Objective: To assess patterns and predictors of reliable and unreliable contraceptive use among adolescent mothers in the first 6 months following delivery.
Methods: We surveyed 462 women, 18 years of age or younger, at delivery and again at 6 months postpartum. Contraceptive behaviors were evaluated among the 359 adolescents who stated they were sexually active and not trying to conceive.
Results: Method discontinuation and switching were common during the 6-month interval. Only 100 of 189 adolescents (53%) initially prescribed oral contraceptives were still using this method 6 months after delivery; ten of these 100 stated that they had missed at least three pills in the last cycle. Twelve (10%) of the 115 adolescents who initiated depot-medroxyprogesterone acetate failed to obtain a second injection within 4 months of the initial injection or use an alternative method. In contrast nine of the ten women who received levonorgestrel implants were still using this method 6 months after delivery. Overall, 76% of the sample reported using reliable contraception at last intercourse. Multivariate analyses identified seven factors as predictive of reliable contraceptive use: school enrollment, not having failed a grade in school, adequate support, belief that pregnancy is likely without birth control, attendance at postpartum visit, prior abortion, and the adolescent's desire to wait at least 2 years before having another child.
Conclusion: Interventions designed to reduce rapid repeat pregnancy during the adolescent years should address emotional, financial, and educational, as well as contraceptive, needs.