Caring for mothers and children is a necessity
The essence of this article is to address the lack of insensitivity suffered by the expectant and nursing women in our society from three fronts. The fronts are basically the office, the homes and the society at large. Women and children have been identified as the most vulnerable group in the society; this is not because they don’t have the capacity to become vociferous contributors to national growth. It is simply because it is the way nature has made it to be.
In actual fact, as is well known, most of the successes attributable to the men couldn’t have been possible without the women. This is hardly debatable any longer in most societies of the world. It is sensed and indeed observed that women wield silent powers even when they do not say a word. In offices females have served as effective administrators, secretaries and have contributed to the growth of their various organisations. Unfortunately, most women have lost their jobs as a result of pregnancy or delivery.
In most offices, company policies have not properly catered for pregnant women. There is no adequate provision for maternity leave or allowances to cater for female staff during maternity. Most pregnancies have been lost owing to stress suffered from work place. In their month of delivery for example they were either given very few days off before delivery or not given at all. As a result, on the day of labour the baby in the womb is born worn out and the pregnancy ends up in still birth.
There are several established cases when women who went for maternity were not re-absorbed on their return. They and their newly born child are not fully welcomed after maternity. The cry of the baby around the office environment becomes an irritation to the office. This lack of insensitivity to women and children at the office front is a crime against humanity. It needs to be addressed forthwith. Offices must establish such policies that accord enough time for maternity, not less than a total of four months before and after delivery. The policy should accommodate provision for leave allowance during the period.
In the home front, some husbands need to be sensitive to their expectant wives. A very good understanding of the reproductive system of a woman is necessary to offering them the desired care and attention, especially during pregnancy. Most husbands fail to attend some sessions of ante-natal care with their wives; they also fail to attend family planning counselling sessions with their wives. Therefore, they are not sensitive to the immediate biological needs of the woman.
During pregnancies, there are changes in the biological system of a woman and these affect her emotionally. At this stage some level of care and understanding needs to be shown to the woman, in order to make her remain stable during and after delivery. Husbands have been known to have abandoned their wives at the point of delivery. Among the reasons often given for such a bad conduct is the level of charges imposed on them in the hospital. This crass show of insensitivity is as a result of their lack of proper planning against the delivery day of their spouses. It is expected that a husband understands the situation or condition of his wife and makes adequate savings against the date of delivery.
If a wife is to put to bed through caesarean session as a result of complications, the husband should be aware of the financial implication and make adequate provisions for it. He can source for help through family and friends rather than taking the exit door.
The society at large, too, has displayed some level of insensitivity to expectant mothers and their babies. Some women in this state have been subjected to the same rigours suffered by others. They are made to join long queues and there is lack of consideration for them in public transportation etc. Drivers of public transport most times don’t care when carrying pregnant women. They run furiously, indeed, recklessly into potholes without consideration whatsoever for this category of women. In public places where people need to wait for hours such as banks, it is the same story of lack of sensitivity. There are no reserved treatments for expectant mothers. This display of insensitivity has led some women to faint or lose their babies in situations like this.
The government is also blameable. It has displayed insensitivity to pregnant women and their babies with non-provision of affordable vaccines and immunisation in hospitals. The costs of the vaccines administered are hardly affordable. In most cases they are said to be free but when it is time to access them the women are told that they are not available, they end up getting them from private hospitals at high rates. The level of insensitivity shown to pregnant women is also noticed in the sighting of primary health centres. The distance between health centres and the community in most local government areas is far. In such cases most women are forced to deliver at home. The society must give pride of place to nursing mothers and care for them as much as possible. The government and the private sector must work hand in glove to fund primary health care services to expectant women and make them freely available.
For those sensitive employers, husbands and citizens who are already showing enough care to the pregnant women and their babies, they should keep it up, and for those whose insensitivity this article has tried to stir up they should turn a new leaf. This is necessary because a healthy mother and baby would give us a healthy society and a future of our dream.
• Nweke is the Assistant Finance Officer, Centre for Social Justice. Tel: 07033768689
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