Maternal & Child Health : Two Mothers Who Wouldn’t Register for Antenatal Care/Vaccinate Their Children

Once while at Ankor Market in Eruwa, Oyo State with a team on community interaction with mothers about registering for antenatal and immunizing their babies, we came across a few women that surprised us.

One of the women was a young pregnant mother selling stuff in the market. We asked whether she had registered at the hospital for antenatal care and she said she didn’t have the time yet. She travels to the farm to bring goods to sell in the market and was just too busy. It was a thing of concern to my Abiye team(maternal and child health media education team) and I. So here we were in the middle of the market with all the ambiance of bargaining going on attempting to convince this woman to register herself and unborn child at the antenatal clinic. We did our best to educate her on the importance of antenatal care to having a healthy baby and safe delivery.

Moving further down in the market we met a nursing mother with her baby strapped to her back. She was there to buy some foodstuff. In our chat with her, we tried to find out if she had been taking her baby for his immunization doses. This mother responded that she didn’t believe in immunizing her children. To her, it was not necessary and she even feared that it might be harmful to her baby. We were flabbergasted at her “ignorance”. My thought was… “Do people still think like this at this age”? We soon found out that there were others like her in that same market and community.

Again we engaged her in a dialogue to educate her about the importance of immunizing her children to their wellbeing. I enlightened her about the fact that vaccines protect children from childhood diseases that could be fatal. This woman was busy smiling and shaking her head, it didn’t look like she would take our advice and there wasn’t much we could do about it.

Many others like these women whose stories I just Shared really need to be better educated.

It is easy to think that with all the campaign to create awareness about the safety net of immunizing babies and children,  people would take it seriously. Unfortunately, there are still those who have a bias and are not properly informed. Community education is still very important and must continue.

As we mark another world Polio day today 24th October 2017, encourage every mother in your community to go immunize their babies to protect their lives and future. Polio is a crippling disease that is iireversible but can be prevented through immunization.

Encourage expectant mothers to also register for antenatal care where they are likely to have proper education about immunization services for their babies.

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

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#SAFE MOTHERHOOD – Do You Know that Parts of a baby Forms 3 weeks after Conception? How to Have a Healthy Baby.

Your baby’s development and growth starts in the womb and not just after birth. Most times we begin to count a child’s age when he/she is born. I’d like to think that the nine months in the womb should be added. Yes, the life of any child begins at conception. It is therefore important that a woman understands that once she gets pregnant everything and anything she does can affect the development of her child.

As early as three weeks after conception occurs a baby’s organs internally and physically begins to form (head, hand, fingers, intestine, heart etc.) So it is very important for a mother to start eating right and taking care of herself right from the time she is aware that another life is growing in her. I would say even before you get pregnant eat right, eat a balanced diet and feed well. Then your body can have enough supply of nutrients, vitamins, minerals needed by you and your baby.

What you eat; how you take care of yourself and health during pregnancy matters.

Foods rich in nutrient to help your baby develop well in the womb:

  • Eat a lot of proteinous foods such as egg, fish, meat, beans, Moimoi, Akara(Bean Cake) – Helps your baby’s brain and muscle development.
    Specifically Beans – contains Zinc an important mineral that helps to give your baby adequate birth weight and cut down the risk of having a pre-term baby.
  • Fruits (Orange, banana, Apple, grapes, Guava, etc.) contain lots of vitamins.
  • Dairy products such as milk, yogurt – This is rich in calcium necessary for the development of your baby’s bones, teeth.
  • Foods rich in fiber such as oatmeal, cereals rich in wheat – This class of food contain vitamins and proteins.
  • Vegetables such as carrot, cabbage, efo tete, ugwu leaf and so much more – These are rich in vitamins and minerals.
  • Water is essential in helping organs of the body to function properly. Water aids digestion, circulation of nutrients in the body and oxygen flow in the body. Therefore water is very important in pregnancy. Take a lot of water in pregnancy.

Most malformation (birth defects) occur when the organs are forming and what can cause this include effects of drugs used without doctor’s prescription or exposure to radiation. 

Beware Alcohol, smoking and taking drugs without a doctor’s prescription can have serious implication on your baby.

Warning Alcohol affects the development and health of a baby in the womb and after birth.

Photo Credit: BBC

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

Breastfeeding #2 – What is your take on Companies/organizations Providing a Baby Creche for Nursing Mothers?

The other day I was having an official chat with my boss and something she said warmed my heart.

Recently a number of our pregnant women in the office just delivered their babies. Four months of maternity leave wrapped up quickly and before you could say “Jack Robinson” they resumed work. A few of these mothers brought their babies to the office with a maid carrying the baby outside in the car, in the parking lot while mummy worked. The mother will dash out every now and then to breastfeed and get back to attending to official matters.

