In the midst of newlywed bliss Margret Michael and her husband took the time to negotiate important matters for their future. They decided they would have three children, a family size they could both manage and be proud of. A few years down the line things are not working out the way they envisioned.
“For a very long time I have been hoping to see how I will plan my family by spacing my children but I keep giving birth almost every year,” 32-year-old Margret recalls. “This is how fertile I can be…I don’t want to get pregnant. This has been a major worry in my martial home.”
Women across Nigeria face the same outlook as Margret – they desire a way to both please their husband but also space, and even limit, their pregnancies. The burden of initiating this discussion is often placed on wives, who themselves are responsible for broaching the topic of family planning with their husbands. Formative research conducted by NURHI found that when a husband disapproves of family planning it is unlikely his wife will have the efficacy to become a user. Other common barriers to use include belief sin harmful side effects caused by contraceptive methods, fear of infidelity and religious constraints on the use of family planning.
Early in her marriage Margret had only a vague notion of how to plan her family. The information she heard was coupled with scary stories of strife and side effects.
“I used to think that family planning destroys the womb and makes one to add weight. In short, so many side effects even our forefathers forbid it because a woman is meant to give birth to as many as she can,” Margret explains.
This thinking dominated her mindset until she met with a team of social mobilizers representing the Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (NURHI) visiting the Bwari Area of the Federal Capital Territory. The social mobilizers, otherwise known as the ‘Get it Together’ (GIT) crew, are men and women who live and work throughout the urban slums in which NURHI is active. As volunteers they are committed to getting their peers to KNOW about family planning, TALK about family planning and GO for family planning services.
The GIT crew sat down with Margret to explain the full range of family planning options available to her. She was given a referral card directing her to the nearest NURHI-affiliated health facility to learn more about contraceptive methods and to receive proper counseling from a trained family planning service provider. After she and her husband discussed the opportunity and agreed it was best for their family, Margret visited the facility and settled on a method that aligned with her lifestyle and needs.
“I am happy now and my oga (husband) is happy. Now we can enjoy ourselves without worrying about pregnancy. For me, no more pregnancy,” shares Margret with joy.