India Toolkit: Services & Supply
Increased Postpartum Family Planning Services Results In Improved Maternal And Child Health
Purpose: Facility-based childbirth services offer an ideal opportunity to reach women and their partners with family planning (FP) information and services. Postpartum Family Planning (PPFP) thus has an important role to play in strategies to reduce the unmet need for FP. This tool coaches on the implementation of PPFP services for offering family planning basket of choice, including long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) and spacing methods, at urban primary health center (UPHCs), other higher order public facilities and private sector health facilities.
- General Manager (GM) FP and Urban
- Joint Director/Additional Director (JD/AD)
- Chief Medical Officers (CMO)/Additional Chief Medical Officer (ACMO)
- Chief Medical Superintendents (CMS)
- Divisional Urban Health Consultant (DUHC)/Nodal Officers – Urban Health and Family Planning/District Program Manager (DPM)/Urban Health Coordinator (UHC)
- Medical Officer In-Charge/Medical Officers (MOICs/MOs)/Persons In-Charge of Private Facilities/Staff Nurse-In-Charge District Hospital
- District facility Counsellor
Background: Evidence suggests that 61% of women do not use effective contraception within 24 months postpartum to avoid an unintended pregnancy. Because unintended and closely spaced births are associated with increased maternal, newborn and child morbidity and mortality, postpartum women are among those with the greatest unmet need for FP. However, providers, women and their support networks cite concerns about contraceptive side effects, especially related to effects of hormonal contraceptives on breast milk and the child’s health as reasons to avoid contraception during the postpartum period.
It is, therefore, critical to address this grave public health concern so that PPFP can help women decide which contraceptive they want to use, initiate that contraceptive and continue its use for two years or longer, depending on the reproductive intentions of the woman or couple.
Evidence of Impact
Investing in family planning reduces the maternal mortality rate (MMR) by 30% and the postpartum period is the most opportune time when a woman is actively seeking family planning to avoid a quick and unwanted pregnancy. TCI India conducted whole-site orientation (WSO) efforts through master coachees, the Chief Medical Superintendents’ (CMS) of the district women’s hospitals who oriented all facility staff on the family planning basket of choice methods and also became intentional on tapping PPFP. They started reviewing and seeking periodic reports on total delivery load and PPFP acceptors from the district women’s hospital (DWH) counsellor and ensured timely and correct reporting over HMIS. With these efforts, the government witnessed a 39% increase in total PPFP acceptors from the previous year ending in June 2021 (33,613 in June 2021 and 46,762 in February 2022), from the total delivery load.
Guidance on Implementing PPFP
PPFP should not be considered a “vertical” program in isolation. Rather, it should be integrated with existing maternal and child health and family planning programming efforts. A successful PPFP implementation strategy keeps people at the center of health care. Listed below are steps to implement an effective PPFP strategy:
Step 1: Understand the Health System and Current Government Policies
As a first step, devise a clear understanding of how the health system is organized and identify existing gaps and opportunities for offering FP to postpartum women. Understand which providers at what levels of facilities can provide PPFP and make sure to review all existing policies that are relevant to PPFP.
Step 2: Make PPFP Data Visible by Estimating the Unmet Need for FP Based on Available Data
To amplify how health systems must focus on and prioritize PPFP. Data from district facilities – such as reported delivery caseload vs. reported family planning uptake – should be analyzed and discussed with Chief Medical Superintendents (CMS) and then at other appropriate city- and state-level FP monitoring meetings. FP uptake data disaggregated by age, parity and method choice is critical for a city to plan its PPFP strategy to reach women with unmet need for FP.
Step 3: Integrate PPFP across Contact Points
Design PPFP interventions to reach women at an opportune time when they come in contact with the health system. This includes:
- Antenatal care (ANC)
- Labor and delivery, including pre-discharge
- Postnatal care (PNC)
- Immunization and child health care visits
Step 4: Ensure Facility-based Counseling and Intrapartum Services
At all the contact points listed in step 3, the MOIC, CMS, facility-in-charge of private facilities should ensure counseling and services for PPFP. They should emphasize that counseling include the expanded choice of FP methods, including LARCs. They should assign responsibilities to ensure that commodities, supplies, equipment, human resource, requisite reporting forms and information, education and communication (IEC) materials are available for PPFP counseling.
