You Ask, She Answers: What can women do to avoid being victims of maternal death?
Question: Are there dos and don’ts when choosing a clinic? Are there questions we should ask to protect ourselves from the inadequacies in the system? Is there anything at all, no matter how small we can do to reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim?
Answer By Jayne Whyte
On how women can choose a clinic or health facility for care, I would always say that the best person for a pregnant woman is an experienced and skilled midwife, for normal pregnancies and childbirths. A clinic (whether private or public) must have an experienced and skilled midwife in attendance (round the clock).
In situations of complications or emergency (or those pregnancies that may be prone to complications), the woman may be advised or referred to an obstetrician who is skilled and experienced to deal with such complications. In effect, the pregnant woman may require receiving care at a higher level facility (public or private hospitals – general or tertiary hospital) closest to the family.
One should not choose a health facility just by the size of the buildings, name of the facility or name of the doctor who owns the facility. One needs to check out on the facility to make sure that it serves the expected purposes. Certain questions may be asked about its staffing (caliber and number, services provided, hours of services, care availability at odd hours of the day, and availability of the doctors, what types of doctors, etc.
It is also good to visit its maternity ward and the in-patients may be asked questions about their experiences. For women who have friends who have used the facility, these friends can serve as information source. I would not go to a facility because it is a “high-profile” place. I would go to a facility, that has been adjudged to provide quality services and not because of its name.
Every mother must understand her basic rights to quality skilled care. Nigerian mothers should be bold enough to ask questions about their health and wellbeing when they visit the clinics. It is when we begin to exercise our rights to information and rights to make choices on matters concerning our health that we will begin to have health providers respecting our views and needs. The midwives and doctors are there to serve us. I must emphasize that they are employed to do so.
We can begin to use these rights effectively too, if only we can make a little effort to seek the necessary information and engage in positive behaviours. Such positive behaviours and actions that will eliminate those factors, listed above, that contribute to unnecessary vulnerabilities and maternal deaths. Every mother must recognize emergencies and immediately respond by going to the designated hospital for right interventions. Every health designated facility must be well equipped to provide emergency newborn and obstetric care. Every heath worker must be ready to give friendly quality care to every mother in need, irrespective of the woman’s social status and location (rural or urban) in Nigeria.
We have the potentials to reduce maternal and newborn deaths in Nigeria. All we need is for everyone to endeavor to make every mother and child count in the family, health facility and in the nation at large. Together, we can make Nigeria a safe place for all mothers in pregnancy and childbirth.
Jane Whyte is a young blogger, Maternal Health Advocate, Entrepreneur, Program Officer who is so Passionate about the health and well being of women and children, and loves God. She blogs at http://jaynewhyte.blogspot.com/ and tweets as @jaynewhyte