Maternal Mortality: Family Planning To The Rescue

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BY DOYIN OJOSIPE, Abuja  
Some years back, at the hospital, Abu obviously restless prayed a silent prayer pleading that his wife’s life be spared, just this once. Two promises he also made if she returns alive, were to allow her rest for as long as she heals and never to compel her into sex without her opinion of what follows after. “I knew it was my fault, though she complained but I didn’t know it takes that long to heal, I thought she just wanted to refuse,” Abu said. Abu had also insisted on having Zahratu fulfil her conjugal duties, notwithstanding her state of health. Zahratu, his wife was between life and death as she went into a preterm labour just six months after conception.
The pregnancy wasn’t planned, coming exactly three months after she had a stillbirth through caesarean section. Abu said, “I didn’t even consider that, we did some calculations and thought she was on her safe. We were both shocked when she took in again. All through the period of her pregnancy, Abu’s wife was weak and tired. Although there is no established fact as to why a pregnant woman has to experience Preterm labour, Experts have noted that Preterm labour is one of the possible risks of getting pregnant at short intervals. 
Thankfully, its three years now, Zahratu has equally rounded off her course at the University without many distractions from her marriage and the couple have remained grateful for taking up a family planning method that has well worked for them.Unlike Zahratu who was lucky, many pregnant women did not live to tell the next story.
While it is estimated that Nigeria looses 40,000 women every year to pregnancy related complications, a Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Emmanuel Otolorin said some of the deaths are being linked to unsafe abortions Delivering a lecture at a media round table on family planning and implications, he said a report by International Family Planning Perspectives shows that “Nigerian women obtain approximately 610,000 abortions, a rate of 25 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44.” Otolorin also noted that while physicians in established health facilities perform an estimated 40 per cent of abortions, 60 per cent of the abortions are performed by quacks. 
He said that while it is very clear that women of reproductive age do not want to have unwanted babies, the best way to avoid that is either abstinence or the use of family planning commodities. He also said, one sure means to prevent childbirth complications is to space the periods of pregnancy using contraceptives- this is especially as the body needs some time to heal before going through another pregnancy.
“The more pregnancy you have, the higher the risks of postpartum haemorrhage, just imagine a balloon, when you keep blowing it up, it gets weak, so you are weakening the wall of the womb and it just burst one day,” he said.
Although, childbirth complications cannot be completely ruled out, many women like Zahratu are either not allowed to decide on what will work for them or are living in ignorance on how to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
Some do not even attempt to space their children, which poses great danger to the wellness of their reproductive system.Otolorin further said that family planning could reduce maternal deaths by 44% and prevents another 44% of neo natal deaths equally.
Chairman, Association for Advancement of Family Planning in Nigeria (AAFP), Dr. Ejike Orji, speaking on the causes of maternal deaths, explained that most women couldn’t make it during child delivery because they have given birth severally and the uterus at that point may have been weaken. 

He said, “by the time they get pregnant for the fifth time, a school of thought have it that the fifth pregnancy is more dangerous than the other four pregnancies put together, the reason is that the uterus is so flabby and can easily perforate, if care is not taken the woman can bleed to death too.” Orji also said, that the notion that family planning is harmful needs to done away with adding that many, experienced side effects because they did not seek proper advice from experts on what best soothe their system.

Country Project Manager, USAID, Dr Habib Sadauki further said that the use of family planning commodities is essential for the health and socio economic development of women. He added that it would help them remain in school to complete their education, keep away diseases like fistula and keep the woman in her reproductive season in good health as she spaces child birth.