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Women's experiences of postpartum contraceptive services when elective caesarean section is the method of birth: a qualitative study.

BACKGROUND: The unmet need for postpartum contraception is a global challenge. Postpartum placement of an intrauterine device (IUD) within 48 hours of vaginal delivery is available in many settings worldwide, but is not routinely practised in Sweden. To improve contraceptive services and facilitate the informed choice of IUD placement at the time of a caesarean section (CS), we performed this study to identify and describe women's experiences of contraceptive services before, during and after an elective CS.

METHODS: A qualitative design and methodology was used. We interviewed 20 women aged 28-42 years who underwent elective CS in Sweden. Interviews were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis.

RESULTS: The three main themes found were (1) receptivity to contraceptive counselling in the context of CS, (2) communication and decision-making about postpartum contraception before CS and (3) lack of support and guidance to receive contraceptive services before and after CS. The participants described readiness and interest regarding postpartum contraception. They prefered counselling from around 25 weeks of gestation. Despite this finding, antenatal communication and contraceptive decision-making seemed rare. Participants reported a lack of support and guidance which necessitated a need by women to navigate the contraceptive services themselves in order to receive information about contraception before CS and to receive postpartum support.

CONCLUSIONS: Antenatal contraceptive counselling including information about IUD placement during CS was appreciated and welcomed by women with elective CS as their birth method. Most of the women whom we interviewed would prefer to receive contraception counselling on postpartum use during the second half of their pregnancy.

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