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. 

Topic Health

This post was submitted in response to Putting the Spotlight on Maternal and Reproductive Health.

Comments

Bara - Not knowing about your own body before, during and after pregnancy is frightening. Women want to know and understand their bodies. They must be allowed to learn with reliable information in addition to the advice of members of the community. Good information is different from good advice.

Jamie Ross PhD. Philosophy Assistant Professor Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies Department Portland State University 503-725-8370 (o) rossj@pdx.edu

 

Hi Jamie, thank you for your comment. Information and education on maternal and sexual/reproductive rights is like a taboo in many homes. It is just not talked about. Many young women have no access to good information. Thank you for reading my story.

Bara.

, yes this is why your work is so important and helpful. Thank you. 

Jamie Ross PhD. Philosophy Assistant Professor Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies Department Portland State University 503-725-8370 (o) rossj@pdx.edu

 

Dear Bara,

I am so excited for your new born. May he bring joy and happiness to your family forever.

I have found your article to be very sincere and timely. I am particularly in agreement with your observation on the rise of medical negligence in Nigerian hospitals. Women are usually at the receiving end as I have observed. Apart from general ignorance of our reproductive health and rights, the system does not really support justice for women.

There is a particular case which got to the Supreme Court of Nigeria a few years ago - Felicia Ojo v. Dr Gharoro & Uniben Teaching Hospital. A woman diagnosed with secondary infertility, uterine fibroid and menorrhagia was advised to undergo a surgical operation, which she consented to. A surgical needle was broken in the course of the surgery and the doctors were unable to get it out...they closed her up and wheeled her out of the medical theatre! More shocking was the fact that on some technical ground, all 3 courts held that they could not find any medical negligence in this case.

With precedents like this, women are definitely discouraged to stand for their rights. Education is paramount, but we also need systematic change to support justice for women.

Stay Amazing!

Ola.

Founder, Girl Pride Circle

olaoluwaabagun@ymail.com

We all die. The goal is not to live forever, but to create something that will.

Thank you for your comment Ola. It is rather a sorry situation. I am of the belief that we must continue to advocate for our rights. It may take a while, but, it is my belief that we will prevail.

Bara.

Bara, I really like this sentence in your post:

"My question was and still is, how many Nigerian women have witnessed a Hebrew woman giving birth?"

Exactly! .... People just repeat what they have been told, without knowing. And so the ignorance and the cycle continues. Thank you for speaking out and challenging the status quo and the norms. It is women like you who will break those cycles and in turn help other women.

And congratulations on delivering a healthy boy. So excited and happy for you!

Take care and continue to speak out. Your voice is important and it is heard. 

 

Alexandra

Hi Bara, 

I have a dear friend who encountered a similar experience. It seems many women are not alone in having to learn about the fundamentals of their bodies through trial and error! Thanks for sharing your story, and for highlighting that even amidst your own struggles, you overcame these difficulties. It is inspiring, but you also raise essential question that need to be considered by the readers. Thank you!

 

~Dana 

Hi Dana,

Thank you for reading my story. This encourages me to make out time to write more often.

Best Regards,

Bara.

Bara.