It was mostly a case of wanting to do exclusive Breastfeeding and to achieve this meant they had to bring their babies since there was no baby Creche  anywhere close to the office.

During our chat, this my boss looked out the window and saw a mother rushing to breastfeed her baby in the parking lot and she shared a thought she had been brooding over. She was on a hunt for a container that will be furnished and turned into a baby Creche for our nursing mothers. I felt it was really thoughtful of her. She planned on getting sponsors for this project to make this dream come through as the organization will likely not provide such a service.

My Question

What is your take on companies/organizations providing baby Creche for nursing mothers?

Some people will say it is not cost effective as these mothers are already being paid.. Hmmmn what do you think?

Please share your thoughts.

Baby Creche: A nursery where babies and young children are taken care of while their mum’s work. 

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

Water is Essential in Health Facilities – SafeMotherhood #6

 

I was at a Primary Health Center(PHC)  to join in on a community mobilization effort to sensitize people about Family Planning and its benefit to women’s health and poverty reduction organized by NURHI Ibadan. While the group gathered I decided to visit the toilet to ease the pressure in my bladder and I asked the nurse on duty to point me in the direction of the toilet. I  was told that there was no water and was advised to pee in the bush somewhere around the back of the health center outside. It wasn’t funny but I had to afterall I have been in rusettings before 😕

It is unthinkable to run a hospital with little or no water supply. Yet that is the case in many primary health centers serving communities in Nigeria. Having worked on a maternal and child health program (Abiye)  for more than five years now many of the PHC my team visited and worked with lack access to clean water. 

Imagine a pregnant woman in labor pains coming to deliver at a PHC where there is no water… 

A few PHC are lucky to have a well or get a bore hole sunk by philanthropist, politicians who need to shine. But most do not have access to clean water to attend to patients.
If there is no water in a facility patients and health workers alike are exposed to serious health hazards.

Water is necessary to keep a hospital environment clean and everyone in it safe and healthy. It’s availability enables constant washing of hands by health care providers to prevent spread of diseases; to have a clean toilet; to conduct surgeries and wash hospital equipments and basically keep the hospital facility clean.

How can we ensure that clean water is accessible to primary health centers? Who is responsible for providing water? What can communities do you help their PHCs access water?

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

One Way to End the Circle of Poverty for Families

NURHI mobilizer in Ibadan engaging two women and their children about FP.

Low-income earners like market women, Okada riders, taxi drivers, Vulcanizers, cleaners and so on have more children than they can cater for.

A typical Okada rider used to transport passengers

Not too long ago an Okada man picked me up while on my way to the office. We got talking about the economy and how life can be difficult. I asked him about his family and he said that he had two wives and 7 children or more …I can’t really remember the number now. I didn’t want to alarm him but I quickly calculated how much he earns doing his Okada business.

It will not be enough to care for his large family. I then asked him about whether his children were enrolled in a school at least a government school. Well, he said he was trying his best to send them to school.

I shook my head and wondered if the circle of poverty will ever end in his family. If he can’t equip his children with the required skill and education to put them on a better pedestal in life then they all remain a struggling poor generation. This should not be so and can be stopped.

Do you know that those in the upper class and even middle class have fewer children? Imagine a man/woman is a multi-billion naira/dollar business owner and has only two children or four. These children will have more money than they can spend and if they are properly groomed and disciplined they will keep multiplying that money!

The Way Forward
I will say, educate as many people as you can about the need to raise a family commensurate to their income and ability. I have people who work for me like my housekeeper, and I also meet others like our mechanic, petty trade shop owner on my street. Hopefully, I can keep educating them about this “suicide” mission of having a large family with little or no money.

One way to end the circle of poverty among low income earners is to educate them about benefits of planning their families and having only the number of children they can cater for.

In my experience some of these people don’t know that they have a choice in the matter; they don’t know that there is something they can do about it.

Benefits of FP
• Mothers can rest between births and therefore are healthier
• Children born can receive proper care and nutrition while they develop. It is difficult taking care of a 3 months old baby when the mother becomes pregnant too soon.
• Income can be managed better with fewer mouths to feed
• Children can go to school and attain higher education.
• Fathers and mothers can have less stress in managing the resources of their family.
• Fewer fights in the family when the resources can go round.

Adebisi Adetunji ©

Begging For Alms: Babies for Hire – What We Must Do!

