Patterns of fertility behaviour among female students at the University of Zambia.
Researchers studied 62 pregnant women intending to not terminate their pregnancy and to continue their studies and 27 nonpregnant women to learn about female student fertility related behavior. They were all enrolled at the University of Zambia either during the 1987-1988 or 1989-1990 academic years. Methodology consisted of interviews, questionnaires, and focus group discussions. 68% of all women were single with 40% of them having at least 1 child. 75% of the women were sexually active. 42.7% knew traditional family planning methods with friends, grandmothers, and social aunts telling 25.9% of all the women about such methods. Yet mass media provided most women (49.4%) with knowledge about modern methods. 50.6% thought the pill to be the most effective method. >65% considered the 24-26 as the ideal age at marriage. The mean ideal family size was 3.5, somewhat less than family size for urban women in Zambia. 71.9% considered children to be assets since children are a means to social security (33%), self fulfillment (8%), and companionship (7%). 94.4% approved of family planning mainly for purposes of child spacing (29.2%), limiting (23.6), and spacing and limiting (32.6%). Even though they knew about and approved of family planning and claimed modern attitudes concerning ideal age at marriage and ideal family size, 62% of single pregnant students and 59% of married pregnant students did not use or regularly use contraception. This suggested that they considered early childbearing to be an asset. The leading reasons for contraception nonuse included perception of low pregnancy risk (40%) and desire for a child (28%). Only 3.2% claimed method failure. 64% of all women said partners did not approve of contraceptive use. Access to family planning and cost were not a problem. Only 22% of pregnant students said pregnancy would reduce their chances of marriage. In conclusion, many women became pregnant surreptitiously.