Qualitative examination of the role and influence of mothers-in-law on young married couples’ family planning in rural Maharashtra, India.

Anvita Dixit, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa
Mohan Ghule, National Institute for Research in Reproductive Health (NIRRH) (ICMR)
Namratha Rao, Center on Gender Equity and Health, UC San Diego
Battala Madhusudana, Population Council, India
Shahina Begum, RD Gardi Medical College
Nicole Johns, Center on Gender Equity and Health, UC San Diego
Niranjan Saggurti, Population Council
Jay Silverman, University of California, San Diego
Sarah Averbach, Center on Gender Equity and Health, UC San Diego
Anita Raj, University of California, San Diego

Unmet need for family planning continues to be high in India especially among young and newly married women. Mothers in law often exert pressure for fertility and control decision-making and behaviors around fertility and family planning, yet there is a paucity of literature to understand their perspectives. Ten focus group discussions were carried out with mothers in law of young married women (18-29 years) on their roles, attitudes and decision making around fertility and family planning. Mothers in law reported having social norms of early fertility and son preference. They understood that family size norms are lower among daughter in laws and that spacing can be beneficial but were not supportive of short-term contraceptives especially before first child. They preferred female sterilization, opposed abortion, continue to have apprehensions around side effects from contraceptive use, had misconceptions about the IUD, and concerns around coercive insertion of IUD. MILs mostly believed that decision making should be done jointly by a husband and wife but that as elders they should be consulted and involved in the decision-making process. Programmatic and intervention efforts need to be expanded to engage MILs and utilize social norms interventions to promote family planning rural India.

Keywords: Family planning and contraception, Fertility and childbirth, Qualitative data/methods/approaches, Intergenerational relations

See paper.

  Presented in Session 25. Challenges Facing the Young in India