Immediate Childbearing Post-Marriage in Nepal: What Do Women, Their Husbands, and Mothers-in-Law Really Want?

Nadia Diamond-Smith , University of California, San Francisco
Noemi Plaza, University of California, San Francisco
Mahesh Puri, Center for Research on Environment Health and Population Activities (CREHPA)
Sheri Weiser, University of California, San Francisco
Cynthia C. Harper, University of California, San Francisco

It is accepted as the norm that newly married couples in South Asia want to begin childbearing immediately after marriage, and, even if they would like to delay, household members desire early childbearing and pressure young couples. We explore this assumption using in-depth interviews of intact triads of newly married women, their husbands, and mothers-in-laws, combined with quantitative data from 200 newly married women in rural Nepal. We find that most newly married women and men want to delay the first birth, but have not communicated about this in early in marriage and feel pressured by in-laws and society to bear children soon. This is leading to low levels of family planning use. Contrary to expectation, many mothers-in-law support delaying the first birth, but perceive societal pressure and are thus conflicted. Improving household communication and combatting misperceptions about family/societal expectations could help young couples delay the first birth as desired.

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 Presented in Session 119. Couple Dynamics of Sex, Contraception, and Fertility