by Ginger Breedlove, CNM, PhD,
FACNM, ACNM President
As ACNM’s Our
Moment of Truth campaign
moves into its second year, we’re excited to announce the launch of a report
showcasing findings from our new national survey on women’s perceptions of their
health services. The responses we received from more than 1200 women across the
United States may surprise you. They show that despite the broad range of birth control options available, women generally
do not feel knowledgeable about the different types of contraception they could
It became clear through review and analysis of the survey responses that
women hold misperceptions on which types of birth control are most effective,
suggesting that women are uninformed about different contraceptives’
effectiveness for their reproductive needs.
A closer look at the key findings presents some troubling statistics,
but also clear opportunities for the midwifery community, including:
- Women in the United States hold
misperceptions on which types of birth control are most effective. Birth control pills were ranked by 57% of
respondents as the most effective birth control, followed by vasectomy (49%),
tubal ligation (46%), and condoms (43%). These data corresponded closely with
the most widely used types of birth control. Of the women surveyed, most were
using birth control pills (27%), followed by condoms (20%), and the withdrawal
- Many health care providers are not properly
informing women how to correctly use their method of birth control. In fact, 40% of women surveyed said they did
not receive in-depth counsel or information from their health provider on how
to use the type of birth control they were prescribed.
- Many women are not having positive
experiences when discussing birth control and family planning with their health
care provider. Although 64% of women shared they were
presented with multiple birth control options by their health provider, 1 in 10
said they felt pressured to choose one type over another. One in 10 women also stated there were
questions they did not feel they were able to ask their health provider. An
additional 1 in 10 women said they felt their health provider made assumptions
about them that led them to prescribe a certain type of birth control.
- The data on birth control and family
planning are timely and particularly useful as providers and women learn more
about the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA improves coverage and expands
services for women in the area of sexual and reproductive health. Its implementation will also afford women
greater access to midwives, who are trained to provide these services. ACNM is working
to ensure that women are made aware of midwives’ availability as health care
providers as they look to the expanded health services afforded under the ACA.
As evidenced by this new data, midwives have an opportunity to play an
integral role in educating women on effective birth control methods, and to
promote the conversations many women say they aren’t currently having with
their providers on birth control.
We encourage you to review the findings and to work with your clients
and women in your community to ensure they know about the evidence-based,
comprehensive model of care midwives can offer them throughout their lives.
These data add to and reinforce the growing body of research demonstrating the
value of midwife-led care.
As we continue to bring attention to the benefits of midwifery, it is
important that we understand the gaps that exist so that we can expand and
enhance our roles as sought-after women’s health providers. These
misperceptions, lack of knowledge, and inadequate communications can serve as a
valuable opportunity for ACNM and its members to raise midwifery’s profile and
expand our reach and impact within the women’s health landscape.
To read the full findings of the report, visit our survey webpage on the Our
Moment of Truth site.