Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on postpartum contraception services in women delivering at a tertiary care centre in South India
Keywords:COVID-19, Contraception services, Postpartum, Challenges
Background: Contraception and sexual health are a fundamental human right and an integral part of women’s health services. Postpartum period is the unique opportunity for counselling and availing contraception. COVID-19 pandemic hindered routine and special services like postpartum clinics has negative impact on family planning services. Objectives were to assess the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on postpartum contraceptive care services received and to describe the challenges faced in availing these services among pregnant women delivering at a tertiary care centre in South India.
Methods: A descriptive study carried out in 422 women who had delivered at our hospital from July 2020 to October 2020. Data was collected in Epicollect version 5 and analysed using Stata version 14.2.
Results: A total of 422 women were interviewed. Only one-third of the participants received contraceptive counselling in the antenatal period compared to 90% postpartum. 39% (primiparous-34%/multiparous-5%) had adopted barrier methods followed by post-partum intrauterine uterine contraceptive devices in 33% (primiparous-19.6%/multiparous-13.4%) and 5% had sterilisation concurrent with caesarean section. Around 30-40% of women faced challenges in accessing the family planning methods due to closure of elective services like postpartum clinics, operation theatres, nationwide lockdown, and non-availability of field health workers.
Conclusions: Contraceptive choices for postpartum women appear to be largely restricted to temporary methods with additional challenges of availing these services during the pandemic. With the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and continuous need for contraception, there is a need to refocus and motivate eligible couples for long-acting reversible contraceptive methods (LARC) with significantly lower failure rates.
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