As Nigeria today joins the global community to mark the 2018 World Population Day, indications have emerged that with family planning, unplanned pregnancies which have continued to fuel the country’s population growth could be checked.
Going by the testimonies of some women in Lagos State using different family planning methods, the use of contraceptive remains an effective tool that regulates frequent births and also brings about desired family size.
Mrs. Omolola Ahmed, a 29-year- old mother of two is among several mothers who are embracing family planning in Alapere, Ketu, Agoyi-Ketu LCDA of the state.
Ahmed who is presently on implant method, told our correspondent during a recent field trip to the area organised by Pathfinder International that the method had not only helped her give quality living to her two children but also saved her from unplanned pregnancy.
” I chose the implant to adequately space my children. After I gave birth to my first child, I became pregnant after six months. Taking care of the baby with pregnancy was not easy for me and I don’t want to make such mistake again”, she said.
Researchers say that infants born to women who conceived less than six months after giving birth had a 40% increased risk of being born prematurely and a 61% increased risk of low birth weight as compared with infants born to mothers who gave birth after 18 months or two years between pregnancies.
Mrs. Taiwo Olubunmi 42, also shared with joy her love for family planning using the implant method as well. The mother of four said: “I have been enjoying sex with my husband without fear of getting pregnant since I started using family planning method.
I now have peace of mind unlike before, and knowing that I have nothing to worry about my reproductive life. All these are possible because my husband supported this family planning process. It is our right to decide the number of children that we want to have. ”
The theme for this year’s event is “Family Planning as a Human Right’’. The World Population Day is a United Nations’ initiative celebrated on the 11th of July every year.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), family planning allows individuals and couples to anticipate and attained their desired number of children and the spacing and timing of their births. This, WHO said, could be achieved through the use of contraceptive methods.
Another user, Mrs. Oluwatoyin Ajewole told our correspondent that if not for the use of contraceptive method , she would have had more children than she and her husband could cater for.
“You can see I have six children already which is even too much. When I had my sixth child, one mama came to me and told me to use family planning else I will soon give birth to the seventh one.
I said God forbid that the sixth one was even a mistake. But beacuse I get pregnant easily, I was afraid and had to listen to the mama who is a retired nurse.
The mama counselled me and then introduced me to the Intra Uterine Contraceptive Device (IUCD), assuring me that it would last longer”, she said.
IUCD is a long acting reversible contraception that goes into the uterus.
Ajewole, a business woman, continued: “Though I was having some side effects from it initially, I am happy for it beacuse my body has adjusted to it. Thanks to mama as I now enjoy sex with my husband without fear of getting pregnant”, she explained.
The 2013 National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS), shows that Nigeria’s Total Fertility Rate (TFR) stood at 5.5%, which family planning experts said would undermine the growth of the nation if not urgently addressed by authorities concerned.
Also sharing her experience with The Daily Times,a house wife and mother of three who preffered anonymity, said: “To have another child in this kind of economic situation in the country will put us into serious financial burden.”
Evidence shows that apart from the economic gains of family planning, use of FP methods saves lives,reduces risks of unsafe abortion and averts unintended pregnancies and their complications.
Family planning according to experts could prevent at least 34% maternal death if every proactive government would embrace scaling up of family planning services as one of the maternal survival strategy.
Also, Mrs Titilope Adeyemi, a working class mothet is amongst 1.44 million Nigerian women of reproductive age who have successfully used family planning.
The mother of two expressed her desire to space her children. She told The Daily Times that she and her husband have decided to embrace family planning and would be on it until when they are ready for another baby.
Adeyemi remaked: “I want to have another child in the next five years to enable me take care of myself and the two that I have already ”
Speaking to our correspondent at the end of the visit, a family planning expert, provider and facilitator, Mrs. Abiola Adekoya, said family planning offers unlimited benefits to every woman who adopts any of the methods so that mothers and babies will be healthier, and risky pregnancies avoided.
Adekoya with many years experience in family planning, said she had trained over 120 health workers on family planning, assuring that she would continue to raise awareness on family planning considering its numerous health and economic benefits to individuals and the country as a whole.
” In my community here, I have introduced many women to family planning and they are embracing it. Family planning is a tool for safemotherhood.It saves lives. It brings about healthy family”, she said.
The 56-year-old mother of four, however, identified lack of budget line for consumables as a major factor affecting women from coming out to totally embrace family planning.
Come 2020, Nigeria hopes to attain its 28 percent contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR). The FP 2020 goal is designed to enable 120 million women and girls have informed choice and access to family planning information and a range of modern contraceptive methods.
The 2013 NDHS reported contraceptive prevalence rate of 48 percent for all methods in Lagos State. For Nigeria to meet the set national CPR target, Lagos State is required to hit a target of 74 percent by 2018.
Commenting on the risk of frequent births, Dr. Teckle G.Egiziabher, a Gynaecologist at Rwanda Military Hospital Kanombe, said that various problems would in most cases arise if children are not appropriately spaced.
He said that babies tend to have a condition called intrauterine growth restriction, which is when the foetus is not growing and developing at the expected rate during pregnancy.
“The foetus tends to be small for its age meaning it might be smaller than the expected size for weeks of pregnancy because of the possible problems with the placenta,” Egiziabher said.
He added that frequent births could also lead to a premature birth as the baby may have problems because its organs didn’t have enough time to develop, and may not be ready to function on their own.
“For the mother, there can be a uterine rupture; this is a tear through the uterus which can occur as a result of scars from previous caesarean section,” he noted.
According to Chairman, National Population Commission (NPC), Mr. Eze Duruiheoma,, there is need to look at family planning beyond saving lives but as instrument for empowering people and developing nations.
He said family planning which is included in Sustainable Development Goals can help in achieving other goals, “achieving many of the goals depends in part on the ability of women to exercise their reproductive rights.
Duruiheoma said family planning prevents unintended pregnancies and in turn reduces health risks at childbirth and recourse of unsafe abortions.
“ But increase in the right of women and girls to decide freely and for themselves, on whether, when and how many children to have, afford women and girls more opportunities to become wage earners, thereby boosting family income levels”, he said.
Speaking on this year’s World Population Day theme which focused on family planning as a human right , Duruiheoma noted that the theme was a reminder to the first proclamation on FP as a Human Right made on May 13, 1968, at the conclusion of the United Nations International Conference on Human rights.
According to him, 20 years after, the 1994 International Conference on Population Development (ICPD) in Cairo reaffirmed the declaration with a rider and to have information and ensuring informed choices as well made available a full range of safe and effective methods.
He also said that the ICPD programme of action allowed the rights to be exercised by all couples and individuals, adding that FP is the first and last step in managing population.
Some family planning methods available in various clinics in Lagos are pills, condoms, implants, injectables, lactation Amenorrhea, patch, ring, bead and the irreversible ones like vasectomy, and bilateral tubal ligation.
Providers of family planning services in the state are advised to counsel the clients on the various methods available and the side effects, so that they can make an informed choice.