By Chioma Obinna and Gabriel Olawale
Each year in Nigeria, according to the Guttmacher report 2017, 61,000 women die from complications of birth and abortion or miscarriage. The report also notes that out of 1.3 million abortions in 2018, 85 percent are estimated to occur under unsafe conditions.
Several reports have shown that most of these deaths and complications can be prevented through safe sex. Saturday Vanguard health crew writes that women in some parts of Lagos are now adopting safer sex through contraception for a healthy family.
At the premises of the Ita-Elewa Primary Healthcare Centre in Ikorodu was large number of women waiting at the family planning clinic. For these women it is safer sex or no sex. These women who were carrying their babies of different ages were waiting patiently for the family planning provider who attends to not less than 50 women a day.
It was interesting interacting with some of the women numbering over 100 at the clinic as they took turns to narrate their stories to Saturday Vanguard. Majority of the women confessed that their decision to take up family planning was to prevent unintended pregnancy.
Unwanted pregnancy forced me to take up family planning – Basirat For Basirat Bakare, 34, the decision to take the family planning was not easy but an experience she described as heartbroken recorded her to change her decision. She recounted how her reluctant to take up family planning leads to unplanned pregnancy which she eventually aborted.
“Six months after my first child, I became pregnant. I was not happy because any time we had sex and I ask my husband whether he released on me, he will say no. But when I became pregnant, we were both unhappy and we can’t tell anybody so we later terminated the pregnancy.
“Three years later, we had our second child and my husband was using a condom as a means of prevention. But after our third born, my husband said he was not that too comfortable with condom as it did not enable him to enjoy sex very well.
“My mother-in-law used to talk about family planning, so I discoursed with my husband to take up the family planning method that will enable him to enjoy me very well because he loves skin to skin intercourse.
“So immediately after I had my third child, I opted for Jadelle implants which are five years because my husband said he didn’t want child again.
Basirat, however, encouraged mothers to have the number of children they can cater for, “I was born into a polygamous family where nobody was interested in my career so I didn’t go to school. I suffer for my lack of education and I don’t want such to happen to my children.
“The school my children are going now cost us about N370, 000 per term and they have three terms in a year. What is the essence of the child you give birth to that they don’t have sound education?
I gave birth to 5 children out of ignorance—Medinat
Medinat Ajomagberin, 47, mother of six, said the fear of side effects informed her delaying to take up family planning. She had five children as a result.
“Our plan was to have three children, but due to negative information about family planning, I was scared, but when I had my fifth children I couldn’t imagine myself getting pregnant again.
“So I came to the family planning clinic to take up a method, and ever since I took up a method two years ago, I haven’t experienced any challenge. I regretted not visiting the clinic earlier; maybe I wouldn’t have had up to five children.
I don’t listen to negative information about family planning—Shitu
Basirat is not alone, Mrs Shitu Imole-Ayo, 29, a fashion designer and mother of three was on withdrawal method before, but due to its unreliability, she had a discussion with her husband about family planning and the method that would make them enjoy sex better.
“So I opted for Jadelle to space my children but recently I removed it and I am now on injection.
“Before I embraced family planning, I heard negative information about it, but I didn’t let that distract me. I carried out the entire test I was asked to do before they gave me the one that is suitable for me. They also told me that in case I have any complaints I should feel free to come back and am impressed with their friendly service.
“I embrace family planning to give my children a better life and I now enjoy sex better without fear. The service at Ita Elewa PHC was free.
Unplanned pregnancy almost took my life – Comfort
For Comfort Usman 30, a mother of two, who gave birth through Caesarean Section, CS recounted how she nearly lost her life due to inadequate spacing, “I got pregnant six weeks after my first child, I didn’t expect it because the doctor warned me that I need to stay for at least two years before getting pregnant as my first child was through CS.
“But thank God I was able to deliver the second child through CS as well which nearly took my life. After that experience, the doctor said I should embrace family planning if I want to live a healthy life.
“I discussed with my husband and he was in support of it. I am using the tablet and comfortable with it for now. To make sure I keep up with the drugs, I set alarm on every gadget at home to wake up at 10 pm. When am through with childbearing I will go for a longer lasting method.
Speaking about her experience in providing service to women of reproductive age at Ita Elewa PHC, during an activity organised by the Media Advocacy Working Group, MAWG, a family planning Manager, Mrs Adeyanju Rotimi with a decade experience said that the majority of their clients are always in a hurry to access service and go.
“We run a daily family planning clinic from Monday to Friday, and our major challenge is lack of space because our clinic is not conducive. We want our counselling room to be separated from the procedure and toilet.
“We don’t usually experience stock out, NGO used to complement the Ministry of health in the area of consumables and commodities. In area attendance, on a monthly basis, we use to have 150 to 200 clients and on some occasion, we record a higher number than that.
“I started providing family programme service in 2008, it’s something I enjoy doing and we have mobilisers that makes our work easier. They do outreach on a monthly basis. Our clients are always in a hurry, but what I do is to first calm them down before counselling and later send them for investigation. “Few of our clients use to complain of fatness while some complained of spotting but during my initial counselling, I use to tell them that about little changes they are likely to experience but in case of any contrary they should come back to the clinic.
“Family planning can only make you gain little weight while the fatness was as a result of the peace of mind they have with their husband. I do advise my client to try and eat balance diet.