An Appraisal Of Illiterate Mothers Perception On Birth Control

An Appraisal Of Illiterate Mothers Perception On Birth Control (A Case Study Of Onitsha North L.G.A)

In an article written by Adegbeti in the Sunday Sketch of 15th February 1981 on family planning. It says “people will continue to have sex irrespective of whether they are illiterates or literates, married or unmarried, school children” etc not minding the population.

This paper will therefore be reviewed under the following sub-headings.

  1. Importance of birth control
  2. Birth control devices
  3. Reason for not practicing birth control.


       Any child born into a family needs love and affection sometimes this is neglected when the children are too many in the home and this practice may hamper the proper development of the child. Scrimeshaw (1959) noted that parental development has some influence on the child’s development so birth control is needed especially by women who have had more than four (4) children.

According to Ayandele (1983) these women have increased risk of parental mortality which is a result of complications of pregnancy and labour.

In an interview of the minister of health by Innocent Oparadike published in the Nigeria tide of 24th January, (1981) reveals the minister’s view about people attitude towards birth control. He stated that family planning is important because we live in a society which is quiet different from that of our forefather’s. He said that women especially those women who have never has any formal education think that to apply these methods of family planning is sinful due to their belief in religion. He also stated that when the illiterate women have unlimited number of children, they should also remember that they have to take care of them.               

       Derek (1978) said that family planning is available to help individuals and couples to choose if and when they will have a child (family planning), or to choose the number of children that they will have (family limitation).

Mr. Marce Okunu, director of programmes of the planned parenthood federation of Nigeria, and also a member of the international planned parenthood federation, a world body interested n family planning as an essential development list other advantages of family planning as;

  1. It help couples and individuals to have only those children which they can adequately feed, clothes, house and educate at the time they want.
  2. It protects the health of both mother and child by preventing four specific types of pregnancies with high risk of maternal or infantal illness and untimely death.
  3. It enables couples and individuals to have sex as often as they wish without fear of unwanted pregnancies.

Lewellyn (1971) says that if the evidence presented about China is true, there can be no doubt that the control of population growth is essential and measure to decrease the rate of population growth which must be applied to all nations. This has been considered in recent years as to what this means, but many government have accepted the belief that birth control should be the key in any campaign to reduce population rate.

In 1934, the Rabbinical Assembly of American Jews passed a resolution on birth control that concluded we urge the passage of legislation by the congress of the United States and state legislative to permit the dissemination of contraceptive information by responsible medical agencies.



Despite some belief and practices favouring high fertility, there is evidence that various types of contraception have been known and used by small numbers.

In Onitsha urban Ronald Freeman (1970) wrote, there are basis for the supposition that more or less effective methods of population control potentially were available in many pre-industrial society and that these probably affected fertility level in most of them.    



This is a method of birth control in a women with a normal cycle, ovulation will occur approximately 14 days  before the anticipated menstrual period and the ovary can duly service for 2 days unless it is fertilized. After intercourse the ejaculated spermatozoa survive and are able to fertilize the ovum for 4 days at most. From these facts you can deduce that if coitus is avoided from 4 days before to 4 days after ovulation pregnancy should not occur. Coitus should therefore be restricted to the days of menstruation, to the 4-6 post-menstrual days and the 10–premenstrual days. The physiological concepts of ovulation were independently observed in (1929) by Dr. Knaus in Austria and Dr. Oyino in Japan. This method is the only method approved by the Roman Catholic Church who could argue that they were not preventing conception, but were regulating birth in a natural way.



As the name implies, the vaginal diaphragm or dutch cap, consist of a thin rubber dome which has a coiled metal spring in the rim. They are made in various sizes and the woman must be examined vaginally and given the size most suitable for her vagina, she is taught to wear using spermicidal jelly in the dome and around the rim of the cap, and to insert it into her vagina by squeezing the sides of the diaphragm together. After child birth the capacity of the vagina may increase to some extent and the woman should be refitted if she intends to continue to use the diaphragm as a contraceptive method.

The place of the diaphragm as a method of birth control should not be minimized, as it has no sides effects, is perhaps protective against cervical cancer and if maintained properly can be used for one or two years before being changed (Derek, 1978).



