UNWANTED PREGNANCIES: WHY CONTRACEPTION AND FAMILY PLANNING ARE IMPORTANT
Posted on: February 01, 2022
50% of unintended pregnancies end in abortions. 13% will end in miscarriages and 38% lead to unplanned births.
As implied by its name, unintended pregnancies are either mistimed or unwanted.
A mistimed pregnancy means that the couple conceived earlier than desired. And an unwanted pregnancy refers to when the couple has conceived but has no desire to have the child (or more children).
Causes of unwanted pregnancies
In either situation, the pregnancy occurred because there was no effective birth control or no family planning option present.
The couple may not be aware of what is fact or myth about birth control. Or they may be misinformed about contraception and are fearful of its side effects.
Some couples may also be influenced by cultural taboos or social stigma. And in all of these cases, they reject the use of contraceptive methods or family planning.
On the other hand, other couples may already be familiar with contraception.
However, they have limited access to the options that are suitable for them. They may also be using the contraception incorrectly, like using the wrong condom or being inconsistent with The Pill. These mistakes render them ineffective.
Regardless of the reason, the lack of effective contraception and family planning options has negative effects. And these effects include unwanted pregnancies.
Couples reactions to unwanted pregnancies
Unwanted pregnancies have life-changing effects on the mother, child, and family as a whole. And there are different reactions to unwanted pregnancies, depending on the couple’s unique circumstances.
They may include:
“I don’t think we can afford another baby, sayang.”
An unwanted pregnancy may cause financial hardship to a family. Nowadays, raising a child may cost between RM393,000 and RM1.3 million on average from birth to graduation from university.
The couple’s income, lifestyle, and expectations for their child will decide how costly their expenses will be. And that’s not all. The couple may also start spending money before the child is born.
Throughout the pregnancy, couples are expected to pay for regular check-ups, tests, and prenatal supplements too. That may add an extra RM20,000 to the bill, provided that there are no complications during pregnancy and childbirth.
So some may call the new arrival a bundle of joy. But an unwanted pregnancy may disrupt a family’s financial security if they’re not prepared to raise a child.
“Not safe?? Who cares lah. Just do the abortion!”
Couples who are desperate to terminate an unwanted pregnancy usually turn to abortion first (remember, half of all unintended pregnancies are resolved by abortions).
However, due to the lack of access to safe abortion services and information, many Malaysian mothers with unwanted pregnancies risk their lives when they turn to unsafe abortion options.
This normally involves black market abortion pills. Easily available online, these dangerous pills cause harmful side effects like heavy bleeding and amniotic fluid embolism. And can be life-threatening to the mother when taken unsupervised.
“Ish, buat apa susah-susah? Just get rid of it!”
Aside from unsafe abortions, some couples turn to baby-dumping. Malaysia is unfortunately notorious for this practice, as a baby is abandoned every three or four days in this country.
More than 1,000 baby dumping cases were recorded between 2010 and 2019 in Malaysia. And in 64% of these cases, the baby was found dead.
Couples who resort to baby dumping are usually desperate and unable to support a child from an unwanted pregnancy. They are forced to anonymously leave their child wherever they can.
Sometimes the baby will end up in a baby hatch and into the arms of new care-takers. But more often than not, they’re found in the rubbish bin or a public toilet.
“Your baby, your problem lah!”
However, should the couple decide to keep the pregnancy and raise the baby, they
may face further challenges down the road.
Women who experience unwanted pregnancies are more likely to delay prenatal care, like the dietary and lifestyle changes needed for a growing fetus. 9 In addition, they’re prone to poor nutrition during the pregnancy. 10 And their babies have a higher chance of being prematurely born.
Women with unwanted pregnancies are also vulnerable to abuse. Domestic violence is strongly associated with unwanted pregnancies. And is a key issue in maternal and fetal death or suffering.
As the pregnancy progresses, these negative effects are experienced by both mother and child. Unfortunately after childbirth, the adverse effects continue for the child. Children from unwanted pregnancies are more likely to experience negative psychological and physical health issues. Their chances of dropping out of school is
also higher and they tend to show delinquent behavior (like disobedience) as they grow up.
The negative effects of unwanted pregnancies are dire. Without effective contraception and family planning, many couples may face financial hardship or the difficult choice between an unsafe abortion or a child they cannot raise.
Similarly, they may contemplate the brutal option of baby dumping or be forced to live a life of abuse and health issues. Unwanted pregnancies affect not only the mother and child, but the family as a whole.
Hence, gaining control of their children’s birth order is key to keep both mother and child safe and healthy. It also improves the family’s quality of life, financially and psychologically. And this is all possible with the right information and access to effective contraceptive methods and family planning.