COVID-19 frustrates our family planning efforts, Lagos housewives lament

At the antenatal section of Oak Hospital in Ikorodu area of Lagos state, Mummy Peace, a mother of four, related how her resolve to stop childbearing has been truncated by the COVID-19 pandemic. As she lamented the hardship of caring for her four children under the current economic situation, she agonised over the ordeal of another pregnancy.

Mummy Peace was quite unhappy as she narrated how the lockdown prevented her from visiting any healthcare facility to access essential family planning service when she needed it most.

“I have been on contraceptive pills in the last two years but the restriction on movement during the COVID-19 lockdown in Lagos caused me an unintended pregnancy.

“Worse still, my husband’s decision to utilise the withdrawal method of contraception failed because now I’m pregnant,” she stated.Joke Abikoye, another pregnant woman in her early 20’s who walked into the reception area with an infant in her arms, also expressed her anguish at getting pregnant as a result of the lockdown.“I will very likely name this unborn child Coro Baby because I didn’t intend to get pregnant now,” she remarked.

Joke stated that both she and her husband did not take pride in the development. “During antenatal, I was counseled on family planning and immediately after delivery I opted for Sayana – a three months injection, but due to the lockdown, I couldn’t come in to renew it, so we opted for withdrawal which failed.”At Oladapo Medical Centre in Ijede, Rita Nwokejiobi said after her fifth child, she and her husband decided to stop.“But during the lockdown, he was home throughout and we were having sex to pass the time. Although we made use of condoms occasionally and I took some pills afterward, all I know is that I eventually got pregnant.”

Rita, who regretted the situation said she had already given away all the baby clothes and other baby things.“My husband is not making money like before and my income also is affected. To feed the five children at home is a very difficult task, yet we are adding another to make it six.”A family planning provider at the Oak Hospital, Nurse Oluwaseun explained that the emergency of Covid-19 has affected not the only family planning but all services in general, even as she hailed the capacity building efforts by the Post Pregnancy Family Planning, PPFP experts.

“Before COVID 19, on average we usually had about 50 clients but during the lockdown, most of the clients on pills were unable to come here for renewal because of fear of infection. The number of our clients actually dropped to 30.”She admitted that some patients who attended the antenatal clinic became pregnant during the lockdown.“I know of two of our patients that said they got pregnant as a result of COVID-19. They were on pills but because of the lockdown were unable to come to the clinic.

“One is 38, with four children, now she is pregnant again; the other one has three children. Both women didn’t plan to have more children, however, there are few women that fall into this category here.”Oluwaseun said that after the training by PPFP, the hospital upgraded services and they have prioritised family planning counseling during pregnancy, immediately after delivery, and during immunisation.“Through the capacity building by PPFP we have made progress in dispelling myths and misconceptions about family planning. In an aspect of commodity, with the collaboration between our hospital, PPFP and DKT we are never out of stock.

“Even if the client shows interest but doesn’t have enough money, we assist them in our own little way just to encourage them. The majority of their clients prefer implant of three years and five years.”Nurse Omowunmi Kanzudeen who is in charge of counseling and sensitizing women on reproductive health and family planning said that majority of the clients didn’t visit the health facility during the lockdown.“I know three patients that registered with our hospital but they got pregnant due to the lockdown. One is nursing a 4-month-old baby, another has a nine-month-old, while the third has a baby that is just over a year.

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