Send to

Choose Destination
Contracept Reprod Med. 2018 Oct 17;3:22. doi: 10.1186/s40834-018-0075-8. eCollection 2018.

Family planning knowledge, experiences and reproductive desires among women who had experienced a poor obstetric outcome in Lilongwe Malawi: a qualitative study.

Bula A1, Kopp DM1,2,3, Maman S4, Chinula L1,2,3,5, Tsidya M1, Tang JH1,2,3,5.

Author information

UNC Project-Malawi, Private Bag A-104, Lilongwe, Malawi.
2UNC Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Chapel Hill, NC USA.
3Kamuzu Central Hospital, Lilongwe, Malawi.
4UNC Department of Health Behavior, Chapel Hill, NC USA.
5Malawi College of Medicine Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Blantyre, Malawi.



Perinatal mortality is unacceptably high in low-income countries, including Malawi. Use of family planning to encourage birth spacing may optimize outcomes for subsequent pregnancies. However, the reproductive desires and family planning knowledge of women who have experienced a stillbirth or neonatal death in resource-poor settings are not well understood.


We examined family planning knowledge, contraceptive practices and barrier to contraceptive use among women who had experienced a poor obstetric outcome at Bwaila Hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi. We performed individual in-depth interviews or through focus group discussion with women who had experienced a stillbirth or early neonatal death, 4-8 weeks after their delivery. NVivo software was used to analyze data for recurrent patterns and themes, and central ideas were extracted to identify the data's core meanings.


We interviewed 46 women who had experienced a poor obstetric outcome. Overall, women were aware of both modern and traditional family planning methods, and the majority were in favour of modern versus traditional methods. They also had knowledge about risks for future complications if they have a short inter-pregnancy interval. However, they faced conflict about whether to use family planning methods for their health, as suggested by their relatives and friends, or to have another child to fulfil their husband's desire, especially among those with no living child. Some had fear about side effects, while others were concerned that use of family planning methods without involving the husband could bring misunderstandings within the family. A number of women had misconceptions about family planning methods, which also served as a barrier to their use.


Although women with a poor obstetric outcome are aware of modern family planning and its health benefits after their delivery, their decision to use a method is complicated by their own desire to protect their own health and the husband's desire for a child, particularly among those women with no living children coupled with fear of side effects and misconceptions. These findings suggest the importance of counselling both the affected woman and her husband about the benefits of family planning use, even after a poor obstetric outcome, to jointly choose the method they feel comfortable to use and dispel any misconceptions.

Trial registration: NCT02674542.


Family planning; Malawi; Misconceptions; Neonatal death; Poor obstetric outcome; Reproductive desire; Stillbirth

Conflict of interest statement

Ethical approval was obtained from the National Health Sciences Research Committee of Malawi (Protocol #1354) and the University of North Carolina School of Medicine Institutional Review Board (#14-2677). Women gave written informed consent at the time of enrolment in the language of their choice (Chichewa or English).Not applicable.The authors declare that they have no competing interests.Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for BioMed Central Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center