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Desire to Delay the First Childbirth among Young, Married Women in India: A Cross-Sectional Study Based on National Survey Data
Authors: Ismael Ibarra-Nava, Vikas Choudhry, and Anette Agardh
Source: BMC Public Health, 20(1): 350; DOI: 10.1186/s12889-020-8402-9
Topic(s): Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)
Maternal health
Country: Asia
Published: MAR 2020
Abstract: Background: Young women in India continue to face diverse challenges that threaten their health and wellbeing. The reproductive health and rights of newly married women, who are often expected to begin childbearing soon after marriage, are often neglected. The present study aims to understand some of the factors associated with the desire to delay the first childbirth in young, married women in India. Methods: The study utilised the data from the most recent National Family Health Survey 2015-16 in India. Our study sample was restricted to married women who were 15-24 years of age and who had never been pregnant at the time of the survey. Chi-squared tests, independent t-tests and multivariable logistic regression analyses were performed to measure associations between multiple independent factors and the reported preferred waiting time for the first childbirth. Results: Among never pregnant, married women aged 15-24, 21.49% reported a preferred waiting time for their first childbirth of 2 years or more. Belonging to an other backward class, or OBC, (ORadjusted 1.55, 95%CI 1.14-2.10), having completed higher education (ORadjusted 2.04, 95%CI 1.11-3.76), marrying after the age of 18 (ORadjusted 1.57, 95%CI 1.10-2.24), a husband's higher education level (ORadjusted 2.42, 95%CI 1.27-4.64), a younger husband (ORadjusted 0.75, 95%CI 0.66-0.84) and non-exposure to physical violence (ORadjusted 1.84, 95%CI 1.09-3.11) were significantly associated with a longer preferred waiting time for the first childbirth. Conclusion: Intimate partner violence and partner characteristics play a role in the childbearing intentions of young women after marriage. Delaying the first childbirth could improve women's educational and economic opportunities, their health, and the health of their future and properly planned children. To achieve this, it is crucial to promote and respect women's right to decide who and when to marry, when to have children, and to promote relationships free of gender-based violence. Keywords: First childbirth; India; Intimate partner violence; Young women.