Unintended pregnancy doesn’t just take a physical and financial toll on a woman; according to a new study published on Wednesday, it also has emotional consequences.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina spoke with 680 women — 433 who had an intended pregnancy, 207 who said their pregnancy was mistimed, and 40 with an unwanted pregnancy — to gauge the impact of an unintended pregnancy on a woman’s mental health. They found that a women who didn’t mean to get pregnant were much more likely to suffer from postpartum depression, and more likely to risk long-term mental health issues:
Results show that postpartum depression was more likely in women with unintended pregnancies at both three months (11% vs. 5%) and twelve months (12% vs. 3%). The increased risk was highest at 12 months and indicates that this group of women have a long term risk of depression. When age, education level and poverty status were factored into the results, women with unintended pregnancy were still twice as likely to have postpartum depression at twelve months.
The research offers yet another reason why it’s important for women to have readily available access to contraception. Access to birth control would lower rates of unintended pregnancy — and therefore both abortion and, as this study indicates, maternal depression.
Rates of unintended or mistimed pregnancy are particularly high among low-income women, who struggle to find access to affordable contraception. Unfortunately, there is little being done to increase access to family planning that would ultimately be beneficial to preventing such pregnancies. Instead, states are continually pushing to make it more difficult for all women, and particularly low-income women, to access this type of reproductive care.
(HT: Kay Steiger)