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37 Percent of U.S. Babies Are “a Surprise”

37 Percent of U.S. Babies Are “a Surprise”

Originally published on July 24, 2012, on

New data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) tell us that 37 percent of all babies born to 15-44-year-old women between 2006 and 2010 were, ahem, a surprise. And of course that doesn’t account for unintended pregnancies that ended in miscarriage or abortion.

There was lots of useful information in the report (you can download it and nerd out if you’re so inclined), but what really stood out to us was the responses women gave about why they weren’t using contraception when they conceived. The number one reason women gave, to the tune of 36 percent of them, was “I didn’t think I could get pregnant.” To that, we say YES. YOU. CAN.

The next most popular reason women gave was not minding if they got pregnant (23 percent), followed by not expecting to have sex (17 percent). Fourteen percent of women said they weren’t using birth control when they got pregnant because they were worried about the side effects—allow us to note here that pregnancy itself has plenty of side effects (and we’re not even talking about giving birth to/raising a baby you didn’t plan for). The last 13 percent of respondents said their male partners either didn’t want to use birth control or didn’t want them to use it. (If you or someone you know is in that situation, remember that there are some birth control methods no one else needs to know about.)

A few more noteworthy points:

  • Younger women were much more likely than older women to have an unintended pregnancy—77 percent of pregnancies among 15-19-year-olds were unintended, 50 percent were among 20-24-year-olds, and 25 percent of pregnancies among 25-44-year-old women were unintended.
  • 23 percent of married women said their pregnancy was unintended in comparison to 67 percent of single women and 51 percent of cohabiting women.
  • Women with a college degree were much less likely to have an unintended pregnancy than women with less education.

The takeaway? There’s a good chance that you know some folks who aren’t using birth control and aren’t trying to get pregnant. Send ‘em over!

Birth Control is Green!
Male Birth Control Gel?
Birth Control & Heart Attacks & Strokes — Oh My!

Read more: Babies, General Health, Gynecology, Health, Life, News & Issues, Obstetrics, Pregnancy, Sex, Sexual Health, Women's Health, , , , , ,

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Everyone should have the life they want, when they want it. And until someone is ready to have a baby, we believe they should have access to birth control. That’s where we come in. Bedsider makes birth control easier. How? By giving you everything you need to find it, get it, and use it well.


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6:02AM PDT on Mar 24, 2014


9:47PM PST on Jan 25, 2014

these stats aren't too surprising

9:52AM PDT on Apr 27, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

6:34AM PST on Mar 4, 2013

The IUD is awesome. I wish my insurance would cover it :(

1:41AM PST on Feb 21, 2013

children should be MIRACLES not surprises. Keep in mind!

11:15AM PST on Feb 13, 2013

This is so wrong... This number is too high and our worst problem is HUMAN OVERPOPULATION! ;(

5:03PM PST on Jan 16, 2013

A lady friend told me she didn't intend on having her second. I contrast that to my best friend who knows... how to rule out kids. I would never surprise a woman with a second, I am not sure if I can afford one.

10:09PM PST on Dec 26, 2012


10:30PM PST on Dec 20, 2012

I fall right into this article, I was 33, with the same person for 12 years, and above pic is the exact look on my face when I found out I was pregnant. Four years later,,,,, most days I feel like roller coaster ride, at the end of the day, watching my daughter sleep, I feel a love that cannot compare.

5:41PM PST on Dec 19, 2012

Only 37%? Hmm...interesting.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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