Unintended pregnancies are more likely to result in babies born too early and babies with low birth weight. There are many reasons for this; for example, women who don't intend to become pregnant are more likely to get into prenatal care later and in some cases may use substances that are harmful to the pregnancy. Children from unintended pregnancies are more likely to have poor physical and mental health and tend to not do as well in school. Our goal is to give all babies a healthy start in life. Reducing unintended pregnancies supports this goal.
In 2014, about 35% of pregnancies were considered unintended. This data comes from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) which is an annual survey of mothers conducted 2-6 months after delivery. Births classified as unintended are those that the mother said were conceived when she wanted no more children ever or the pregnancy occurred earlier than she wanted.
Teen pregnancies are often unintended, but the highest number of unintended pregnancies occur in the 20-24 age group. Counties with highest rates of unintended pregnancy tend to be rural, with the exception of Pierce County. Low income women or those who are Black, American Indian/Alaska Native or Other Pacific Islander report the highest percentage of births from unintended pregnancy.
Training providers on Long Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) provision
LARC methods can prevent pregnancy for three to ten years. However they are costly and require insertion by a healthcare provider.
Training Community Health Workers
Community Health Workers are trusted members of a community that can connect people to information and resources. We are working with a company on developing a family planning training module.
Strategizing with partners
Preventing unintended pregnancy is a complex issue. We are working with Health Care Authority, Department of Social and Health Services, Department of Corrections and Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction to identify collaborative strategies.
Women in sexual relationships with men
- Think about your goals for having or not having children by exploring pregnancy intention or creating a Reproductive Life Plan.
- Visit a family planning center. To find a clinic near you, visit our website.
- Talk with your healthcare providers about your birth control options. If you don't want to get pregnant in the next three years, ask about a long acting reversible contraceptive method.
- If you are thinking about getting pregnant, visit our website for important health tips.
Parents and guardians
You play an important role in preventing teen pregnancy, which is often unintended.
- Talk with your teenager about making healthy sexual choices. For help having this conversation, visit this website.
- Ask your child’s school or school district if they teach comprehensive sexual health education. For more information on comprehensive sexual health education, download this document about Washington's voluntary guidelines on Sexual Health Information and Disease Prevention.
- Talk about sexual health with an adult that you trust.
- Think about waiting to have sex until you’re older, feel ready or have found the right person.
- If you are having sex, or thinking about it, learn more about things like using condoms, different birth control options, and sexually transmitted infections. Visit http://www.bedsider.org or http://www.sexetc.org for more information.
- If you are having sex, visit a family planning center for education, birth control, and testing for sexually transmitted infections. To find a clinic near you visit our website.
- Ask your school if they teach comprehensive sexual health education. For more information on comprehensive sexual health education, download this document about Washington's voluntary guidelines on Sexual Health Information and Disease Prevention.