Analyzing disparities in postpartum care and contraception

A new study identifies disparities in the care and contraception that postpartum low-income women in California receive. The study analyzes claims data provided by Family PACT—California’s publicly funded family planning program—which has provided a wealth of other data previously analyzed by the Bixby Center.

Only roughly half of all mothers studied attended a postpartum visit or received any method of birth control following their childbirth. Furthermore, significant disparities in care exist along geographic and racial/ethnic lines. For example:

  • Black women were 25, 27 and 36 percent less likely to attend a postpartum visit, receive any birth control, or receive a highly effective method (such as an IUD or implant), respectively, compared to white women.
  • Women living in Primary Care Shortage Areas (PCSAs) were 24 percent less likely to receive a highly effective method, compared to women not living in PCSAs.

More analysis must be done to understand the reasons behind these disparities, which may include contraceptive preferences, lack of provider training or lack of access. Additionally, we must understand why half of all women failed to appear for any postpartum visit—despite being regularly connected to the health care system prior to and during their pregnancies.

Although women have unique preferences regarding postpartum care and contraception, we must ensure all women have equal access to the services they do want. Both are critical to a woman’s ability to care for herself and her baby, and to achieve her ideal family size at a safe pace.