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Published On: Mon, May 26th, 2014

Saving mothers’ lives through ante-natal counselling

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Ante-natal counsellingFrom Muhammad Ibrahim, Kaduna

According to Safe Motherhood website, most often in developing countries, a woman dies from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth on a rate of one woman per minute. That translates to 515,000 women, at a minimum, dying every year.

The Website added that nearly all maternal deaths (99 percent) occur in the developing world, making maternal mortality the health statistic with the largest disparity between developed and developing countries.

New Born babies are also under going this terrible fate, anencephalic babies that suffer from this die days or weeks after birth.

For every woman who dies, 30 to 50 women suffer injury, infection, or disease. Pregnancy related complications are among the leading causes of death and disability for women age 15 to 49 in developing countries.

When a mother dies, children lose their primary caregiver, communities are denied her paid and unpaid labour, and countries forego her contributions to economic and social development.

A woman’s death is more than a personal tragedy. It represents an enormous cost to her nation, her community, and her family. Any social and economic investment that has been made in her life is lost. Her family loses her love, her nurturing, and her productivity inside and outside the home.

More than a decade of research has shown that small and affordable measures can significantly reduce the health risks that women face when they become pregnant. Most maternal deaths could be prevented if women had access to appropriate health care during pregnancy, childbirth, and immediately afterwards.

The report by the same website said approximately 4 million newborn infants die during the first month of life, and an additional 4 million are stillborn. Most of these deaths are due to infection, asphyxia and birth injuries, and complications of premature birth.

It stated that Low birth weight contributes to newborn death in about 40 to 80% of cases. Nearly all of these newborn deaths occur in developing countries, and most of these deaths can be prevented if good quality is available. With the rising survival rate of premature babies, it becomes increasingly important for mothers to consider all options.

The report by the website showed why United Nations set aside a 22 May of every year to celebrate mothers worldwide. This very important day was tagged “Safe motherhood day” which means a day set aside globally to ensure that all women receive the care they need to be safe and healthy throughout pregnancy and childbirth period.

Nigeria too joined the world to celebrate the safe motherhood week where, as part of the activities of the day, pregnant and nursing mothers attended hospitals for free Ante-Natal care and child spacing

counseling. Drugs were also given to patients free of charge, particularly in Kaduna State.

National Urban Reproductive Health Initiative NURHI in collaboration with Kaduna State Ministry of Health organized such at primary health care in the state metropolis.

As Unguwar Rimi Primary Health care in Kaduna North Local Government Area of the state Pregnant women were seen in large number attending ante-natal and child Spacing counseling. Nurses were seen busy educating the mothers on what they are expected to do during the pregnant period.

Mrs Bathsheba Halid, Reproductive Health Coordinator safe motherhood for the Federal Ministry of Health in the state spoke at length about the day, saying it is a date set aside to commemorate motherhood care in the state by creating awareness on what the government is doing with regards to protecting women lives, particularly mothers.

According to her, many women died during child birth therefore the day emerged in a meeting in Cairo in 1987 due to the global trend of women that are dying.

She added that the day was set aside to educate women and the people on what to do to safe pregnant women from dying and what government can do in that regards. .

On what they intend to achieve by celebrating the day , Mrs Bathsheba said at the end of the exercise they intend to achieve massive awareness by educating general public, especially women on the

importance of attending ante-natal and how to take good care of their children.

“We also intend to talk about child spacing because it is important for the woman to rest atfer each pregnancy so as to remain healthy enough to take another pregnancy. In Kaduna state alone they said one in every 12 women die during pregnancy complications which is quite a big number. We have one of the highest rates in the country.

“Kaduna has the highest rates of maternal mortality in North West. We also have drugs which we give to the woman to mark this year event free of charge,” he said.

Ladi Haruna Metro in charged of Primary Health Care Unguwar Rimi described the day as a special day because free Ante-Natal service and Child Spacing counseling were given to pregnant women.

According to her, every month during ante-natal the clinic used to have about 400 pregnant women but that had increased on the day of safe motherhood week.

She attributed the inability of pregnant women to go for ante-natal to personal reasons, saying some men were responsible because they always tell their wives that ante-natal is not important which is not true.

“Part of the method used to sensitize such pregnant women was home visit. We do counsel as well as advice the women to always come to the clinic during their pregnancy period and for child spacing counseling too.

“The child spacing help the women to rest before taking in again at least the space should start from two years. We always have good turn up from unguwar Rimi residents and from neighbouring villages of Chikun Local government area.

“When a woman takes in with a little child in her hand she cannot take care of the home properly, neither wilkl she be able to take care of her husband nor herself. So child spacing is very important for the whole family,” she advised.

Also Staff Nurse Hassana Baba Nok; a Family Planning Provider trained by National Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (NURHI) on Child Spacing shared same view with the nurse Ladi.

She stated that at the beginning she lacked full knowledge of child spacing until when NURHI took her for training where she was taught on important of Child Spacing such as how to counsel her clients and the new method.

The new method she explained include in plant, saying “ Child spacing help women to give space among their children, it makes the women very healthy before the next pregnancy and it will also give her the

strength to take care of other children. So it’s very important for her and the entire family members,” she said.

On the challenges encountered, if any, she said “We don’t have much challenges because the drugs were given to us by NURHI free of charge.

Some of the challenges we have come from the men who are always against their wives going for child spacing.

“So as women they do have their rights, which is why I do give them the drugs to use. I also have some women from a particular tribe who said they are not allowed to do child spacing but they still come to collect their cards and hide it from their husbands.

“Some of them do bring their husbands along for counseling and we counsel them very well because the backbone of child spacing is counseling. So that they have information for them to make a good choice.

“This is important because they have misconceptions about child spacing, there has been romour about child spacing but when you give them proper counseling it will clear the romour and conceptions they have in their heads.

“There are also some men who complained that they are interested in child spacing but their wives are not. So all these are challenges we faced. NURHI has really intervened because they assisted me in providing all necessary support for such a people,” she said.

On the side effect of the drugs, she said it depends on the individual taking it because some women after using the drugs may have irregular menstruation while some don’t have.

“Those that complain of the drug making them to increase size I told them it’s not the drug but rather it is the rest of mind they have of not getting pregnant that is responsible for their increase in size.

A housewife who didn’t want her name mentioned said child spacing is good because it gives women chance to rest before the next pregnancy, adding that It help a woman health wise.

“The situation in the country led to child spacing. When you have few children you will be able to train them better but when the children are much it will be difficult to take good care of them.

“I have three children and there are gaps between them, my first child has six years, the second four years and the third three years gaps, respectively. We have a very good understanding with my husband. As you can see I am very healthy. I am 47 years old but people hardly believe me when I told them,” she said.

Another housewife who also spoke on condition of anonymity said child spacing is very important, particularly help wise.

“It’s important because it help us health wise. I do counsel my husband on its importance too. Sometimes we do counsel our men on the importance of child spacing,” she said.

She said the drugs have no effect on her as she enjoy taken them. No doubt, the intervention of NURHI has contributed so much towards creating awareness on the importance of ante-natal and child spacing in Nigeria, Kaduna in particular.

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