Step 5: Strengthen Human Resource Capacity
Strengthen policies and practices to address staff development and retention to ensure that providers with PPFP skills are available within ANC, labour and delivery and PNC. This includes:
- Introducing and strengthening a comprehensive RH education curriculum that addresses safe motherhood, family planning, and neonatal and child health training issues.
- Integrating PPFP within pre-service education and ensuring that PPFP and healthy timing and spacing (HTSP) are well-covered in teaching curricula, practical training and examinations.
- Dispatching mobile outreach teams (while linking referrals to a static facility) to facilities in the short term to provide services while building staff capacity for the long term.
- Focusing on community-based PPFP interventions, including EBF, LAM, pills, injectable and condoms, while addressing provider capacity needs at the facility level
Step 6: Ensure Adequate Trained Staff, Equipment and Supplies, and If Possible, Ensure their Availability 24 Hours a Day, 7 Days a Week
The Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) scheme has resulted in an increased number of institutional deliveries at facilities across India. This has provided the opportunity to provide long acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) such as PPIUCD to women who desire to use these methods. However, many of these opportunities are missed because providers in the facilities lack the necessary skills to provide immediate postpartum IUCD insertion. Training a core group of providers at the district women’s hospital and in medical colleges can create the necessary technical capacity among nurses and other doctors to provide this service. Funding is available through the Program Implementation Plan (PIP) to train doctors and nurses from each public facility conducting deliveries.
Wherever feasible, ensure systematic 24/7 PPFP counseling through PPFP-trained providers and their availability during odd hours and on weekends. In addition, CMS should conduct whole-site orientations to ensure that staff nurses, traditional health workers or dais, janitors and cleaning staff are properly trained to support PPFP. In addition, preposition supplies and organize client flow through labor, delivery and postnatal wards to identify appropriate space for counseling. For more details, please refer to these whole-site orientation training guidelines.
Step 7: Ensure Clinical Safety for the Desired Method
An important consideration when planning a PPFP intervention is clinical safety, that is, which methods can be used at what point in time following birth and given the mother’s breastfeeding status.
According to WHO Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptive Use (2015), women can safely use contraceptive implants alongside most of the other contraceptive options in the immediate postpartum period. This is further broken down for breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding women.
- FP options for breastfeeding women: Intrauterine devices (IUD), implants, progestogen-only pills, lactational amenorrhea method (LAM), condoms, male sterilization and female sterilization.
- FP options for non-breastfeeding women: IUDs, implants, injectables, condoms, emergency contraception, combined oral contraceptives (commence 21 days after delivery), male sterilization and female sterilization.
Step 8: Mobilize the Community
- Orient Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) on PPFP, including messages on healthy timing and spacing of pregnancy (HTSP), exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) and LAM with referral for other FP methods as a routine part of care.
- ASHAs should promote early PNC visits for home births to provide essential newborn care and EBF/LAM.
- Focus on LAM as a gateway method to the use of other modern contraceptives.
- Discuss women’s reproductive intentions for spacing or limiting and provide information on contraceptive methods and where to get them.
- Use community-based integrated MNCH/FP services
Step 9: Update National Service Delivery Guidelines and Clarify the Role of Service Providers
This is particularly critical if existing guidelines reflect delayed start of progestin-only methods, like implants, which are now an option for immediate PPFP use according to WHO’s 2015 Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptive Use (5th edition). Guidelines as well as job descriptions should clearly articulate that all antenatal and maternity care providers have a role in PPFP, and that it is not just the responsibility of a few trained providers. The role of community health workers in promoting PPFP can also be specified.
