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

Originally published on July 24, 2012, on bedsider.org.

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!


natasha b.
Past Member 3 years ago

I have no words to express my gratitude, Eka the great priest of Eka kingdom...I have fought with infertility issues for more than a decade. My Gyn told a year ago that one of my tubes was blocked, and had insisted that IVF was the only option left for me. I was desperate and terrified due to my relatively advanced age (I was 38 a year ago) and the 2 ovarian cysts that were giving me hell, that I would be childless. My husband and I decided we will keep on fighting as I have read many awful stories about the side effects, the low success rates and pain involved with the IVF procedure so we kept looking for a way out to have a child of our own. We almost gave up and then I found the email of priest Eka (dreka14demons@gmail.com) and I emailed he for help and he told me all what I will do for him to cast me a pregnancy and pregnancy protection spell. And kindly I immediately ordered him to do all the needful for me to get pregnant and I did everything Eka said along with my husband who had poor sperm motility. After two months of trying I got pregnant with my first baby boy. With one blocked tube and 2 ovarian cysts, I think this is nothing short of a miracle! I will thank Eka for everything, Contact him (dreka14demons@gmail.com)

Sherry Kohn
Sherry Kohn3 years ago

Many thanks to you !

Chloe R.
Chloe R5 years ago


Ganaisha Calvin
Ganaisha C5 years ago

these stats aren't too surprising

Duane B.
.6 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Lori B.
Lori B6 years ago

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

dalila p.
dalila p6 years ago

children should be MIRACLES not surprises. Keep in mind!

Melania Padilla
Melania P6 years ago

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

Christopher M.
Christopher M.6 years ago

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.

Bruno Moreira
Bruno Moreira6 years ago