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FOR RELEASE: April 3, 2007
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications

Study Shows Father's Feelings About Pregnancy Impact Mother and Baby

About one-third of Oklahoma live births occur to women who indicate the father did not intend the pregnancy, according to a recent study conducted by the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH).

This information was part of an effort by the OSDH to examine the influence a father's feelings about pregnancy may have on a mother's feelings about her pregnancy and her behaviors before, during and after the pregnancy. OSDH officials utilized the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS), a statewide random survey, to collect information about maternal behaviors and experiences.
"We believe the issue of the father's intention is very important for promoting positive healthy behaviors for the mother and baby," said State Health Commissioner Dr. Mike Crutcher.

The survey categorized Oklahoma fathers' intentions into three groups: those who wanted a pregnancy at the time of conception (40 percent), those who did not (31 percent), and those who were ambivalent about the pregnancy (28 percent).

Other key survey findings include the following:

  • African American and American Indian mothers were more likely to report that their partners were ambivalent about the pregnancy.
  • Women with partners who did not intend the pregnancy were more likely to be younger than 20 years of age or unmarried.
  • Mothers reporting that the father intended the pregnancy before conception were more likely to be older than 25 years of age, have some post-secondary education, married or Hispanic.
  • The only two groups to achieve an intended pregnancy rate at or above 50 percent (for fathers) were women aged 30 to 34 (50.9 percent) and married women (50.6 percent).
  • Men who did not intend their partner's pregnancy were less likely to help her with caring for the baby and paying for baby supplies.

Several important pregnancy-related health behaviors were found to be associated with the father's feelings about the pregnancy. Women with partners who intended the

pregnancy were less likely to smoke three months prior to pregnancy and more likely to receive first trimester prenatal care. The positive effects of an intended pregnancy extend beyond delivery, as these mothers were also more likely to initiate breastfeeding. Fathers were more likely to assist mothers with baby care and supplies if they intended the pregnancy, when compared to fathers who did not.

As a result of this research, the OSDH offers these recommendations for health care providers:

  • Provide an opportunity for all men and women to make a life plan for when they want to have children and other reproduction needs.
  • Encourage men to attend preconception health, prenatal care and well baby care visits to discuss their involvement and its impact on the mother and child.
  • Ask fathers to submit questions if they are unable to attend health visits for the mother or child.
  • Encourage women who attend family planning, prenatal and well baby visits without their partners to try to arrange the next appointment so that their partner can attend.
  • Develop culturally sensitive family planning strategies to include men and women who may be ambivalent about planning a family. 
  • Conduct additional research into pregnancy intention to focus on developing interventions to improve health behaviors and family planning for those who are ambivalent about pregnancy.

For more information about this and other PRAMS surveys, contact Alicia Lincoln at 405/271-6761. For information about family planning, contact Cedar Jackson at 405/271-4476 or the county health department near you. Additional information is available at this OSDH Web site:
http://www.health.state.ok.us keyword PRAMS.


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