How family planning can promote maternal and child health
The decision to have a child is full of excitement and hope. Bringing a child into the world can be one of the most important and meaningful decisions a woman makes in her lifetime. But childbearing also comes with many risks, particularly for women who live in developing countries, as they are more likely to face challenges during pregnancy and birth.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 99% of maternal deaths occur in developing countries, and most of the causes are preventable.
When a woman is pregnant there are a multitude of complications that can arise, especially if the woman is very young, older, or has more than four children. The leading cause of death for girls ages 15-19 is complications from pregnancy and childbirth. Complications during pregnancy and childbirth can leave children without mothers, or mothers grieving the loss of their children.
Something that can help avoid these issues is family planning. However, women in developing countries are often unable to choose if or when they have children. This is due to a myriad of problems that women in poor communities face, including lack of access to information or services about contraceptives and fertility, as well as gender-based pressures and barriers.
This is where family planning programs can help: they can provide education about how to become pregnant at the right time, encourage safe spacing of pregnancies, and enable access to different types of birth control. Family planning in poor communities empowers women to make fully informed decisions about childbearing, as well as reduces their health risks and unintended pregnancies. It’s estimated that family planning could actually prevent 35 million abortions and 76,000 maternal deaths.
In developing countries, 214 million women who desire to avoid pregnancy are not using safe family planning methods. Yet, many of these women want to limit their family size or increase spacing between children.
At One Day’s Wages, we’re partnering with Heartline Ministries in Haiti, an organization tackling the issues of maternal and child mortality from several angles. Their mission is to strengthen Haitian families and prevent children from becoming orphans through initiatives that empower Haitians with maternal and infant health care, education, vocational training, economic development, and Christian outreach. Through this partnership, 60 vulnerable women plus their children will receive lifesaving maternal and child health care, including family planning information and services.
Family planning empowers women and their families to make informed choices. It’s more than contraception, it’s the power of knowing that you can keep your family safe and healthy.
Jessinia Ruff is a student at Seattle Pacific University and an ODW Blog Contributor.
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