For community-based programs, the need to integrate postpartum family planning (PPFP) information and services into other maternal, newborn, and child health services is compelling. A recent review of Demographic and Health Surveys indicated that 50% of all births occur outside of health instititutions,5 and of those, 70% receive no postpartum care. As a result, these women have limited opportunities to receive family planning (FP) information or services.
Community involvement is key to increasing women’s access to FP in underserved areas. It can involve training community health workers (CHWs) on PPFP, the Lactational Amenorrhea Method, and the benefits of healthy spacing of pregnancies. In addition to counseling, CHWs may also provide commodities and refer clients.
Community leaders are also trained to explain the benefits of healthy spacing of pregnancies to mothers and their children, and that couples can achieve these health benefits through use of FP. In this context, FP is more culturally acceptable and easier for community members to understand. For instance, religious leaders may identify passages in religious texts that promote couples to wait until their child is walking or no longer breastfeeding before they conceive again.
Work is often done through community action groups with both men and women to promote healthy spacing of pregnancies through FP before couples conceive again. Community members are encouraged to actively find solutions to their own health problems.
5 Fort, Alfredo, Monica Kothari, and Noureddine Abderrahim, 2006. Postpartum Care: Levels and Determinants in Developing countries. Calverton, MD, USA. Macro International, Inc.