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Trends in the Uptake of Post-Partum Family Planning

The post-partum period, or the year following the birth of a child, represents a significant opportunity for reaching women with effective family planning, reducing the likelihood of unintended pregnancy and increasing the likelihood of healthy birth spacing. During pregnancy and childbirth, as well as during the year following childbirth, women are more likely to engage with the healthcare system during antenatal care, delivery, postnatal care, and first year infant immunizations. Each of these encounters is an opportunity for health care workers to integrate family planning into their existing counseling and services to better meet the needs of post-partum women. For example, the WHO recommends that all post-partum women receive a post-natal visit at 6 weeks. This visit represents an opportunity to assess women’s return to fertility, counsel them on their contraceptive options, and provide a contraceptive method. At this time, post-partum women are eligible for all modern methods of contraception (except combined pills for women who are breastfeeding).1

Analysis of DHS data from 27 countries found that across nearly all of the sampled countries, as many as 9 in 10 post-partum women wanted to delay their next pregnancy for at least 2 years.2 This desire is consistent with WHO recommendations of an interval of at least 24 months between delivery and attempting the next pregnancy to reduce negative health outcomes for women and their infants. However, this same analysis found that among post-partum women there is substantial unmet need for family planning, with an average of 65% of women across the countries analyzed citing a desire to delay or avoid another pregnancy but not using contraception.3 As return to fertility and sexual activity vary widely by individual and country context, providing all post-partum women with access to family planning in the weeks and months immediately following delivery is essential to ensuring they are able to avoid unintended pregnancy and achieve their fertility desires.

Track20 analyzed DHS data from 36 FP2020 countries to assess the timing of uptake of family planning over the first year following delivery. The analysis uses data from 36 DHS surveys conducted from 2002 to 2016. Building on the methodology used by Winfrey and Borda (using DHS Calendar data), we looked at modern contraceptive use by months since delivery, in the year following delivery and using the DHS definition of modern contraceptive methods. This analysis aims to look at levels of post-partum contraceptive use among post-partum women over the first year post-partum; see our ‘Opportunities for Growth” section of the website for analysis the looks at the potential of PPFP interventions to increase national level contraceptive use by looking at post-partum non-users as a proportion of all women in each country.

Here we present some overall results. Use the tool below to explore country level results by region. Among women at one month post-partum, the unweighted average modern contraceptive prevalence was 8%, ranging from 0% in Burkina Faso to 44% in Zimbabwe. By the 12th month post-partum that unweighted average increases to 30%, ranging from 6% in Benin to 72% in Indonesia.


On average, the largest increase in prevalence occurs between 1 and 2 months post-partum (an average of 8% pts or an increase of 97%). The most rapid growth in prevalence is seen in Egypt, where post-partum contraceptive use increases from 5% to 62% between 1 and 2 months post-partum. In half of the sampled countries, the largest increase in utilization of post-partum family planning occurred between 1 and 2 months post-partum.


The increase in modern contraceptive prevalence between 1 and 2 months seen in many of the analyzed countries may indicate contexts where the WHO recommended 6-week visit is being utilized to counsel on and deliver post-partum contraceptives.

Use the dropdown list below to review these trends in post-partum family planning uptake by region:





  1. Report of a WHO Technical Consultation on Birth Spacing
  2. Contraceptive Use, Intention to Use and Unmet Need During the Extended Postpartum Period
  3. Programming strategies for Postpartum Family Planning
Published July 2017  

Assessing Opportunities in Post Partum Family Planning

When thinking about the potential impact of scaling up PPFP interventions on national levels of contraceptive use, it is important to take several factors into consideration: what proportion of women in the country are post-partum in any given year and what baseline PPFP uptake looks like in the country. Places where a large proportion, or absolute number, of women of reproductive age area estimated to be post-partum and not using modern contraception present the largest opportunities for investments in PPFP to lead to growth in mCPR or modern users.

To learn more about levels of PPFPP uptake in countries, and see how this differs based on if women deliver at home or in a facility, visit our special analysis section on Post-Partum Family Planning.

Percent of all women of reproductive age who are post-partum, by PPFP use

In this graph, the total height of the bar shows the proportion of all women of reproductive age in the country who are post-partum.1 The bar is then segmented by use of a PPFP method—overall, or, if you select the option below, you can split this based on where women deliver2. In countries where there is a large segment of post-partum non-modern users who delivered at home, community-based interventions may need to be prioritized, as these women could not be reached through facility-based PPFP integration.

Countries have been organized from largest to smallest % of WRA who are post-partum and not using modern FP. Those countries where post-partum non-users are a large proportion of the WRA offer the greatest potential impact on mCPR by doing PPFP interventions. However, country context must be taken into consideration- increasing PPFP uptake may be harder in some settings than others. In addition, we would never expect PPFP uptake to each 100%- based on existing data, the highest uptake is in Indonesia, which reaches about 70%. Therefore, not all the ‘non-users’ shown in the graph below have the potential to become users.

1This is calculated using UNPD WPP (2015 Revision) projections, as the number of births in 2016 divided by the total number of women of reproductive age in 2016, as a proxy for the % of WRA who will give birth in the year.

2This has been done based on secondary analysis of the latest DHS or MICS survey in each country (see sources tab)- for countries with a calendar this shows modern PPFP uptake at 6 months, for countries without a calendar, this shows the % of women who delivered in the last 6 months who are currently using a modern method.

Number of women of reproductive age who are post-partum, by PPFP use

In this graph, the total height of the bar shows number of women of reproductive age in the country who are post-partum.1 The bar is then segmented by use of a PPFP method—overall, or, if you select the option below, you can split this based on where women deliver2. In countries where there is a large segment of post-partum non-modern users who delivered at home, community-based interventions may need to be prioritized, as these women could not be reached through facility-based PPFP integration.

Countries have been organized from largest to smallest number of WRA who are post-partum and not using modern FP. Those countries where there are the largest absolute number of post-partum non-users offer the greatest potential impact on increasing modern contraceptive users by doing PPFP interventions. However, country context must be taken into consideration- increasing PPFP uptake may be harder in some settings than others. In addition, we would never expect PPFP uptake to each 100%- based on existing data, the highest uptake is in Indonesia, which reaches about 70%. Therefore, not all the ‘non-users’ shown in the graph below have the potential to become users.

1This is calculated using UNPD WPP (2015 Revision) projections, as the number of births in 2016, as a proxy for the # of WRA who will give birth (and thus be post-partum) in the year.

2This has been done based on secondary analysis of the latest DHS or MICS survey in each country (see sources tab)- for countries with a calendar this shows modern PPFP uptake at 6 months, for countries without a calendar, this shows the % of women who delivered in the last 6 months who are currently using a modern method.

Published July 2017