 

While in the salon making my hair I scrolled through messages on the Advocacy for family planning WhatsApp group page I belong to and then came across this video – (Nigeria Beggar Abandon 3 Babies) that someone had posted. My mouth was agape all through while I watched the story unfold. Here was a woman begging on one of the bridges in Lagos with three babies wearing identical caps. One would have thought they were triplets and most people will be moved to give this “poor woman”, money to care for her “suffering innocent children”. Guess what…these babies were not triplets and she was not their mother either. How did she get these babies? Their mothers hire them out to this “beggar woman” every day and in return get some change at the end of the day. You need to have seen these babies crying their hearts out wrapped in pieces of cloths lying on the ground. The mother heart in me went out to them and then this anger against their mother and the woman using them for alms arose in me.

Some women should simply not be mothers!!! How could they be that heartless all in the name of making some money? I hear that they make some good money as much as N10, 000, N15, 000. Their foolish mothers get like N1, 500 at the end of the day for exposing their child to the elements and weather (come rain, come the sunshine). The particular “woman beggar” in the video ran away when authorities tried to question her but thankfully she was caught. Ask me what happened after that? I believe these babies should have been taken over by the social welfare and then these women should be arrested and prosecuted! How far they went with this I don’t know.

The sad thing was that when I checked Google to find out more about this story I discovered that the act of hiring babies to beg alms has been a practice for some years now.  This is a criminal offence. There was a time the Lagos government clamped down on people doing this but they found means of escaping and moving to new places to continue this inhuman act. It is now known as baby trafficking, using babies as slaves to make money! What is our world becoming?

One wonders why these women engage in this act. Is it because of poverty or Laziness? Yes, we can say poverty but seriously hiring your baby out to be used for alms begging?! I think laziness is also part of it and of course the problem of giving birth to too many children that they cannot cater for. A Punch newspaper story shared the story of cash- hungry mothers who loan  out their babies for begging. One of such women came to Lagos in search of a good life with her four children from Ibadan. She then had another baby whom she rents out to a “woman beggar” every day. This woman works at as a food vendor and earns N300 while also collecting N1, 500 daily pay for hiring her baby out. The annoying thing is that this baby is given out at 5 am and returned at 7 pm. Come on this is crazy! (Forgive my language). It is so unfair.

I don’t want to just write about this story like every other disturbing societal issue; we need to do something about this.

Every one of us has a part to play in educating people that there are other things they can do to make money; that they can control the number of children they give birth to through the use of modern family planning(FP) methods.

There are various methods that can be used. Short FP methods (Condom, injectable for 2 – 3 months) and long lasting methods (Implants 3 – 5years, IUDs and so on; permanent methods – Tubal Ligation and Vasectomy). These are available at Primary Health centers at affordable prices)

What Should/Can be Done:
1) Well-meaning individuals, organizations can invest in establishing shelter homes and facilities to house such babies or less-privileged mothers. This caters for their housing need. Most importantly skills acquisition programs should be organized and a start-up money given to empower these women.

If you are rich perhaps instead of sharing money on the streets in bales wasting resources engage in such enduring philanthropic activity.

2) And seriously, our government need to step up in putting in place policies that can protect such children and punish their mean mothers. And perhaps from my social work point of view empower these women so that they can stop begging on the streets or hiring their children out as tools for alms begging.

If we continue to ignore:
Many babies will die as a result because of being starved of proper nutrients and getting exposed to diseases that kill infants. They will end up increasing the statistics of infant mortality rate (IMR) in Nigeria. According to WHO  2013 data, infant mortality rate in Nigeria stands at  100 children per 1000 live births. The latest data for 2015 according to world Bank development indicators from recognized sources shows  IMR for Nigeria at 69.4 per 1000 live births. Still very high, every child, every life counts.

We will also be raising adults who become hard and callous. If they do survive they become street wise and engage in all kinds of vices. They end up becoming problems to us all as they will grow up feeling cheated.

No one knows what the future holds for a child. A lot of great things are possible. We will be losing individuals who are probably endowed with answers to our world’s problems.

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

Cries in the Cold Rain…

There was no warm blanket
No warm and loving hands to hold
No soothing voice
Her cries almost blocked her lungs
She was breathless, so cold

It was a wet day, no shelter
Her mother hurriedly dropped her in a dark corner
the rain continued to pour on
There she lay on a cold hard ground in the dirt

She cried even louder still stained with blood from the womb
Suddenly a shadow stood over her, a rough trembling hand picked her up

A warm cloth, not a blanket wrapped around her
This hand held her tightly to her chest and for the first time she felt the flesh of another human
A good Samaritan found her

Instead of giving birth to a baby that you will throw away use a condom.
Instead of snuffing out life from such innocence use a contraceptive pill.

Instead of dumping your baby give him/her up for adoption. Someone out there is willing to love and nurture that child. 

This poem is dedicated to all babies dumped in unthinkable places after being delivered by mothers who were not prepared and never wanted them.

Photo Credit: Original picture from Flicker

Adebisi Adetunji(C)