If someone asked you what you will be doing in 5 years could you answer? What about 1 year, or 1 month? I’m not sure I could. I’m happy if I can remember what I’m doing 5 days from now and whether or not I’ll need a backup plan for childcare or dinner.
I was recently privileged to participate in an initiative to increase access to long-acting, reversible contraception (LARC) in my state. These products provide extremely effective contraception for an extended period of time after placement and rely on little to no effort on the part of the patient. Almost half of pregnancies in the United States are unplanned. Half. 3.2 million pregnancies where one or both partners didn’t intend to become pregnant. For some of these women and their families another pregnancy may have a lot of unintended consequences such as economic instability or a need for new housing. By using these LARC products we can reduce the unintended pregnancy rate. Each of these methods has less than a 1% pregnancy rate per year (some as low as 0.05% per year). Many of them are also safe for women who are otherwise not able to use forms of hormonal birth control.
I have previously revealed my feelings about having another baby in the blog post “when are you going to…” and it has not changed. So. Many. Tears. In fact a colleague and I were in the surgeons lounge this week waiting to operate and literally laughing about the disaster that would be us as old ladies having babies. But reducing the unintended pregnancy rate isn’t just for the “old lady gynecologists” but has a real impact on the health of our nation. Appropriate spacing of pregnancies reduces the likelihood of preterm birth and low birth weight babies. In addition, women who have planned pregnancies are generally more likely to enter pregnancy having attempted to improve their health by doing such things as quitting smoking or avoiding alcohol and taking a prenatal vitamin.
So what’s your plan? I had someone recently ask me if they thought having kids was a good idea. My answer? “Depends on how many of my kids are having meltdowns when you ask me.” My current plan involves no more diapers, no more daycare, and enduring 5th grade social studies homework and kindergarten readers. Think about your five year plan and talk to your doctor.