November 4, 2019

Effect of integrating maternal health services and family planning services on postpartum family planning behavior in Ethiopia: results from a longitudinal survey

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Authors: Linnea A. ZimmermanYuanyuan YiMahari YihdegoSolomon AbrhaSolomon ShiferawAssefa Seme & Saifuddin Ahmed 

Journal: BMC Public Health, 19(1). November 2019

Very few postpartum women want to become pregnant within the next 2 years, but approximately 60% of postpartum women in low- and middle-income countries are not using contraceptive methods. The World Health Organization recommends that women receive postpartum family planning (PPFP) counseling during antenatal, immediate postpartum, and postnatal services. Our objective was to establish whether PPFP counseling is being provided in antenatal and postnatal care services in SNNPR, Ethiopia and whether receipt of PPFP counseling improved uptake of postpartum family planning use by 6 months postpartum.

Longitudinal data from the PMA 2020 – Maternal and Newborn Health study were used. At screening, 329 women were identified as six or more months pregnant; 307 completed the survey at 6 months postpartum. We used weighted parametric survival analysis with Weibull distribution to assess the effect of receipt of postpartum counseling in antenatal and/or postnatal care by 6 weeks postpartum on contraceptive uptake, after adjusting for intention to use family planning, wantedness of the index pregnancy, delivery location, amenorrhea, exclusive breastfeeding, residence, parity, and education.

Coverage of PPFP counseling is low; by six-weeks postpartum only 20% of women had received counseling. Women who received counseling in postnatal care only and postnatal care and antenatal care took up contraception at significantly higher rates than women who did not receive any counseling (HR: 3.4, p < .01 and HR: 2.5, p = .01, respectively). There was no difference between  women who received PPFP counseling only in ANC and women who did not receive counseling at all. Women who did not want the child at all took up contraception at significantly lower rates than women who wanted the child at that time (HR: 0.3, p = .04). Women who had four or more children took up contraception at significantly lower rates than woman with 1–3 children (HR: 0.3, p = .01). There were no significant differences by delivery location, exclusive breastfeeding, residence, or education.

Integration of postpartum family planning counseling into postnatal care services is an effective means to increase postpartum contraceptive uptake, but significant gaps in coverage, particularly in the delivery and postnatal period, remain.