There is no doubt that unplanned pregnancy triggers population growth and consequently causes many families headaches.
• Couples urged to embrace family planning
An Ibadan, Oyo State-based petty trader, Mrs. Clara Akinwunmi, a mother of six, has four girls and two boys. And she is currently pregnant.
She confessed that her current pregnancy came by “mistake” and she is emotionally not prepared to go through the antenatal and postnatal routines for the seventh time.
She told the reporter that she had vowed that her sixth child would be her last.
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She said her husband equally gave a nod to the decision. However, one vital thing was missing in the resolution. They both failed to plan on how they would go about stopping more children from coming, since the woman was still of childbearing age.
When Mrs. Akinwunmi was asked at the government hospital the type of family planning she embraced, since she was protesting that the pregnancy came uninvited, she was speechless. She admitted that she took none. She said she had only avoided sex during her ovulation period, and could not explain how the method failed her.
Recently, at the Ifako-Ijaiye General Hospital, Lagos, a woman in her late 40s walked into the paediatric ward with a protruding stomach. Upon sighting her, the nurse on duty screamed, “you again!” It was gathered that the pregnancy was the fifth for the woman.
The nurse demanded to know why the woman did not adhere to the family planning method suggested to her and her husband after their fourth child. It was learnt that the woman’s last delivery resulted led to complications that endangered her chances of having another safe delivery. The doctor then advised the woman to stop childbearing.
Apparently, Nigeria’s population seems to be hampering its economic expansion. There has been a consistent decline in the development of critical infrastructure, including education, potable water, roads, stable power supply and housing.
Experts have recommended family planning as a panacea to the increasing population in Nigeria. This, according to them, would be beneficial to the individual as well as the country.
At a community secondary school in Ile-Iwe, Agbado Oke-Odo Local Council Development Area, Lagos, an average of 150 students cram into a classroom meant for 30 people. It is learning in tears for the students, as many stand by the windows throughout the lecture periods. There is no doubt that unplanned pregnancy triggers population growth and consequently causes many families headaches.
The need for family planning was re-echoed in this year’s World Population Day, with the theme “Family Planning is a Human Right.” It was a reminder to the first proclamation on family planning as a human right made on May 13, 1968, at the conclusion of the United Nations International Conference on Human Rights. Unfortunately, many Nigerians have ignored the call, while others simply treat the subject with disdain.
According to a demographic survey in 2016, an average Nigerian woman has the potential to bear more than five children. There are worries over the inexactness of Nigeria’s population. It was recently estimated to be about 198 million.
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Demographers have argued that, if the country does not know what its population is, government cannot budget properly and effectively for provision of services. They maintained that it would always lead to inadequacy in the provision of electricity, water, transport, roads, education and health services, and thus hamper economic development.
Due to the bulging population, many parents in the lower social level, often in overcrowded accommodation and unemployed, are no longer able to care for their children; neither can they guide the younger ones to become law-abiding citizens. So, they become a law unto themselves, and some have become a terror to their own families and society.
“The pace of growth in Africa is unlike anything else ever in history and a critical problem, especially where there are no commensurate public facilities on ground,” Joel E. Cohen, a professor of population at Rockefeller University, New York, United States of America, was quoted as saying.
But most Africans have always damned the consequences of population explosion. This is not unconnected with the fact that they, Nigerians inclusive, love having children, as many as possible. Some couples simply believe that one cannot question God who brings children. They contend that the same creator will provide the enablement to cater to the needs of such children.
The founder and chief executive officer of the first breast cancer awareness network in Nigeria, Care, Organisation and Public Enlightenment (COPE), Mrs. Ebunola Anozie, advised couples to only have the number of children that they can take care of and conveniently offer a meaningful life to. According to her, it is time for awareness campaigns on family planning to be intensified by government, the media and non-governmental organisations, especially at the grassroots level.
“With different challenges that Nigeria is grappling with, it would be wise for couples to give birth to the number of children they can conveniently train. There is a shortage of health care facilities and other infrastructure in Nigeria. So, every reasonable Nigerian should embrace family planning for his or her own benefit,” she said.
Medical practitioners have said that, apart from checking astronomical population rise, research shows that use of family planning save lives, reduces risks of unsafe abortion and prevents unplanned pregnancies and complications. It has also proven to prevent at least 34 per cent of maternal deaths.
No wonder, unwanted pregnancies, deaths from abortions, abandoned babies, criminal activities, militancy and violence at home and on the streets are on the increase in Nigeria. Research has also shown that frustration from poverty and unemployment can trigger many negative emotions.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that family planning allows individuals and couples to anticipate and attain their desired number of children and the spacing and timing of births. According to the world health body, this could be achieved through the use of contraceptive methods.
Some family planning methods available in various clinics in Lagos are implants, injectables, lactation, pills, condoms, amenorrhoea, and the irreversible ones like bilateral tubal ligation and vasectomy. Mrs. Taiwo Olubunmi, a 42-year-old mother of four, is among several mothers who are reaping the benefits of using family planning in Alapere, Agboyi-Ketu, Lagos.
She said she was delighted with the use of the implant method of family planning. She has been enjoying sex with her husband without fear of getting pregnant since she embraced the method. She, however, gave kudos to her husband for supporting the family planning process.
Another user, Mrs. Omolola Ahmed, a 29-year-old mother of two, said she was fulfilled using family planning.
Said she: “I chose the implant to adequately space my children. After I gave birth to my first child, I became pregnant after six months. Taking care of the baby with pregnancy was not easy for me and I don’t want to make such a mistake again.”
Also, a 32-year-old mother of three, Mrs. Abimbola Francis, said: “For me and my husband to have another child in this kind of economic situation in the country would be a financial burden. As we all know, excess children automatically call for excess spending and if we do not meet up with the needs of the children they will end up becoming wayward.”
A family planning expert, provider and facilitator, Mrs. Abiola Adekoya, stressed the importance of family planning, noting that it offers unlimited benefits to every woman who adopts any of the methods. She added that family planning was a tool for safe motherhood that saves lives and brings about healthy families.
Mr. Usunobun Edwin told the reporter on the telephone that he agreed with his wife to family planning after four children. He said his wife easily got pregnant and would not want any more children because their first child already has two children.
Another supporter of family planning is a 49-year-old mother of nine, Usman Aishat. She said she was initially afraid of what people would say about the method but confessed that, two years after embracing family planning, she has been living well and enjoying sex with her husband without worries.