The desire for a child among a sample of heterosexual Australian couples

Damien Riggs, Clare Bartholomaeus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To understand the desire for children among heterosexual couples planning for a first child. Background: In Australia, almost two-thirds of all pregnancies are planned, and over 40% of all children born each year are to first-time mothers. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were undertaken as part of a longitudinal study on planned first-time parenthood among Australian heterosexual couples. Ten couples who were planning for a pregnancy were interviewed, men and women separately. Results: An inductive thematic analysis identified four modes of decision-making: (1) female partner-directed, (2) male partner-directed, (3) joint-directed due to circumstance, and (4) joint-directed, and three themes related to the desire to have a child: (1) having children is a natural progression, (2) there is an innate drive to want to have children, and (3) a desire to see oneself reflected in another human being. Conclusions: The paper concludes by exploring the implications of the findings for service provision. Specifically, intending parents may be better supported by services that provide gender-specific information during the planning stage, including about infertility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)442-450
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2016


  • heterosexual couples
  • parenting desire
  • Pregnancy planning
  • reproduction


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