Dear Husband, Birth Control Has To Be Your Job Until My Body Has Healed From Pregnancy & Birth

Birth control should be the responsibility of both partners. Get yourself educated about the options you have early enough that you do not have issues over it.

Tia & Atul’s story

Tia was overjoyed. “It’s a girl!” the doctor announced. As she was handed over her tiny little bundle of joy, tears streamed down her face. All that pain was worth it. The gruelling 32 hour labor had taken a toll on her. She was feeling weak, yet all the pain paled in comparison to the shriveled tiny little munchkin wriggling in her hands. Atul was delighted too. He kissed Tia on her forehead and looked at his brave wife in awe. “I am so proud of you sweetheart, you have given me the most precious gift,” he whispered into Tia’s ears as he gently rocked his darling daughter into sweet slumber.

Within three days they were discharged from the hospital. With no one to help, Tia was grappling with her new responsibilities. Atul would be at work the whole day, and expecting him to wake up at night was something Tia felt was asking for too much. Atul also failed to see Tia’s beautiful eyes slowly developing dark circles. The only time she spoke to him was when she wanted to tell him about some new development made by the li’l one.

It had been 4 weeks now. At night as Tia lay down, she could feel Atul reaching out to her. She panicked. Oh god! She just didn’t feel ready for it. She remembered telling him that they shouldn’t be getting intimate for the next 4 weeks. Was he actually counting the days? Were 4 weeks actually over? As all these questions flashed through her head, another thought made her freeze: what if she got pregnant again? It would be too much for her to handle. Even as she protested weakly, she gave in when she saw Atul’s hopeful expression.

The next morning she couldn’t eat anything. She was almost numb with anxiety. The only thought that kept going through her mind was, I hope I don’t get pregnant! They hadn’t used any protection, because as usual Atul found it bothersome. While Atul was reading the newspaper, she told him that they must plan a visit to the gynecologist.

“Why?” he asked. “Didn’t we just meet her?”

“That’s right, but I don’t want to get pregnant again!” she blurted out. “I want to get a suitable contraception, and for that we must visit a doctor.”

Atul dismissed her concerns with a wave of his hand. “Nothing is going to happen. Don’t you know that as long as you are breastfeeding you can’t get pregnant?”

“What??” Tia screeched in disbelief. “Who told you all this crap Atul? That’s all just an old wives’ tale. We need to do something before things go out of hand.”

“What’s the big deal Tia? Ok, let’s do one thing. Why don’t you go back on that pill that you were taking before the baby came?”

Tia took a deep breath and replied with the last shred of sanity she had, “I can’t take that Atul, I am breastfeeding now. It will affect the baby. How can you be so ignorant? And I am never going back on the pill ever again. I can’t deal with all that weight gain and mood swings.”

Atul was getting pissed off now. “Why the hell should I know all this? This is your business. I will organize a taxi for you. You can go to the gynecologist and do whatever you want to”.

Tia looked at Atul disbelievingly. “How convenient Atul? How does all this become my business? You never wanted to use condoms so I had to go on the pill. And now too you refuse to use condoms. In spite of all that I am ready to go visit a doctor and get an IUD insertion done. Can’t you even accompany me till there?”

Atul looked sheepishly at Tia. “I just find all this too embarrassing Tia!”

“Embarrassing!” Tia snorted. “Atul you amaze me. Why is it that men just want to have all the fun? I have been putting my body through so much and you don’t even care. You don’t even help me with the baby. Is she not both of ours?” Tia stormed off to the next room. She couldn’t take it anymore.

Atul sat down on the sofa, trying to understand what had just happened. He loved Tia so much! And it’s only now that he noticed her dark rings. This was just the kind of man he didn’t want to be. He was unconsciously displaying all the traits he hated in his father. He always prided himself on being a loving husband, but obviously he was not doing enough. I am going to be a better father, he decided, and a better husband. How could I have gone so wrong? And what is it that she said? IUD? Now what is that? I had better read up on it.

He went to Tia and knelt down beside her. As he took her into her arms, he could feel her body shaking with sobs, “I am sorry Tia, I never realized how foolish I have been. I am going to use protection until your body recovers completely, and you feel ready for the next step. You have gone through so much, baby. The least I can do is to at least be careful. And yes, I am going to be a better father. In fact I want to be the best father! Give me one more chance Tia. When you are ready I will take you to the gynecologist. I love you so very much!” Tia hugged Atul tight as tears of relief streamed down her face.

Reflecting on this story

While women have a host of birth control options, each is as woeful as the previous one. What with implants getting lost in your body, barriers breaking or causing infection, hormonal injections & pills making you fat and moody, there isn’t much to look forward to.

While pregnancy itself takes a huge toll on a woman’s body, a woman should not be further burdened with the responsibility of preventing pregnancy. The spouse or partner must take the required steps to ensure that his wife’s body recovers completely before planning the next pregnancy. It is advised to give a gap of at least three years before you plan the next child.

Is birth control only a woman’s business?

A staggering 15.6 million abortions took place in 2015, and more than half of these pregnancies were unintended pregnancies. Prevention of pregnancy is often left to the woman mainly because the burden of the consequences of a failed contraception is always for a woman to bear. While the scene is slowly changing in urban India, a lot more awareness needs to be created regarding how a man can contribute towards the prevention of pregnancy.

Family planning has often been considered as a woman’s business. India’s family planning programme focuses almost completely on female sterilization (or tubectomy). In spite of the fact that there are more complications involved in a tubectomy as in comparison to a vasectomy, many women, especially in rural parts take up the onus to undergo sterilization.

What about the men?

There are several myths and misconceptions that shroud vasectomy. Loss of virility to experiencing weakness are just a few of them. The social stigma associated with vasectomy is highly prevalent in several parts of our country, which needs to be changed.

There are several methods of preventing a pregnancy, and the most suitable method must be opted for, such that the side effects are minimal. With only two birth control options for men, namely condoms and vasectomy, it’s literally a joyride for them.

But why do men have fewer options? Mainly because the research and development in this field is happening at snail’s pace owing to the fact that blocking the production of millions of sperms per day in men as compared to preventing the release of one egg per month in women, is just more complex. And men are more resistant to options that use hormones.

So how can a man actually contribute to birth control?

  • By reading up and being aware of the various contraceptive choices available, along with their side effects, and help their spouse in making informed choices regarding family planning.
  • Post-partum also, a woman’s body is equally fertile, hence during this period the husband must be extra cautious and take suitable precautions to not get his wife pregnant, at least until her body recovers completely and she is ready to take up a birth control option of her choice.
  • Once your family is complete, instead of making your wife undergo various birth control procedures, offer to get a vasectomy done.

While it takes two to make a child, it should definitely take two to plan a baby as well.

Image source: pixabay

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