Typically, doctors tell their patients they can return to contraception devices like IUDs six weeks after giving birth, even though statistically, half of new moms have already started getting busy again before that. However, a new study that was just published on Monday in Obstetrics and Gynecology begs to differ with this advice.
The study focused on women who gave birth via cesareans, and thus could have an IUD implanted during the procedure with minimal complications. The researchers gave IUDs to 112 women who were giving birth at North Carolina Women’s Hospital in Chapel Hill (and, of course, wanted them). The trial randomly chose who would receive one while undergoing their cesarean, and who would receive it six weeks later at their postpartum gynecologist visit.
The findings were pretty interesting. Of the women who had one implanted during their cesareans, 83 percent were still using it six months after giving birth, compared to just 64 percent who had one implanted six weeks postpartum. Moreover, 25 percent of the women who were offered their free IUD at that six-week postpartum doctor's appointment never even showed up.
It makes sense when you think about it. You just underwent an uncomfortable, life-altering procedure six weeks previously and now you're being asked to undergo another uncomfortable procedure — this time with an infant in tow. I'd probably dodge my OB-GYN too, or just totally forget I had the appointment with all the not sleeping, breastfeeding and child caring I'd be doing.
You might be wondering, "Well that's all fine and dandy for those lucky C-section moms, but what about the women who go through natural childbirth?" According to The New York Times, those studies were actually done long before this new cesarean-focused one. One recently done on immediate IUD placement after vaginal birth found that it prevented 88 percent of unintended pregnancies in every 1,000 women over a two-year period.
However, that doesn't mean there aren't mishaps. While most studies conclude that immediate insertion of an IUD after vaginal birth is totally safe, women can lose them if they're placed that early. Those who receive them during their cesareans lose them much less frequently — only eight percent reportedly did during this new trial. But again, that's four times more than the women who had one placed six weeks down the line. Still, despite the "mishaps," 20 percent more of the women who had them placed during their cesareans rather than at their six-week doctor's visit still had them six months later.
Sounds like a pretty great option, right? Especially considering how low maintenance IUDs are versus other birth control methods. However, the obstacle now (like always) is private insurance companies refusing to reimburse hospitals for placing the IUD during or just after delivery. Twelve states are amending their Medicaid policies to allow for hospital reimbursement for these procedures though. And now that this study shows it's a safe and effective birth control option, hopefully private insurance companies will realize they have to jump on the bandwagon to satisfy their female members.
Immediate IUD insertion has the potential to significantly lower the number of unintended post-birth pregnancies and subsequent birth complications that often arise because of them. Now that several studies have proven their effectiveness, women should feel great about yelling at their health insurance about it.
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