Fertility intentions and the way they change following birth-a prospective longitudinal study

Heidi Preis*, Selen Tovim, Pnina Mor, Sorina Grisaru-Granovsky, Arnon Samueloff, Yael Benyamini

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Women's fertility intentions, their desired number of children and desired inter-pregnancy interval (IPI) are related to micro (personal) and macro (socio-cultural) level factors. We investigated factors that contribute to changes in women's fertility intentions in Israel, a developed country with high birth rates. Methods: Pregnant women (N = 1163), recruited from prenatal clinics and hospitals in two major metropolitan areas, completed self-report questionnaires prenatally (≥24 weeks gestation) and postpartum (2 months after childbirth). Women reported their socio-demographic background and obstetric history prenatally, their desired number of children and IPI at both time-points, and their objective and subjective birth experiences postpartum. Results: The findings indicated that background characteristics were related to prenatal fertility intentions. The strongest contributor to prenatal fertility intentions was women's degree of religiosity-the more religious they were, the more children they desired and the shorter their intended IPI. Women's postpartum fertility intentions were mostly consistent with their prenatal reports. In regression models, women who were very-religious, more educated and had previously given birth were less likely to report a lower number of desired of children at postpartum, compared to their prenatal report. Women who reported greater birth satisfaction and gave birth for the first time were less likely to change desired IPI. Conclusion: Having a negative birth experience could adversely affect women's fertility intentions. Yet, in a pronatalist and medicalized birth culture, social pressures may decrease the effects of birth experiences on fertility intentions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number228
JournalBMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Issue number1
StatePublished - 17 Apr 2020


  • Birth experience
  • Fertility intentions
  • Interpregnancy interval
  • Mode of delivery
  • Religiosity


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