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Women Birth a New Vision for Maternity Care

Recommendation: Seek Support from Male Allies


NIGERIA: What I Learned From my Mother

I always wondered why my mother separated from my father. It took years for her to tell me why she had to leave. According to her, my father neither cared for her nor showed her love while she was pregnant. My mother lost three pregnancies before giving birth to me, and on those occasions my father was not around to give her the love, care, and support she needed to overcome the trauma of miscarriage. Instead, he always complained about the money he had to pay at the hospital.

She said the breaking point was when she gave birth to me, and she had complications that almost took her life after childbirth. Rather than focusing on how the doctors could help her to survive, he was busy questioning my paternity. This was because I was "very dark" in complexion and my father is very fair in complexion.

My mother’s story was a nightmare for me; I kept wondering why my father was displaying such gross irresponsibility at a time when she needed him most. I thought my father was the most wicked man on earth—until my mother tried having another husband. The man was very kind until my mother got pregnant. That was the last we saw of him.

As if this was not enough, my mother tried a third time at having a husband, which led to more tragedy. After impregnating my mom, the man took off again and my mother was left to raise all of us children alone.

The men in my mother’s life represent one category of men who do not value women and their childbearing roles in our society—but they are not representative of all men. I have been privileged to work with many male allies who value and care for women. They are remarkably different to the men in my mother’s life. They have love in their hearts and are able to feel the pains that women experience during pregnancy and childbirth.

All over Nigeria, the work of our male allies is making a difference for women. In Kano and Kaduna States, male members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers provide emergency transportation to health facilities for women in labor. This project has helped save the lives of many women who otherwise would have died as a result of pregnancy-related complications. The men who are involved in these activities have reported that they are increasingly more appreciative of the value of childbearing and the importance of their own supportive roles. They will likely not treat their pregnant wives the way the men in my mother’s life treated her.

Men’s active participation in caring for their wives, girlfriends, or mistresses during pregnancies is key to finding solutions to maternal mortality challenges in Nigeria. Men can and should play a role in addressing maternal mortality in Nigeria. Many a time, the lack of care and love exhibited by men towards the pregnant women in their lives makes childbearing a traumatic and risky venture for women.

No matter how well equipped our hospitals may be, if the care, love, and support of men is missing, efforts at reducing maternal death will continue to be a mirage.

Today, I celebrate my mother for her resilience and bravery, and I celebrate all women who labor to bring the next generation into the world. Moreover, I celebrate the men who stand with women to put an end to the deplorable conditions pregnant women face.

Titilope | Nigeria


Rhobai's picture


Exactly. You are to the point

sowershouse's picture


So, it happens too in Lagos. Even here in Abuja, in one of these Government hospitals, the story is horrible! I am still not sure if these nurses know the meaning of the name they are called- midwives, and the symbolism of the uniform they wear- white. Well, I am not here to preach. May God forgive them, all the same.

Jacquiline's picture

Horrific state

I must confess that I am sad reading this story to the point I ask my self does this really happen? I have given birth twice and I have never experienced any bad situation.

The hospital where I go to deliver is very clean and has very respectful staff and the price is well lets say friendly to the pocket(affordable).

I thank God for our country and the far we have come and PRAY that God will instil discipline in the hearts of midwives and nurses to always be careful of how they treat mothers to be and the babies to be born.

olutosin's picture

It was worse

I did not mention my first two nights before the delivery date, I only started from the delivery room. The day I began to experience labour and the water burst was not the day I delivered, I slept at the back of a PICK UP PEUGEOT VEHICLE in the premises of the hospital. It was my first labour, I was afraid to go back home in case the baby decides to force her way our along the road and there was no bed for those who are yet to deliver their babies.

My husband sat down all night watching over me and scaring the mosquitoes away. My experience with Medical Center even after delivery, if narrated will be considered as tarnishing the image of my country. Government hospitals are cheaper, but then, I will never take such risk again.

My conclusion is just solution, not narrating heart-breaking experiences. transformation and not apportioning blames. I have experienced it, I survived, how other women and my daughters too, will not experience same is my concern.

Thank so much for the comments.

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale
Founder/Project Coordinator
Star of Hope Transformation Centre
512 Road
F Close
Festac Town


Heartrending story Olutosin. I applaud your ability to rise above this and actually use your life as a means to achieve social change!

This is and even more heartrending because it is the stark reality for so many women... I was speaking to a friend who gave a similar experience about having the nursing staff try to push back her baby into her because the staff and labour ward weren't ready yet!

We shall overcome

Maternal Health Channel
Asking questions. Seeking solutions. Saving lives

oreoluwa's picture


Hi Titi,

This is a wonderful write-up and recognition of the role that men play in creating a better world for women. To make any long-lasting and sustainable change, we need to have both men and women on board and working together.

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