Introduction Women's fertility and economic well-being are inextricably linked; it has even been said that motherhood is the single greatest predictor of poverty for women (Crittenden, 2001). However, like socio-economic status, fertility is not uniform across women. Black women are disproportionately likely to be poor and to have children with multiple men, for example (Carlson & Furstenberg, 2006). In this paper, using a sample of low-income, predominantly African-American, women in Illinois, I examine both the precursors and the effects of childbearing events for women's economic well-being. Specifically, I examine the trajectory into, and ramifications of, having children with multiple partners. I do this in an effort to disentangle some of the causal questions about the interaction of maternity and economic disadvantage specifically with regards to multiple partner fertility.