The furthest thing from your mind in the delivery room? Delivering yet another baby.
To help new moms take charge of their family planning, some insurance plans are covering birth control implants like IUDs immediately after birth. Because of expanding Medicaid coverage nationwide, the service has jumped from being available in zero states to 19 states in just three years.
Still, availability was only part of the reason IUDs were rather inaccessible. Other issues? Discomfort and actually getting around to scheduling the appointment. But a new study out of Stanford University is making implantation easy and painless, testing the use of a long tube of silicone and plastic to insert an IUD into the top portion of the uterus instead of forceps or a doctor's hands.
Lead study author Paul Blumenthal, MD, says the immediate postpartum period is the ideal time for inserting an IUD because the cervix is still open, meaning less discomfort for the new mom. And the applicator materials pose less of a risk of infection compared to traditional insertion tools.
Why is the immediate availability of birth control so important? A University of Michigan Health Systems study found 40 to 60 percent of low-income moms who indicated they'd like some sort of birth control implant do not make the necessary follow-up appointment after having a baby, usually because of economic barriers like childcare and transportation.
"Postpartum women have a high risk of unintended pregnancy, partly because less than 10 percent use the most effective forms of contraception," lead author Michelle Moniz, MD, MSc, says. "Many women's first choice for birth control is an IUD or implant, which we know are the safest and most effective forms of reversible contraception. The problem is that many postpartum women can't make it back to the office for an appointment to get one. Our findings suggest that more and more agencies recognize significant benefits to providing this service before women even leave the hospital."
This service is a more flexible and less permanent alternative to what many insurance policies already cover immediately following birth: having your fallopian tubes tied.
And because of the risks associated with having an unintended second child too close to your first (higher rates of miscarriage, preterm labor and stillbirth), this IUD service is also an important advancement for both mom and baby's health.