Women in Keke makeri community in Kaduna State, have attributed their poor attendance of antenatal care to lack of health facilities in their community.
The women also decried lack of access road to the nearest Primary Health Center which is about 40 kilometres from the village. Some of the women who spoke in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) lamented the high rate of miscarriages in the community and life threatening incidences involving expectant mothers and children.
One of them, Mrs Hauwa Musa, who is a mother of four, said she had never gone for antenatal care, preferring to give birth at home. “I don’t go for any antenatal classes, because we don’t have any health center here. I prefer the traditional method where we get attention and give birth safely,” she said.
According to her, she had suffered five miscarriages due to lack of health facility before she was able to give birth to her first child. Another woman, Mrs Jamila Usman, said she went for antenatal only once when she was opportune to be in the city for a visit. ” I never knew anything about antenatal class, until I came to the city to visit my relative who took me to the hospital,” she said.
Mrs Usman said giving birth at home was the only option she had in the community since there was no health facility in the area. Fatima Aliyu, another mother of five also said most women in the community suffered incessant miscarriages, due to lack of health facility and bad road. ”The roads here are bad and we cannot be trekking daily to access health care service in a far place.
We prefer to stay at home and wait for our traditional birth attendants to help us. She added that, ”women in this area suffer a lot during childbirth. We lost our sister here last year due to complications during labour. “Labour came with complications that our traditional birth attendants could not handle and no nearby health facility within the neighborhood.
“To access health delivery facilities, we have to travel to hospitals in Kawo or Barau Dikko, in Kaduna City; a journey of at least two hours,” she said.
The community appealed to the state government to assist residents with social amenities so as to reduce maternal deaths in the area.
According to Aliyu, the nearest health care centre is in Keke B, about 10 kilometres away from the community.
She added that women were transported by motorcycles to the Keke B facility even though the road is bad.
“As a result, our women record incessant miscarriages while attempting to visit the healthcare centre, and not only that, we equally lose children under five years due to absence of healthcare services,” she said.
Mrs Aliyu lamented that the community lacks basic healthcare facilities that would ensure quality life and the survival of children.
A medical doctor, Nuhu Yusuf, however, advised women to always go for antenatal, no matter the difficulties to avoid complications during labour or birth.
“Most women have their first and longest antenatal check- up between weeks 8 and 12 of pregnancy. The earlier you start attending antenatal check-ups the better.
“You should attend antenatal check-ups once a month until 28 weeks, then twice a month until you are 36 weeks pregnant,” he said.
Dr. Yusuf added that more awareness should be created for rural women on the importance of attending antenatal classes, to reduce death of mothers and children in the state. Yusuf said antenatal care plays an important role to achieving a successful labour and delivery process.
“Regular antenatal classes help in the physical and mental preparedness of women and help them relax during those last months. “Antenatal care ensures maternal foetal health wellbeing and also prepares women physically fit for labour, delivery and the postpartum period,” he said.
Yusuf said regular visits to hospital during pregnancy were aimed to ensure that the health of the pregnant women and the growing foetus were well maintained. “When all stays well and proper care is taken, the pregnancy is generally at low risk. “Normal labour and delivery depend on good physical and mental preparation during the antenatal period. The pregnant woman is taught good breathing exercises, relaxation techniques and muscle toning exercises.
According to him, attending an antenatal clinic early in pregnancy is important for two reasons.
“First, if pregnant women attends the clinic in the first three months of their pregnancy, HIV can be detected early and they can begin treatment.
“This makes it less likely that their babies will contact HIV. It also helps to support their own immune system, which decreases the chance of infections before or after birth.
“Second, early attendance allows doctors to treat and manage other treatable health conditions that the mother-to-be may develop, include high blood pressure and anemia, which are also major risk factors for maternal deaths.
“The importance of antenatal care antenatal classes can be very beneficial for expecting parents – whether you’re having a natural birth, a second baby or even a C-Section, “the doctor said.
He added: “Antenatal care is an essential part of pregnancy and should start as soon as you find out you’re expecting.
“Having a healthy pregnancy is one of the best ways to promote a healthy birth and so attending antenatal classes will give you and your partner an opportunity to ask questions you don’t always remember at your regular pregnancy check-ups, and you’ll meet other expecting parents.
“A good time to start these classes is between 22 and 26 weeks, when there’s still sufficient time to make important decisions about caregivers, clinics and birth options,” he said.
According to him, antenatal has many other benefits, including prevention of complications.
“A small minority of pregnant women develop complications such as hypertension and diabetes. Early diagnosis means they can be properly monitored and treated,” Yusuf said.
He added that antenatal care provides caregivers with an opportunity to explain the importance of proper nutrition during pregnancy and breastfeeding to expecting moms.
“Antenatal classes will help expecting parents to gain insight and get fact-based information on pregnancy, birthing options, breastfeeding and caring for a newborn baby so that they can make informed choices,” Yusuf said.
• Kabruk is a correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)
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