By Mary Jalingo 

unnamed (1)

Pregnancy especially in African tradition is a must for every married woman. In fact, the night after one’s wedding, family, friends, and neighbors expect the woman to come out showing signs of pregnancy. In some quarters, it is the validation that one is now married. Therefore, every bride waits for the moment when the big news will arrive.
For some women, pregnancy is a straightforward, happy and healthy time while for others, it may not be a period of fun due to changes the body undergo or complications. Every woman regardless, deserves the best quality care during her pregnancy. From the moment a woman gets the news of pregnancy her worry becomes the safety of the unborn child growing in her womb. Therefore, it is important for a pregnant woman to have regular checkups with a qualified midwife or a doctor in a health facility that is properly equipped. Having regular checkups which is referred to as antenatal visits help the mother and baby to prevent complications and stay healthy. Antenatal care can best be described as the cornerstone of a healthy pregnancy, labour and baby.
But for most women in Minna, Niger State Nigeria, antenatal days have become days of discomfort and agony as a result of delays, long waiting hours, resulting in poor quality services and undignified care rendered at most hospitals or Primary Health Care Centers providing ANC services. Jummai Babagidan Aliyu Maternal and Neonatal Hospital in Minna, Niger State Capital can be described as one of the best neonatal facility in Nigeria owned by a state government. From the gate, one is captivated by the beauty of the environment, from the well nurtured lawn, to the bright colors of paint and the serenity of the environment. The hospital is also furnished with the state of the art facilities.
Jummai Babagidan hospital serves approximately a population of about 70 to 100 pregnant women seeking antenatal care every week days. For most women registered at Jummai Babangida, antenatal days begins as early as 5am. Speaking, Hajiya Aisha Yakubu, a pregnant woman registered at Jummai Babangida, a resident of Kpakungu says, ANC days are always stressful as she wakes up by 4am on such day to begin to prepare, if she must be part of the number that will receive antenatal care on her appointment day. ‘’I leave my home by 5:30am and walk for about 20 minutes to the road to get tricycle popularly known as keke that would take me to the hospital. I am often worried for my safety and that of the baby as I walk down the road. There have been stories of pedestrians who have being mobbed along this road, adding to my discomfort and anxiety on such days. The delays receiving care also affect me economically. I engage in petty trade to support my family financially. On antenatal days, I have to cancel all appointments knowing that I won’t be back home until late afternoon, meaning I spend about eight hours at the hospital if am lucky enough to leave home on time. Antenatal days could be less stressful if I can access timely care.
“The Government can ease the stress of pregnancy for women like me if issues like this can be resolved. This can be done if Key stakeholders can meet with pregnant women during antenatal days and deliberate with us as to type of services we crave for with a view of improving them. This might be very important and in the process save lives of more women and children as a lot of complications in pregnancy go unnoticed because many pregnant women do not come for antenatal care on time and regularly.”