Fertility intentions after pregnancy loss: how does a crisis event impact women’s subsequent life course?

Samira Beringer , Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB)
Nadja Milewski, Federal Institut for Population Research, Wiesbaden

Objective: This study investigates whether experiencing a pregnancy loss influences women's fertility intentions. Background: A significant number of pregnancies result in miscarriage, which can be a traumatic experience. However, pregnancy loss has received minimal attention in socio-demographic studies focused on subsequent fertility intentions. Our study is grounded in theories from life-course research, the theory of planned behavior, and grief theories. Date and method: Using data from 11 waves of the German pairfam survey with 5,197 women, among whom 281 reported a miscarriage, we analyze four dependent variables: "Ideal number of children," "Realistic number of (additional) children," "Plans to have a (another) child in the next 2 years," and "Importance of having a (another) child." We employ linear fixed effect models, controlling for variables such as parity, age, partnership status, and current pregnancy status. Results: The importance of having another child, and the intention to have one within the next 2 years increase in the wave of the reported pregnancy loss and decrease in the following waves. However, the ideal number of children and the realistic number of expected children remain unaffected. Conclusions: The impact of pregnancy loss on fertility intentions varies across indicators. The women in our sample seem to perceive pregnancy loss as an accelerator in pursuing their fertility goals, rather than a turning point. Given the trend of delayed childbirth, future research on fertility and reproductive health care should prioritize the study of reproductive complications and how to support individuals in coping with them.

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 Presented in Session 70. Contraception and Reproduction