Postpartum Fertility and Contraception: An Analysis of Findings from 17 Countries

Postpartum fertility and contraception are generally not well-understood by policymakers, health service providers or women themselves. Making use of existing Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data for women in the first year postpartum, descriptive country profiles for the extended postpartum family planning (PPFP) period have been developed for 17 countries in which the ACCESS-FP program has worked since October 2005.  These postpartum family planning profiles highlighted unmet need, short birth-to-birth intervals, timing of key factors related to fertility return, and the relation of family planning use and maternal health care, as well as method mix. These profiles soon demonstrated their usefulness by succinctly describing key issues and findings that have been used both in the initiation of program activities among stakeholder and in the development of provider and community training materials. This paper aggregates some of the most compelling findings from the country profiles. The objective of this paper is to provide a synthesis of the country findings as well as identify key patterns of behavior related to postpartum family planning.