Essential Knowledge

 Dr. Emmanual Otolorin, Jhpiego/Nigeria

Postpartum family planning (PPFP) as part of a comprehensive maternal, newborn and child health approach has the potential to systematically reach a large number of women with critical, life-saving informaiton and services. The Programming Strategies for Postpartum Family Planning* document highlights elements that should be considered when planning a postpartum family planning document. Created in collaboration with WHO and USAID, this document focuses on the rationale for PPFP, general considerations when designing a PPFP program, how to integrate PPFP along the continuum of care contact points, as well as monitoring and evaluation framework.

Preventing unintended pregnancies: Research has demonstrated that more than 90% of women during their first year postpartum either want to delay the next pregnancy for at least two years or avoid future pregnancies all together.  Preventing unintended pregnancies is an important strategy for reducing maternal mortality, as by preventing pregnancies, exposure to obstetric risk is also reduced. An estimated one fourth (25%) of maternal mortality could be prevented through preventing these pregnancies.

Promoting healthy pregnancy spacing:  Research findings demonstrate improved perinatal outcomes for infants born 36–59 months after a preceding birth. Experts made recommendations to the World Health Organization (WHO) to advise an interval of at least 24 months before couples attempt to become pregnant (birth-to-pregnancy interval) in order to reduce the risk of adverse maternal, perinatal and infant outcomes.  Yet, many pregnancies occur during the first and second year postpartum.

This section provides some the essential knowledge pertaining to postpartum family planning. Extensive literature reviews have been conducted in order to inform program design. Annual PPFP technical meetings have been held to share lessons learned and new areas of innovation in family planning.

*French and Spanish versions of Programming Strategies for Postpartum Family Planning available

For a step-by-step guide to help develop programming strategies for PPFP, see also PPFP Country Programming Strategies tools under the Advocacy section of this toolkit.