How many pregnancies are accidental?

The word I’ve most frequently been exposed to, or embraced using myself, to discuss unplanned pregnancies is “surprise”. In fact, on Facebook a month or so ago, I asked you guys if your pregnancies were planned or surprises and about half of you said “surprise”. I think there is a bit of a misunderstanding there, however. When I say “surprise”, I don’t mean “I’m an adult and I wasn’t using birth control because I was thinking maybe a baby would be okay, but I still couldn’t believe a sperm met an egg and there’s a human growing inside me. OMG! Boy, I am surprised!”  I mean, “I did not plan to be pregnant at all.”

I think I used the wrong word when I chose surprise, and now I’ve come upon a survey that set me straight — and answered the question I’ve always wondered: How many pregnancies are unintended? Like serious surprises.

My friend Stacey sent me a link that led me to large-scale survey orchestrated by The Childbirth Connection. A research firm fielded bazillions of questions about maternity, childbirth, and the state of mothers. The survey was conducted online, so the participants were women with access to the Internet. When I read the numbers regarding pregnancy “intendedness” (the word used in the research report), I felt satisfied.

Then I made this graphic to show you.


If you’re  a data geek or interested in maternal health care, birth, or breastfeeding, see all the survey results here.