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Meeting the Needs of Postpartum Women With and Without a Recent Preterm Birth: Perceptions of Maternal Family Planning in Pediatrics

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Women face distinct barriers to meeting their reproductive health needs postpartum, especially women who deliver preterm. Pediatric encounters present unique opportunities to address women’s family planning, particularly within 18 months of a prior pregnancy, when pregnancy has an elevated risk of an adverse outcome, such as preterm birth. To ensure maternal family planning initiatives are designed in a patient-centered manner, we explored perspectives on addressing reproductive health in a pediatric setting among women with and without a recent preterm delivery.


We conducted semi-structured, qualitative interviews with 41 women (66% delivered preterm). Women who delivered at any gestational age were interviewed at a pediatric primary care clinic. We also interviewed women whose infants were either in a level II intensive care nursery or attending a high-risk infant follow-up clinic, all of whom had delivered preterm. Data were analyzed using team-based coding and theme analysis.


While women’s preferred timing and setting for addressing peripartum contraception varied, they largely considered pediatric settings to be an acceptable place to discuss family planning. A few women felt family planning fell outside of the pediatric scope or distracted from the child focus. Women discussed various barriers to accessing family planning care postpartum, including circumstances unique to women who delivered preterm.

Conclusions for Practice

Family planning interventions in pediatric settings were overall an acceptable approach to reducing barriers to care among our sample of women who predominantly delivered preterm. These exploratory findings justify further investigation to assess their generalizability and to develop maternal family planning interventions for pediatric settings.

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The authors wish to acknowledge contributions from Dr. Barry Zuckerman and Courtney Pedersen. This research was supported by the Academic Pediatric Association Resident Investigator Award and the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Community Benefits Grant.

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Correspondence to Jayme L. Congdon.

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Congdon, J.L., Trope, L.A., Bruce, J.S. et al. Meeting the Needs of Postpartum Women With and Without a Recent Preterm Birth: Perceptions of Maternal Family Planning in Pediatrics. Matern Child Health J 24, 378–388 (2020).

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  • Family planning
  • Contraception
  • Postpartum
  • Preterm birth
  • Pediatrics