Lesotho introduces family planning services with hospital delivery, to empower women

LERIBE DISTRICT, Lesotho — After giving birth to her fifth child, ‘Mathabo*, 33, and her husband decided to start using contraceptives a day after giving birth to avoid an unplanned pregnancy. While still in the hospital, she had Implanon, a contraceptive implant, inserted.

“My husband asked me to find a suitable method of family planning and that’s it. I will now be able to raise my children well, without fear of getting pregnant, and I will not have to take time off from work to go to school. to family planning services because the implant will last for three years,” she said.

She gave birth at Motebang hospital in Leribe district during the introduction of immediate postpartum family planning by the Ministry of Health, with the support of UNFPA, the United Nations agency for sexual and reproductive health.

Like ‘Mathabo, women who work in garment factories in Lesotho often lose their wages for the days they miss work, due to a “no work, no pay” policy in the factories. Visiting health centers for family planning services means a financial penalty they can barely afford.

“I will encourage others to use the implant as it is long-term, and also not to listen to those who give them false information,” ‘Mathabo said.

Long-term contraceptives save time and money

Thato* chose to have Implanon inserted after giving birth at Motebang Hospital. She was happy to save money by making fewer clinic visits for family planning services.

“I was using another family planning method, but as there was no more supply, I went without any contraceptives for six months. That’s when I got pregnant,” he said. she declared.

UNFPA is supporting Lesotho in introducing postpartum family planning, initiating and using family planning services immediately after childbirth and in the first 12 months after childbirth. The goal is to reduce maternal and child morbidity and mortality by preventing unplanned and unwanted pregnancies, and to reduce unmet need for family planning among postpartum women.

The intention is to strengthen family planning implementation and improve family planning indicators, create more opportunities for uptake of family planning methods before women leave the health facility , and sharpen the skills and competencies of service providers in family planning, said Motsoanku ‘Mefane, Sexual and Reproductive Health Officer at the Ministry of Health.

“We want to provide family planning services to them while they are still at the health facility after giving birth because they may face many different challenges that can [prevent] prevent them from returning to the facility for family planning after they leave,” she said.

Increase in the use of contraceptives

This initiative to provide modern contraceptive services as part of childbirth care is expected to increase contraceptive use, as well as reduce unintended and closely spaced pregnancies. It will also be beneficial for teenagers and young people. It was implemented in Qacha’s Nek and Mokhotlong last year, and in Butha-Buthe and Leribe districts in August this year.

According to ‘Makhauta Litaolana, a nurse working at the Adolescent Health Corner at Motebang Hospital, the introduction of postpartum family planning will help reduce unwanted pregnancies, which often lead to illegal abortions and risk related health issues, including deaths. Recent data obtained from a hospital, covering the first quarter of 2019, 2020 and 2022, showed that the percentage of obstetrics and gynecology admissions due to abortion was highest among adolescent girls aged 10-14. , at 36%.

During an orientation session on postpartum family planning, health workers from Butha-Buthe and Leribe hospitals received refresher training on modern contraceptives, to improve their knowledge and skills . One of the goals of postpartum family planning is to promote long-term, less-used family planning methods, such as intrauterine contraceptive devices (IUCDs), in order to increase their use.

*Names have been changed to protect confidentiality.

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