Roles and Responsibilities
|GM FP and Urban||
|CMS/ MOIC/Facility In-Charge (in the case of private facilities)||
|Nodal Officer – Urban Health and FP/DUHC/DPM/UHC||
Staff Nurse/Facility Counsellor
Community Health Worker (ANMs, ASHAs, etc.)
Monitoring PPFP Services
PPFP counselling and services can be monitored by including this as a regular agenda item for discussion in the meetings convened by the CMS and CMO. The following indicators should be reviewed:
- # of facilities providing PPFP
- # of service providers capacity built (trained) on PPFP
- Number/percentage of ANC clients who received information and counselling regarding PPFP
- Number/percentage of ANC clients who have chosen a FP method in the postpartum period, and mark it on their ANC card/client card
- Proportion of women who select a method during ANC and receive it prior to discharge
- Proportion of maternity clients who request a method during early labor or pre-discharge counselling and receive their desired method before leaving the facility
- Number of FP clients served through PPFP, and their method-mix distribution
- Percentage of FP clients served through PPFP vis-a-vis total FP clients served, by method and by month
- Client-provider ratio for sterilization (to ensure that client safety and quality of care is not compromised)
Further, spot checks from client records and exit interviews by the CMS/CMO/ACMO-Nodal/DUHC/UHC and by in-charge of private facility to identify the reasons for which women who did not chose a family planning method post-delivery can provide important information on quality of care and provider-driven barriers to services.
For data quality purposes, it is recommended to maintain separate records for PPFP services. A summary of uptake of PPFP services vis-à-vis delivery case load must be maintained in the routine FP register.
The elements required for PPFP are mentioned below along with their PIP codes for easy reference. They may be covered under existing budget line items (Refer to Financial Management Report (FMR) codes of PIP of 2016-2017, NHM-UP), but if not, they should be incorporated through the Program Implementation Plan (PIP) process. Any additional support can also be sought from the flexi-pool. Specific costs include the following:
|Counselor hiring||HSS.9.184.C.S0522||ROP UP 2017-18, NHM-UP|
|ROP UP 2017-18, NHM-UP|
|FP Corner||ROP UP 2017-18, NHM-UP|
|Incentives Sterilization, PPIUCD||ROP UP 2017-18, NHM-UP|
|Performance-based incentives for providers||HSS(U).5.143. OOC.1||ROP UP 2017-18, NHM-UP|
|Performance-based incentives for counsellors||HSS(U).5.143.OOC.3||ROP UP 2017-18, NHM-UP|
Compensation to client on PPFST
||ROP UP 2017-18, NHM-UP|
|Incentive to clients on PPIUCD||6.44.DBT.2||ROP UP 2017-18, NHM-UP|
|ASHA incentive towards motivating PPIUCD client||6.44. ASHA.1||ROP UP 2017-18, NHM-UP|
This table is indicative and illustrates the manner in which cost elements are provisioned in a government PIP, thus giving guidance to the audience on where to look for elements related to a particular task.
Sustainability of PPFP can be achieved through the following measures:
- Providing family planning counseling and offering modern contraception as part of childbirth services and prior to maternity discharge increases postpartum contraceptive use.
- Understanding barriers to PPFP uptake and tailoring programmatic approaches to address those barriers can improve uptake.
- Consider home visits for covering PPFP adoption among home births and first-time, young parents.
- Consider leveraging antenatal care visits to educate clients on contraception. Doing so allows women to fully explore their intentions and to make an informed decision about contraception before delivery. Counseling earlier during a pregnancy may be particularly helpful if introducing IUD or sterilization as women often need more time to consider and discuss these options with their partners.
- Male involvement during and after pregnancy can reduce the occurrence of postpartum depression and improve use of maternal health services, such as skilled birth attendance and postnatal care. Providing men and women the opportunity to engage in family planning discussions as part of maternity care – together or separately – can directly address these inequitable norms and create space for joint decision-making for effective use of family planning.
- Ensure that providers have the skills and knowledge to provide all methods. Ensure periodic refresher training of service providers on method techniques.
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