MCSP defines postpartum family planning (PPFP) as:

  • The initiation of a modern method of FP within the clinical postpartum period of six weeks; and
  • Extending that use for at least two years after a birth to ensure a healthy interpregnancy interval.

However, PPFP can also be adopted to limit future births, a recommendation that should be included when counseling high parity, older women. Moreover, the definition above carries programmatic implications: in order to initiate FP early enough to prevent an untimely, and likely unintended, pregnancy too soon, programs must use new strategies to reach women, and those strategies principally involve either community-based services and/or integration of facility-based services. MCSP is well positioned to support a number of strategies—from antenatal and postnatal care and day of birth initiatives, to strategies that reach women in the extended postpartum (such as those related to maternal, infant and young child nutrition, and immunization.

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Maternal mortality is lower among women who have fewer children, and maternal deaths increase with advanced maternal age; therefore, high-parity and older women are a particular focus. MCSP works to expand access to both postpartum and interval services for tubal ligation and no-scalpel vasectomy—as well as long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs)—to increase choice and allow for engagement with men, while reaching high-risk women who may be interested in spacing and limiting.

And while integrating postabortion care (PAC) services with maternal health services is not new, programs have been challenged to offer a full range of contraceptives, including LARCs, within their PAC services. MCSP supports country efforts to deliver and expand PPFP and PAC, and complementing PAC within basic emergency obstetric and newborn care trainings with additional support to provide LARC offers a cost-effective opportunity to maximize impact.

Community midwife in Afghanistan talks with mother (holding baby) about family planning

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