise it. Adoption is not really an option in Mexico.”

Aiken said previous researchers have asserted women who are happy about unexpected pregnancies were ambivalent about pregnancy from the start, but her research does not support this claim.

“Ambivalence in th is context means that your feelings about a pregnancy are at odds with your plans to avoid pregnancy,” Aiken said. “With these women, we found that was not the case. They planned to take the pill for a long time, they really did not want another child. Some even considered postpartum sterilization after their last pregnancy.”

Aiken said her study suggests the existence of an interesting phenomenon but she cannot explain it yet. In the future she said she plans to investigate emotional shifts further through in-depth interviews.

“It is something that you have to ask women about and get their real perspectives,” Aiken said. “You don’t really have the underlying richness of what someone is trying to say in a short survey.”

Clarification: The data used in the study comes from the Border Contraceptive Access Study.