14.7.2  Benefits of birth spacing

For maximum protection, women after childbirth should not wait until the return of monthly bleeding to start a contraceptive method, but start as soon as safe guidance for her chosen method allows. (Some basic principles of contraception after miscarriage or induced abortion are given in Study Session 20 of this Module. Detailed discussion of all contraceptive methods and guidelines are given in the Family Planning Module in this curriculum.)

Intervals of at least 2 years have health benefits for both the woman and baby (Box 14.1).

Box 14.1  Appropriate birth spacing lowers the risk of:

  • Maternal mortality
  • Fetal death (miscarriage or stillbirth), neonatal mortality
  • Anaemia in the mother during subsequent pregnancies
  • Postpartum inflammation of the endometrium lining the uterus
  • Premature rupture of the amniotic membranes surrounding the fetus
  • Premature birth
  • Intrauterine growth retardation and a low birth-weight baby
  • Malnutrition of newborns and infants due to insufficient breastmilk.

Coordinate your family planning visits with an infant’s immunization schedule. And remember that optimal breastfeeding offers triple value: important improvements in child survival and health, better health for mothers, and temporary contraception.

In the next study session, you will learn about the principles of effective counselling, so you can communicate the health promotion messages to pregnant women sensitively during antenatal care, and address their concerns and beliefs about pregnancy and childbirth.

14.7.1  Breastfeeding and contraception

Summary of Study Session 14