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Experts urge spousal support in family planning to help fight maternal mortality

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The Director, Post-Pregnancy Family Planning Project (PPFP), Dr. Taiwo Johnson, has charged men across the country to be supportive of their wives during and after pregnancy as it would keep both mother and child healthy as well as the wellbeing of the home.

According to Johnson, effective family planning would reduce maternal deaths by 30 per cent and further develop the nation. Describing PPFP as the prevention of unwanted and closely spaced pregnancies during the first 12 months after delivery, she went on to add that this covers the period of pregnancy till one year after child birth, irrespective of the pregnancy outcome, especially as this is the period when pregnancy poses the greatest risk to the mother and baby. The World Health Organisation (WHO) advocates for at least two years before the next pregnancy

She made this known at the collaborative sensitisation workshop of Devcomms and Media Action for Public Health (MAPHealth) aimed at improving awareness and sensitization on the importance of family planning in Surulere, Lagos last weekend.

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On how spouses can make their homes healthy, she recommended the use of family planning methods for healthy spacing of childbirth, boosting family’s financial capacity, and keeping both mother and child healthy and alive.

Addressing men, she said, “Your partner can get pregnant soon after delivery even if she is breastfeeding. For breastfeeding to be an effective form of natural family planning, three conditions must be met: her menstruation has not returned after giving birth; the baby is put to breast day and night on demand, no food or water given and the baby must be less than six months old”.

Urging partners to support nursing mothers post pregnancy, Johnson said if the mother does not meet all three conditions, the couple should go for another family planning method to prevent pregnancy. “When a woman gets pregnant, there must be proper understanding between the couple on the best method of family planning to use after child delivery. Post Pregnancy Family Planning is designed as an integral part of RMNCH services. Hence, this is the period where pregnant women need the full support of their partners. The best time to discuss family planning method is when she is pregnant. It must be done before the arrival of the baby. A pregnant woman should find out the facts and the right method for her from a family planning provider,” she urged.

Many post pregnancy women are not interested in getting pregnant immediately as research has shown that 80 percent of Post Pregnancy women want to avoid a pregnancy in the next 24 months (DHS) however about 23% of them are not using any method. Most trust the traditional methods such as withdrawal methods and EBF, which puts them at a risk of unintended pregnancy because it is not practiced properly. Johnson revealed that a lot of women don’t believe they have to use a modern method of Family Planning as long as they are breastfeeding, adding, “This group of women have the greatest unmet need for Family Planning and easily find themselves pregnant soon after their last pregnancy.”

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Used as a method for healthy child-birth spacing, Johnson warned that although some women may experience side effects with the use of some family planning methods, they are temporary and can be managed. “You must support your partner during this period.” On if a woman can have more children after use of family planning, she said, “Temporary family planning methods are safe. Once discontinued, a woman will return to full fertility”. She encouraged women to visit any registered hospital with the green FP logo to speak with a family planning provider.

She went on to charge the Lagos State government to work more with private health facilities if the state is going to attain its goal in achieving quality healthcare for her citizens. Seeing the benefits of family planning to families and the nation, Johnson disclosed that PPFP plans to cover 240 private health facilities in Lagos State before the project expires. “Currently, PPFP has its presence in 193 private health facilities across 19 local government areas in the state, ensuring pregnant women and nursing mothers are well cared for,” she said.

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