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Using contraceptives to delay first birth: a qualitative study of individual, community and health provider perceptions in southern Tanzania.

Sedekia, Y., Jones, C., Nathan, R., Schellenberg, J. and Marchant, T. (2017) Using contraceptives to delay first birth: a qualitative study of individual, community and health provider perceptions in southern Tanzania. BMC public health, 17 (1). p. 768. ISSN 1471-2458

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Young adolescents and unmarried women in low and middle income countries face challenges in accessing family planning services. One factor likely to limit contraceptive use is the attitude and opinion of local stakeholders such as community leaders and health workers. Much of the existing evidence on this topic focuses on women who have already started childbearing. Using primary qualitative data, we explored individual, community and health provider's perceptions about using modern contraceptives to delay the first birth in a high fertility setting. A descriptive qualitative study was conducted in Tandahimba district in southern Tanzania between December 2014 and March 2015. We conducted 8 focus group discussions with men and women and 25 in-depth interviews (18 with women, 4 with family planning service providers and 3 with district-level staff). Participants were purposively sampled. Data transcripts were managed and coded using Nvivo 11 software and we employed a thematic framework analysis. Three main themes emerged about using modern contraceptives to delay first birth: (1) the social and biological status of the woman (2) the type of contraceptive and (3) non-alignment among national policies for adolescents. Use of modern contraceptives to delay first birth was widely acceptable for women who were students, young, unmarried and women in unstable marriage. But long-acting reversible methods such as implants and intrauterine devices were perceived as inappropriate methods for delaying first birth, partly because of fears around delayed return to fecundity, discontinuation once woman's marital status changes and permanently limiting future fertility. The support for use of modern contraceptives to delay a first pregnancy was not unanimous. A small number of participants from both rural and urban areas did not approve the use of contraceptive methods before the birth of a first baby at all, not even for students. There was lack of clarity and consistency on the definition of 'young' and that had direct implications for access, autonomy in decision-making, confidentiality and consent for young people. Women who wish to delay their first birth face challenges related to restrictions by age and method imposed by stakeholders in accessing and provision of modern contraceptives. There is a need for a clearly communicated policy on minimum age and appropriate method choice for delayers of first birth.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Acceptability, Delayers of first birth, Family planning use, Maternal and child health, Modern contraceptives, Tanzania
Subjects: Maternal & Neonatal Health > Maternal Mortality & Morbidity
Sexual & Reproductive Health > Family Planning
Divisions: Ifakara Health Institute > Health Systems
Depositing User: Mr Joseph Madata
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2017 19:12
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2017 19:12

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