I am a girl-child, I am a woman, and it is my right to be educated on reproductive, sexual, and maternal health.
I began my journey seeking to be a mother immediately I got married in the month of June 2011. No one told me it was going to be difficult or tough. The much I knew about sexual, reproductive and maternal health was what I had learned from my Nation Youth Service year where I volunteered as a Peer Education Trainer and biology lessons from my days in secondary school. I knew nothing about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), infertility, and miscarriage; I was not well equipped with the necessary knowledge to face the first three years after marriage. Four years after marriage, I had gone through about five (5) miscarriages, learnt that I had PCOS, and that I was battling with infertility. How can I forget to mention that I am married to a good man, my best friend and, my number one fan? My husband was my number one support during those long years, especially the first three years; we both had to turn to books and specialist doctors to have a good understanding of why we had no child of our own.
In the society I live, everything that happens to you is attributed to having been as a result of metaphysical forces and, ''your perceived enemies''...I was advised to pray, while some advised my husband to get another woman pregnant. Thank goodness we shared our pains and resisted ill advice. Alas, in 2014, I got pregnant (thanks to science and education on reproductive and sexual health). In the month of June 2015, I delivered a handsome baby boy. Then, I realised I had no education in maternal and new-born health! I had to learn from the mistakes I made.
In the course of my journey to motherhood, I learnt the importance of maternal, new-born, sexual, and reproductive health education. Close to my delivery, I heard many terrible stories from other women about the high rate of negligence in Nigerian hospitals...a friend of mine was delivered of a baby boy in one of the University Teaching Hospitals in Nigeria and they forgot a swab of cotton in the surgical cut and she was stitched up with it in her...she had several complications and when she had gone through several doctors to find out what the problem was, it was finally found that she had a cotton swab stitched in her...she was just saved in the nick time before it got rotten in her. The rate of medical negligence in both public and private hospitals is alarming and, the fact that women are quite illiterate when it comes to maternal, sexual, reproductive and new-born health, leaves them ignorant of the fact that they have rights and they can/should demand for their rights. Several women have died as it is perceived in many circles that a woman must deliver like the ''Hebrew woman'' thus, several women lose their lives trying to deliver like the ''Hebrew woman'' while trying to avoid having a Caesarean section even when faced with a life/death situation; for fear of what their in-laws or husband, or religious group, or even society at large would say, that they are not woman enough. As my delivery got closer, I was approached by several women and advised to deliver with local midwives to avoid having a delivery via Caesarean section so, I would be among the women who delivered like the ''Hebrew women''. My question was and still is, how many Nigerian women have witnessed a Hebrew woman giving birth? I have come to the conclusion that the rate of ignorance and illiteracy as regards sexual, reproductive and maternal health is at an alarming rate and to reduce infant and maternal mortality, women must be properly educated in this area and advocacy efforts should be intensified especially in the rural areas.
This post was submitted in response to Putting the Spotlight on Maternal and Reproductive Health.