WHY YOU NEED TO TAKE FAMILY PLANNING INTO YOUR OWN HANDS
By Sumitra Nair
Family planning is a delicate topic, especially when it concerns a woman. After all, it is a woman who undergoes physical and emotional changes during and after pregnancy. But unfortunately, in a culture like ours, where family and society gets (or rather wants) a say in everything, couples often find themselves confused, leading them to having a baby in haste, which may or may not work in their favour. But you don’t have to be one of those. Here are ways in which you can take charge of family planning in your marriage.
Pregnancy brings in many physical and emotional changes – an uncontrollable bladder, weight gain, sensitive breasts, swollen feet and mood swings are just a few of them. Yet often you have other people deciding that you should go through all of this, instead of you.
What is more alarming is that, most of us are aware only of the barrier method or the condom method to avoid pregnancies. Amongst many families, men still do not take responsibility for contraception and then the wife has no choice to pop a pill within 24 hours. According to WHO Global Health Statistics 2012, only 56% use contraception and most couples do not opt for long-term contraception like IUDs for the fear of side effects.
“Lack of awareness, is a root cause for couples not opting for different methods of contraception,” says Dr Anita Soni, full-time consultant gynaecologist, LH Hiranandani hospital, Mumbai. “Condoms and low dosage hormonal pills are temporary solutions,” she adds. The choice of contraception depends on the age of a woman and her parity, she adds. This means a 25-year-old who has two children and doesn’t wish to expand her family anymore can opt for an IUD (Intra uterine device) like a Copper T to prevent pregnancy. “The Copper T again comes with three options – one which can be inserted for three years, five years or ten years,” Dr Soni explains. On the other hand, a woman above the age of 30 who still wants to have a baby at her own time can opt for other temporary methods like spermicidal jellies or foams.
“It is important that a couple is comfortable and ready to have a baby. You need to evaluate what you will be getting into mentally and physically. And while both sides of family might want to have a say on it, substantial proof like a prescription for oral contraceptives can help your elders understand about the methods you are adopting,” says Mumbai-based psychologist, Jenisha Shah.
However, she advises drawing lines on how much either of the parents have a say in these matters early in the marriage. And for that she recommends pre-marital counselling. “Important decisions that can affect formation of a child like – the mother’s decision to work or not, kind of schooling and imparting values are a major factor too,” Shah adds.
Shah also feels that visiting a gynaecologist right from the early stages of family planning will go a long way in helping you decide if you would rather go for a hormonal patch, an IUD or sterilisation of either partners.
“It is advisable not to have the second child within a year of your first baby, even if your elders insist on getting it done with. You are bound to be exhausted and would want some quality time with your spouse. So the best thing to do would be to talk to your spouse about it and inform the family that it is a joint decision,” she suggests.
You may find babies adorable and may not mind babysitting your niece or nephew. But raising a kid on your own is a different ball game altogether. And no one can decide if you’re ready or not, except you. So, take the power in your hands, enlighten yourself and make the right decision.
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