Contraceptive decision-making is an inherently personal process that is influenced by a multitude of factors both internal and external to the patient. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recently reviewed these factors and recommended provision of contraceptive counseling in a manner that is patient centered and evidence based. Yet, although the document acknowledges that contraceptive “goals and needs change over time,” the existing literature has largely focused on contraceptive counseling and decision-making at one single point in time. However, major life events such as pregnancy can impact contraceptive choice. We sought to better understand the fluidity of contraceptive decision-making throughout pregnancy and the postpartum period.
This is a planned secondary analysis of a retrospective chart review of 8654 patients who delivered at or beyond 20 weeks of gestation at a single, urban, teaching hospital in Ohio, between January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2014. Although the primary analysis focused on fulfillment of the desired permanent contraception, data abstracted from all deliveries form the basis of this analysis. Planned postpartum contraceptive method was recorded at 4 points during the obstetrical period—last plan documented in outpatient prenatal care, inpatient admission before or at delivery, last plan documented before hospital discharge postpartum, and plan at the outpatient postpartum visit. We analyzed contraceptive methods within the Center for Disease Control and Prevention–defined tiers of efficacy including tier 1 (permanent and long-acting reversible contraception), tier 2 (short-acting reversible methods including injectables, pills, patch, and vaginal ring), tier 3 (barrier methods, fertility awareness, withdrawal, and abstinence), none, and missing.
A total of 12% of patients planned to use a contraceptive method postpartum with the same efficacy at each of these time points ( Figure ). Fewer patients desired highly effective methods of contraception at the time of outpatient postpartum visit when compared with the time of hospital discharge after delivery, although, overall, more patients wanted any contraceptive method at the postpartum visit than at other time points.