Mothers Debunk Family Planning Myths, Share Success Stories

From left: Mrs. Abiola Adekoya, a family planning expert, provider and facilitator and some women in Agboyi-ketu area of Lagos State who have embraced family planning.

Chioma Umeha

In many modern African societies where the economy is consistently on the downward trend, raising healthy and happy children poses a great challenge.
Research has also shown that unplanned pregnancies in the absence of family planning triggers population growth in many countries of the world. This is worsened by the poor state of healthcare in many African countries like Nigeria, giving rise to increase in child and maternal death rates.
In view of this, there have been growing calls for all countries to curb population explosions by adopting family planning methods. This is in line with this year’s World Population Day theme, “Family Planning is a Human Right.” Analysts believe that the entrenchment of Family Planning (FP) as a human right by every country of the world would make FP accessible to every woman who needs it.
However, for some women in Agboyi-ketu area of Lagos State, the use of contraceptive remain an effective tool that regulates frequent births and also brings about desired family size.
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, Agoyi-Ketu Local Council Development Area (LCDA) of the state.
The joyful mother of four said that she is delighted with the use of implant method of FP. She told DAILY INDEPENDENT during a recent field trip to the area organised by Pathfinder International, “I have been enjoying sex with my husband without fear of getting pregnant since I started using the implant method of family planning. I now have peace of mind unlike before, and knowing that I have nothing to worry about my unplanned pregnancy.
“All these are possible because my husband supported this family planning process. It is our right to decide the number of children that we want to have. ”
Similarly, Mrs. Oluwatoyin Ajewole said that the use of contraceptive method has saved her and her husband from having more children than they could cater for.
Visibly elated, Oluwatoyin said, “You can see I have six children already which is even too much. When I had my sixth child, one matron came to me and told me to use family planning otherwise I would soon give birth to the seventh one. I said, God forbid, the sixth one was even a mistake. But because I get pregnant easily, I was afraid and had to listen to the matron who is a retired nurse. The matron counselled me and then introduced me to the Intra Uterine Contraceptive Device (IUCD), assuring me that it would last longer,” she added. IUCD is a long acting reversible contraception that goes into the uterus.
Oluwatoyin, a business woman, further said, “Though I was having some side effects from it initially, I am happy for it because my body has adjusted to it. Thanks to the matron as I now enjoy sex with my husband without fear of getting pregnant.”
Another user, Mrs. Omolola Ahmed, a 29-year- old mother of two said she is fulfilled using family planning.
Omolola said that the method has provided her double benefit of quality living for her two children and planned pregnancy.
Apparently excited, she said, “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 mistake again,” she added.

Studies have shown that infants born to women who conceived less than six months after giving birth had a 40 per cent increased risk of being born prematurely and a 61 per cent increased risk of low birth weight as compared with infants born to mothers who gave birth after 18 months or two years between pregnancies.
Another user, a mother of two, Mrs. Adeyemi Temitope, told DAILY INDEPENDENT that she is on implant. Temitope who is currently using implant method said, “I was introduced to implant at the Primary Healthcare Centre, Mascara. I did some tests before the implant was inserted and I have been enjoying it. Since then, I am fine and enjoying myself. I am looking fresh and better, I enjoy every style of sex with my husband without complaining.”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that family planning allows individuals and couples to anticipate and attained their desired number of children and the spacing and timing of their births. According to the world health body, this could be achieved through the use of contraceptive methods.
The 2013 National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) shows that Nigeria’s Total Fertility Rate (TFR) was 5.5 per cent, which family planning experts have warned would undermine the growth of the nation unless this is urgently addressed.
Similarly, 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 that 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.”
Research shows that use of family planning methods save lives, reduces risk of unsafe abortion and prevents unplanned pregnancies and their complications, besides the economic gains.
Experts have confirmed that family planning could prevent at least 34 per cent maternal death if every government would embark upon scaling up of family planning services as one of the maternal survival strategy.
Olubunmi, Oluwatoyin, Omolala, Temitope and Abimbola are examples of 1.44 million Nigerian women of reproductive age who are successfully using family planning.
There are over 7.3 million Women of Reproductive Age (WRA) who are currently non-users of family planning.
The overall goal of the National Family Planning Communication Campaigns was to decrease maternal and infant morbidity and mortality rates in Nigeria by focusing on increasing the knowledge of over 7.3 million WRA who are currently non-users with needs for modern family planning methods not yet met.
However, campaign which was geared to enhance the achievement of the national Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) target of 36 per cent by December 2018 was not met.
Mrs. Abiola Adekoya, a family planning expert, provider and facilitator, stressed on the importance of family planning, noting that it offers unlimited benefits to every woman who adopts any of the methods.
Some family planning methods available in various clinics in Lagos are implants, injectables, lactation, pills, condoms, Amenorrhea, patch, ring, bead and the irreversible ones like bilateral tubal ligation and vasectomy.
She advised providers of family planning services to counsel the clients on the various methods available and the side effects, so that they can make informed choices.
Adekoya who is also a resident and social worker in Agboyi-Ketu, told DAILY INDEPENDENT during a press briefing in the LCDA that the use of family planning enables mothers and their babies to be healthier, and avoid risky pregnancies.
The veteran in family planning said she had trained over 120 health workers on family planning, assuring that she would continue to raise awareness on family planning considering its numerous health and economic benefits to individuals and the entire country.
She said, “In my community here, I have introduced many women to family planning and they are embracing it. Family planning is a tool for safe motherhood. It saves lives. It brings about healthy family.”
The 56-year-old mother of four, however, identified lack of budget line for consumables as a major factor affecting women from coming out to totally embrace family planning.
Nigeria hopes to attain its 28 percent contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) by 2020.
The Family Planning (FP) 2020 goal is designed to enable 120 million women and girls have informed choice and access to family planning information and a range of modern contraceptive methods.
The 2013 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) reported contraceptive prevalence rate of 48 per cent for all methods in Lagos State. Lagos State is required to hit a target of 74 per cent to enable Nigeria meet the national CPR target by 2018.
Commenting, Mr. Eze Duruiheoma,  the Chairman, National Population Commission (NPC) said that family planning prevents unintended pregnancies and in turn reduces health risks at childbirth and recourse of unsafe abortions.
However, Duruiheoma observed that the benefits of family planning goes beyond saving lives, but as instrument for empowering people and developing nations.
He said family planning which is included in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can help in “achieving many of the goals and this depends on the ability of women to exercise their reproductive rights.
“But increase in the right of women and girls to decide freely and for themselves, on whether, when and how many children to have, afford women and girls more opportunities to become wage earners, thereby boosting family income levels,” he said.
Duruiheoma remarked that the theme of this year’s World Population Day which focused on family planning as a human right was a reminder to the first proclamation on FP as a Human Right made on May 13, 1968, at the conclusion of the United Nations International Conference on Human rights.
According to him, 20 years after, the 1994 International Conference on Population Development (ICPD) in Cairo reaffirmed the declaration with a rider and to have information and ensuring informed choices as well made available a full range of safe and effective methods.
The NPC boss also said that the ICPD programme of action allowed the rights to be exercised by all couples and individuals, adding that FP is the first and last step in managing population.