NEPAL – How do women learn they are pregnant? The introduction of clinics and pregnancy awareness in Nepal 

by Isabel Musse, Rebecca Thornton, Dirgha Ghimire

Studies in Family Planning, 8 December 2021  (Not open access)

The earlier a woman learns about her pregnancy status, the sooner she can make decisions about her own and infant’s health. This paper examines how women learn about their pregnancy status and measures how access to pregnancy tests affects earlier pregnancy knowledge. Using 10 years of individual-level monthly panel data in Nepal, we find that, on average, women learn they are pregnant in their 4.6th month of pregnancy. Living approximately a mile further from a clinic offering pregnancy tests increases the time a woman knows she is pregnant by one week (5 percent increase) and decreases the likelihood of knowing in the first trimester by 4.5 percentage points (16 percent decrease). Women with prior pregnancies experience the most substantial effects of distance within the first two trimesters, while, for women experiencing their first pregnancy, distance does not affect knowledge. These results suggest that, while access to clinics can increase pregnancy awareness for women who recognize pregnancy symptoms, other complementary policies are needed to increase pregnancy awareness of women in their first pregnancy.

PHOTO by Smita Sharma, 2016 in Human Rights Watch, 8 September 2016