There is a serious shortage of stock images that turn up when you type in "bored pregnant woman," particularly if you are listening to The Latest Statistics™. The National Center for Health Statistics has released the first federal report on intended and unintended pregnancies in the U.S. since 1990, and it shows that the number of cohabiting women who have given birth has risen from 14% in 2002 to 23% in 2006-2010. Larry Finer, a director of the non-profit Guttmacher Institute in New York, clarifies:
Because there's an underlying shift in the population that more people are cohabiting, that leads to more unintended pregnancies and unintended births.
Yeah, Mr. Finer! Yeah, science!
The data, based on interviews with 12,279 women aged 15-44, also established that the unintended pregnancy rate has stayed at 37%, the same figure it was at 1982. But this time the NCHS recorded certain nuances of the unmarried cohabitating women who became pregnant, citing a recorded "ambivalence" about having a child, said Bowling Green State University sociologist Karen Guzzo: "They're in this committed relationship and are often cohabiting and not trying hard to avoid having a child, but they're not trying to have one, either."
While researchers hypothesized that more consistent methods of contraception would have made the figure drop, it turns out that not enough people are using them to make a difference; 36% of shacked-up women who cited an unintentional birth didn't use contraception because they thought they couldn't get pregnant (and 23% of those women said they "didn't really mind if they got pregnant.")
Not to go all Bill Clinton on you, but what does "ambivalence" even mean in a circumstance like this? If the baby is not welcomed with the de rigeur bells and whistles and poppin' bottles and 76 trombones leading the big parade? In other words, as that old colloquialism goes, "Why buy the cow when you can have a baby with the cow, or not have a baby with the cow, and both you and the cow can be relatively happy and just 'do you' and not make a big thing about it?"
'Cohabiting women having more babies' [USA Today]
Photo via CREATISTA/Shutterstock