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The new generation of women who say: “Not yet”

23 February 2018
“I want another child. But not yet.” Kyae belongs to a new generation of women in Myanmar who are making active choices about the timing of their pregnancies.
“I want another child. But not yet.” Kyae belongs to a new generation of women in Myanmar who are making active choices about the timing of their pregnancies.

Kyae Nai is 23 years old. She has been married for two years and she has one child.

“I want another child. But not yet”, she says.

Kyae belongs to a trailblazing new generation of women in Myanmar who are making active choices about the timing of their pregnancies. They have access to a wide range of modern contraceptives. They have access to the information they need to make the right choice about which method is best for them. And what’s more, they are riding on the wave of an emerging women's empowerment movement. More and more women in Myanmar today are able to exercise self-determination about their bodies and their lives.

Health is not the only reason for birth spacing

“My job and my income are very important to me. I will wait a few more years before I have my next child.”

Kyae’s decision to wait before having another baby is called birth spacing. The medical evidence for birth spacing is overwhelming, and most advice on birth spacing focuses on the health of both mothers and babies. The World Health Organization’s recommendation is to wait at least 24 months before trying to become pregnant again after giving birth.

But health is not the only reason that women want longer intervals between their children. Career opportunities, financial restraints, cramped living conditions, marital instability, and extended family responsibilities also affect women’s choices. Kyae works at the hospital in the town of Falam in Myanmar’s Chin State, and for her, the most important factors were professional and financial.

“My job and my income are very important to me. I really enjoy my work, and I don’t want to give up now. And we will need my income to for our children’s education. I will wait a few more years before I have my next child”, says Kyae.

“I chose the contraceptive implant”

It was when Kyae and her husband started talking about birth control options that they first heard about the contraceptive implant. Inserted under the skin of the upper arm, the implant prevents unintended pregnancy for up to five years. But it is also reversible. If a woman would like to try for another baby, the implant is removed, and she can become pregnant again.

“I chose the implant. My mother gave birth to seven children. I will have two children, or maybe three. Just not yet”, says Kyae.

Towards a Myanmar where every pregnancy is wanted

Kyae is not alone. Thanks to voluntary family planning, millions of women in Myanmar are empowered to decide how many children to have, and when to have them.

At the same time, 1.4 million women in Myanmar do not have access to family planning. Only half of married women use modern contraceptives. 16 percent of women would like to space or limit their births but cannot access contraceptives. UNFPA support’s Myanmar’s commitment to reducing the unmet need for family planning to less than 10 percent by 2020. In the last four years, UNFPA has provided family planning, maternal and reproductive health commodities worth over US$ 12 million, and has invested US$ 2.5 million into a new logistics system.

UNFPA - working for a Myanmar where every pregnancy is wanted

This story was produced in collaboration with Save the Children