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Opinions of Sunday, 13 May 2018

Columnist: Benjamin Osei Boateng

Dilemma of a pregnant mother

The declining role of the mother has led to many crisis in the family and hence the society. Among many others is lack of peace and harmony, incidence of instability and abuse of some modern technologies. Undoubtedly, the cultural values of an average Ghanaian family are fast eroding.

For most women, pregnancy and new motherhood is a joy — at least some of the time. But most mothers also experience worry, disappointment, guilt, competition, frustration, and even anger and fear.

As a communications person, building a new brand can be as demanding as giving birth to a new born baby. It is quite obvious that becoming a mother is akin to identity shift, and one of the most significant psychological and physical changes a woman will ever experience. More often than not, societies tend to focus more on the unborn or newly born baby than that of the transition from what I will describe as a woman to a mother.

The process of becoming a mother (pregnancy), in addition to how her psychology and emotions impact her parenting, is equally important to interrogate. It is generally believed that when society begins to have more insight into the emotions of soon to be mothers, they can be more in control of their behaviors.

So even though the focus remains on the child, understanding the transition of being pregnant and becoming a mother can help promote healthier parenting.

Experts say mothers with greater awareness of their emotional make-up are more empathetic to their children’s needs.

Having a baby is an act of creation. Pregnancy is more than producing just a baby, it’s also creating a new family, society and a nation. For the purpose of this subject, I will define a baby as the catalyst that opens new possibilities for more intimate connections as well as new stresses in a woman’s closest relationships with her partner, family and friends.

With every night wake-up cry and biohazard diaper changings, it is imperative for government to create a conducive atmosphere devoid of exhaustion, frustration, and confusion. It is against this background that maternal care should be prioritize in Ghana. The pregnant woman is as healthy as the unborn child.

State of Maternal Health in Ghana

It is important to note that despite all efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5 set up by the United Nations for countries to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health by the end of 2015, Ghana shamefully failed to meet the target though there was significant improvement in our health delivery system.

The Free Maternal Health Care Initiative was introduced in 2008 to help reduce needless deaths during pregnancy or childbirth.

The Free Maternal Health Care Initiative is to provide subsidized health insurance to pregnant women, giving them access to an existing range of insurance benefits that includes comprehensive maternity care with some notable exceptions such as ambulance service and post-partum family planning counselling. It is supported from the general pool of resources of the National Health Insurance Fund, which includes contributions from international partners via the health sector budget support.

In October 2017, the Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu disclosed that Maternal mortality ratio then was still as high as 319 per 100,000 live births and the neonatal mortality rate is 29 per 1,000 live births.

Unfortunately, the policy is bedeviled with problems which require urgent attention if indeed as a country we duly recognize the fact that the transitional period from being a woman to a mother plays a major role in the socio-economic development of our dear nation, Ghana. Some pregnant women are compelled to buy medicines including antibiotics, blood tonics and pay for laboratory and scan tests either in the health facilities or outside the facilities as well as buy disinfectants, bed spread, sanitary pads and soap in preparation for delivery. Pregnant women still incur substantial costs in accessing maternal health services despite the implementation of the free maternal health care policy. It is important to note that non-medical costs such as transportation, though not covered by the policy, are also quite substantial and pose a great challenge to women in accessing maternal health care.

Again, unreliable phone lines, inadequate and high cost of ambulance services, lack of spare parts and inadequate fuel for ambulance services are some of the challenges.

Conclusion

Most mothers see motherhood as a major aspect of their personal and social identities. The media also place a high value on being a good mother. As we celebrate Mother’s Day, the Ministry of Health, the Ghana Health Service and all stakeholders must note that the hidden cost of seeking maternal care does not only discourage many pregnant women from going to health facilities to deliver but also cause maternal and infant deaths.

A woman’s fantasies of pregnancy and motherhood are informed by her observations of the experiences of her own mother, relatives, friends, culture and nation. Ghana as a country has no excuse to overlook the awkward experiences our women go through in their quest to become mothers.

Upsurge in maternal mortality has far-reaching consequences on the socio-economic development of our dear nation. I urge the media to tone down on political discourse and rather channel efforts towards basic issues affecting the ordinary person on the street. Posterity will judge us all.

I wish all Mothers, a Happy Mother’s Day.

God bless our homeland Ghana!