‘Pulling Out’ Is Quickly Becoming Moms’ Preferred Method Of Birth Control

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When I went to my own six-week doctor’s appointment post-baby – you know, the one where they examine you and then give you the green light for sex – she asked what I planned on using for protection. “Huh?” I asked her. “What form of birth control will you be using?” she asked again. “Abstinence,” I said deadpan (I really meant it at the time!). She laughed and sent me on my way, shouting down the hallway, “Remember, you can get pregnant while breastfeeding!”

Interestingly, at least a handful of women I interviewed lie to their doctors when asked about birth control (they know they’ll get lectured if they admit withdrawal). One 34-year-old mother of two, Laura, cut her doctor off mid-sentence when he inquired about birth control. “We use condoms!” she lied as he went on about IUDs. He even encouraged her to go on the pill, but she’d have none of it.

“I didn’t want to gain any weight on the pill and besides, I had been on it twice before and never liked how I felt on it or what it did to my body,” she said. “And, the truth is, we rarely have sex. When we do, withdrawal works.”

Laura knows in her gut that if she “accidentally” got pregnant again, she’d be fine with it. She’s happy with two kids and doesn’t plan to have any more, but she says she wouldn’t freak out if she found herself pregnant with baby number three. Which helps explain why she’s so lax about a method that she doesn’t fully trust. (Like me, she was on the pill for most of her 20s – and she never, not once, had sex without a condom. Now she could care less.)

But some women trust it wholeheartedly. Like Amy, a 40-year-old mother of three who, despite being “done,” puts her faith in the pull out method. It’s somewhat ironic, given that she had an unwanted pregnancy in her 20s thanks to a guy who didn’t pull out in time. But Amy trusts her husband like no other and, besides, she says a man in his 40s has the self-control to do it right (unlike those in their 20s). “It’s a no brainer for them,” she insists. “Plus, he [my husband] is a good puller-outer.”

“I trust that it works and I don’t even think about it anymore,” Amy says, then proceeds to tell me about her closest girlfriend who, at age 44, had a major “oops” and got pregnant when her youngest (of four) was already 10 years old. “I’m an idiot because I know that could happen to us,” she says upon further reflection. Still, she says she’ll continue with withdrawal until her husband gets a vasectomy (which may be never, she explains, since he claims to be too busy; she knows it’s because he’s nervous).

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