Immediate postnatal contraception: What women know and think

Annette Thwaites*, Louise Logan, Anthony Nardone, Sue Mann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction Postpartum women are at risk of rapid repeat, unplanned pregnancy with associated adverse outcomes for mother and child. We aimed to better understand their contraceptive needs to improve delivery of services and prevent unplanned pregnancies. Methods A cross-sectional survey of women on the postnatal ward of an inner-city hospital was administered over a 6-week period in June and July 2017 to determine their level of knowledge, intentions and preferences regarding postnatal contraception. Results 272 women were surveyed: 86% of all women on the postnatal ward during the study period. 10% (26/272) had never used any method of contraception previously and 22% (59/272) had ever used a long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) method. 18% (48/272) recalled a health professional speaking to them about contraception at any point during their pregnancy and 32% (87/272) said they needed more information to decide on their postnatal contraceptive method. 54% (147/272) of women did not think any LARC methods were safe immediately postnatally, rising to 71% (194/272) if breastfeeding. However, 47% (129/272) of women said that they would prefer to get their contraception from the ward before discharge and 46% (126/272) were likely to accept LARC, if safe, in this setting. Conclusions Almost half the women in our survey would welcome provision of postnatal contraception, including LARC, on the postnatal ward but the women surveyed currently lack the knowledge to make informed choices in this setting. There is therefore a need for effective, tailored contraceptive choices discussions with every woman during pregnancy, as well as integrated planning for postnatal provision of the woman's chosen method.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-117
Number of pages7
JournalBMJ Sexual and Reproductive Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was sponsored by Public Health England (PHE).

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright Crown 2019.

Copyright 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • breastfeeding
  • contraception
  • cross-sectional survey
  • long-acting reversible contraception
  • postnatal
  • postpartum


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