This post originally appeared as part of Women Deliver’s Celebrate Solutions series.
As part of an exciting family planning grant from the Packard Foundation, Jacaranda Health and maternal health advocacy organization, Women Deliver, are partnering to advocate for expanded family planning in Kenya. In June’s ‘Celebrate Solutions’ columns, Women Deliver is highlighting Jacaranda Health’s efforts to change the way family planning decision-making happens in the postpartum period among low-income women in Kenya.
Everyone said she could not become pregnant while breastfeeding. This is what Wanjiru*, a new mother, told a nurse midwife at Jacaranda Health’s Ruiru maternity hospital. When she became pregnant just 3 months after the birth of her first baby, she felt lied to. Family planning use in the first year after childbirth – known as the postpartum period – is both essential and rare in Kenya. At Jacaranda Health, the aim is to make family planning acceptable and convenient for new mothers and their families in a setting where 90 percent of women are not using postpartum family planning at all or until after they are already at risk of pregnancy.
Jacaranda Health provides care to thousands of pregnant low- and middle-income women and their newborns in and around Nairobi, Kenya. Many Kenyan mothers are shocked by how soon after delivery a woman can become pregnant again. When Wanjiru came to Jacaranda during her second pregnancy, she received family planning counseling – including correct information about how to use breastfeeding as an effective contraceptive method – beginning at her first antenatal visit and continuing until she chose a family planning method 6 weeks after her delivery.
It can be extremely serious for the health of both mother and baby if a woman gets pregnant too soon after giving birth. Spacing childbirth and subsequent pregnancy by at least 2 years – a practice called healthy birth spacing – has the potential to reduce maternal mortality globally by more than 30 percent and prevent 10 percent of all child deaths. Postpartum family planning is the best tool to ensure that families space their pregnancies healthily.
Read the rest at Women Deliver.