A poll commissioned by Marie Stopes International Australia, a sexual and reproductive health service, has found that 35% of the country's women did not consider using contraception until three months after the birth of their child, despite the majority having resumed intercourse before this time.
The poll surveyed over 900 women aged between 19 and 44 who had children under the age of 5. The results found that inconsistent contraception use was a key factor in "rapid repeat" pregnancy.
About 150 of the respondents were first-time mothers, of which only 30% resumed sexual intercourse within three months of giving birth, without using contraception. One-third of the younger mothers were pregnant again within two years.
Experts warn that new mothers should remember contraceptives, as they can already become pregnant while still breastfeeding. Jill Michelson, the Australian Clinical Advisor to Marie Stopes International, reported many women in the agency's centres who have become pregnant immediately after giving birth.
Ms. Michelson emphasises the importance of women speaking to their doctors about contraceptive options as soon as they resume sexual intercourse. This is especially true for "time-poor mothers, [who] need convenient ways to manage family spacing".
There are a number of contraceptive options for women who have just given birth. Long-acting contraceptives include hormonal interuterine systems (IUS), long-term implants and injections and progestogen-only methods such as the mini-pill. These are all suitable for mothers who are breastfeeding.