Majra, India—Seema Verma is on a mission. An auxiliary nurse-midwife at the Majra Urban Health Center in the hilly state of Uttarakhand, India, the 32-year-old mother of two daughters wants to help other women make an informed choice about family planning services just as she was able to do.
“I want to pass on the same hope and possibilities to other women in my community,” she says.
When she was pregnant for the second time and looking for a viable, long-term family planning method to limit future pregnancies, Seema received counseling by a visiting team from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s global flagship Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP).
The Majra facility is one of 20 heath care centers established in the urban slums of Uttarakhand by local nongovernmental organizations as part of a public-private partnership with the Uttarakhand government. MCHIP, which is providing technical assistance to the project, set up the family planning services as a part of an integrated program of maternal and child health and nutrition services for the urban poor. As part of its work, MCHIP, with the help of Jhpiego experts, is focused on ensuring quality family planning services at these urban health centers, as well as revitalizing postpartum family planning and postpartum intrauterine contraceptive device (IUCD) services in the state.
The team that counseled Seema explained the importance of using contraceptives after delivery to delay or prevent the next pregnancy, and told her about the copper-bearing IUCD, which can be inserted within 48 hours after delivery. The MCHIP team also informed her and the rest of the Majra staff about facilities where they had trained doctors to insert postpartum IUCDs. As a result of this counseling, Seema chose to deliver her baby at Women’s Hospital, Dehradun—an MCHIP intervention site—so that she could get an IUCD immediately after the birth of her daughter, Ritika, who is now three months old.
For Seema, an IUCD was the best family planning choice because it was free under government policy, lasts for 10 years and could be inserted while she was still in the hospital. Moreover, she appreciates that she doesn’t need to remember to take an oral pill every day.
“I got the IUCD inserted immediately after delivery of my second child and am leading a tension-free life. I know I can take good care of my husband and my children,” she said.
Seema was so enthusiastic about her family planning decision that while resting in the postpartum ward, she successfully counseled two other women who were sharing the room with her. They, too, chose to have an IUCD inserted.
Said one woman, named Sita, “I found the IUCD insertion hassle-free and quite painless. I’m now free from the burden of unwanted pregnancies. I can do my work well and focus on looking after my family.”
Seema not only feels strongly that other women in her community can benefit from this method of family planning, she is also optimistic that it offers a promising future for her own two daughters. One of four children in a poor family, Seema struggled to finish her schooling and became the most educated member of her family.
“I want my daughters to study more than me,” she said. “My husband and I want to work hard to make this possible.”