Family Planning and Contraception
Many women have at least one pregnancy in their lives, and about half of all pregnancies are not planned. Planning ahead can help you avoid getting pregnant when you donít want to be, and to be in good health if and when you do decide to become pregnant. Family planning leads to healthier pregnancies, moms, and babies.
There are a number of elements necessary for you to safely and successfully plan out when and how you will (or will not) have children, and you can talk to your midwife or other health care provider about all of them!
Whether to have children is a personal choice that only you can make.
Family planning means developing a reproductive life plan for yourself as you look ahead to having a family. Itís a set of goals about whether or not to have children, when you want to have children, and under what conditions you would like to have them. Your plan can change Ė in fact, it is a good idea to review your plan every year to make sure you are still on track with your goals as your life changes.
The first step is to decide if you want to have children. Although many people eventually want to have a family, not everyone wants to have children. More and more people are childfree by choice.
If you do want to have children, you may want to consider these questions:
If you do not want to have children, you may want to consider these questions:
After you consider these questions, consider your next steps with the help of your partner or support system, your family, and your midwife or other health care provider.
Natural family planning (or ďfertility awarenessĒ) are methods to avoid or achieve pregnancy without using hormones, chemicals, or barriers. There are lots of reasons to choose natural methods of family planning. You can stop anytime, there are no side effects, you donít have to rely on a health care provider for birth control, and natural family planning is accepted by all religions.
With perfect use, between 2 and 5 out of every 100 women per year will get pregnant using one of the natural family planning methods. With typical use, 24% of women experience unintentional pregnancy using a natural family planning method. You are more likely to have success with natural family planning if you are comfortable touching your body and you have a partner who also wants to use natural family planning. Stress, lifestyle, smoking, and health will all affect the monthly changes in your body.
There are a few different methods, and they all teach you how to track your own body through its monthly changes so you can better predict whether you are likely to get pregnant on a given day. Then, youíll know when to have sex if you want to get pregnant, or when to avoid it if you donít. Learn more about natural family planning here.
The signs used by most natural family planning methods are:
Some of the most well-known and widely-used methods are:
How much do you know about the different types of birth control you could use?
Despite the broad range of options available to women for contraception (also known as birth control), our survey of more than 1200 US women between ages 18 and 45 shows that women do not feel knowledgeable about most of these options and many have harmful misperceptions about their effectiveness. Our survey also found that many women donít feel they are able to have in-depth conversations with their health care providers to make well-informed decisions on contraception and family planning.
There are several categories of contraception that you can choose from:
Choosing the method of family planning thatís right for you can be complicated. Consider your health and other personal needs, when or if you want to get pregnant, and your partnerís needs and desires.
For example, if you want to get pregnant very soon, you may want to avoid hormonal birth control and consider fertility awareness instead, because it can take some time to get pregnant even after you stop using hormonal contraceptives. Or, if you never want to get pregnant, it is important to make sure you always use very effective birth control, such as an IUD or the birth control implant, or consider sterilization or your partner having a vasectomy.
Your midwife or other health care provider can help you choose the family planning method and/or prescribe you the method of birth control that's right for you, your partner, and your family.
The contents of this page have been developed and reviewed by certified nurse-midwives.