9. Use contraception: Preventing unplanned pregnancies protects future fertility. It avoids the risk associated with any pregnancy and the risk of unsafe abortion. Barrier contraceptive methods protect against HIV infection and STIs. Education programmes and social care systems should, from a young age, offer easy and accessible information on the many benefits of preventing, planning (and spacing) pregnancies. Safe contraceptive methods should be available to all sexually active women and men.
Maternal mortality would be significantly reduced if women did not die as a result of unintended pregnancies. Unwanted pregnancies can give rise to unsafe abortions and other pregnancy-related complications, which may compromise future fertility. Avoidance or delay of an unwanted pregnancy contributes to a healthier subsequent pregnancy, baby and mother.
Many educational initiatives have moved things forward although, to a certain extent, each reflects the culture in which it operates. Resources provided by such organisations as IPPF transcend geographical constraints. Recognition of the need for appropriate education is growing with the availability of publications such as “ Sexual and reproductive health needs of young people; Matching needs with systems.“ Clear clinical guidance on all contraceptive methods is available from the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. (www.fsrh.org)
Women should be educated in the hospital after delivery about the benefits of a longer interval between pregnancies and should have access to programmes that can help to ensure better contraception. For women who deliver at home this education and access to services can be provided when the baby is taken to a PCP for monitoring and follow up care.