To most women, hormonal contraceptives means the pill, these pill was first used in 1955, the number of women taking the pills at a rate has increase to over 6.5 million. Nor is the pill used today as that used more than 20 year ago, today’s pills contain less oestrogen and less gestagen than the original pill and the pill is a method of contraception most favoured by women, and the hormones may be used singly or together, and it may be given by mouth or injection depending on the need of different women.



       The I.U.D. is being chosen increasingly by women who wish to avoid pregnancy. It has an advantage over the pill, in that once it has been placed inside the uterus and has been accepted, the woman becomes fully protected and has no reason to do anything else to protect herself. She does not need to remember to take the pills everyday. He can have sexual intercourse with reasonable safety and without worry. As a method of contraception, the I.U.D. is not as efficient as the pill or the injections. About two women in every hundred become pregnant while wearing on the I.U.D. and the rate seems to be the same whichever device is been used or chosen.



Increasingly, couples who have completed their families are seeking permanent methods of birth control. This method is also called sterilization, as the woman is permanently prevented from having children.

Unfortunately many woman believes that sterilization means castration and confusion occurs. The ovaries are never remove in tubal ligation operations and after the operations continue to function normally, producing the hormones which help to make a woman a woman, neither her feminity nor her sexuality are diminished.

Before deciding on the operation, a woman should talk it over with her doctor, who will be able to answer all her questions. He will also need to examine her vagina as certain conditions make tubal ligation inadvisable. These conditions include uterine, fibroids, a marked prolapse or a history of irregular menstruation which has not responded to hormones. If a woman has any of these conditions and also wants permanent birth control, a hysterectomy is the preferable operation.



       This is absenting from having intercourse to avoid conception this is one of the natural method of birth control. This is practiced mainly by illiterates and this method is very common in the olden days.



       Writing on family planning, Ad, (1965) says many people oppose this simple remedy of family planning. He continued by saying that most of the illiterate women whom he interviewed said that since their fore-fathers got away with large families, why shouldn’t others say that the white men wanted to cheat us by introducing such methods so that we shall be small in population as they are: –

The opinion of H. Robinson (1965) about family planning is that it is the only practical solution to population growth in the world but illiterate women oppose the idea under these factors – religious, social and health.



       They are of the view that family planning is contrary to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, the leaders of this church are opposed to anything which will bring about the application of contraceptive devices. 


       They feel that the idea of ancestor worship makes the people to have as many children as they can. They feel that their ancestors will be annoyed with them if they prevent conception by applying contraceptive devices because some of them will like to return to their families. The idea of early marriage also promotes the bearing of so many children since these women are young and do not use any contraceptive device.



       Robinson (1965) said that it has been suggested that hunger stimulates sexual appetite. Since most of these illiterate people fall within the poor range of people, the find it difficult to feed their families. It is said that the devil finds job for a lazy hand while they are lazing about in their houses, there is the tendency that their sexual appetite rises.

In another book “WOMEN” by Chesser (1958), he says “fewer people in the occupational group practiced birth control”. There are still a large number of women averse to interfering with themselves and it is more likely that the less educated and less instructed academically speaking trends belong to this group. From this we can deduce that these groups don’t practice birth control because they are ignorant of it.

Broom and Silznick (1973) hold the view that “to wish that destiny might be kind is one matter, to seek actively the prevention of birth is another”. In response to this suggestion an illiterate woman argued that it will be a terrible sin to prevent a dead soul who wishes to be born into ones family by birth control. That if this is done, we must pay for such act in our next life.                  

       Another woman who was responding in their book on the attitude toward birth control said that the view that children who are to be born to us must be allowed to be born. We cannot and should not prevent this, that is how life goes on, on the same attitude toward birth, a set of men and women echoed that a rebirth into a great circle must not be deemed to anybody, bearing in mind the belief in reincarnation. Also by Broom and Silznick (up sit) under the article of sex, love and birth control says that “it is historically the Roman Catholic Church who has forbidden its members to use contraceptive device to birth control.

Harrison and Boyle (1962) are of the view that a man with many children controls much wealth. In terms of economic production more children means an increased to food supply and perhaps the production of surpluses for trade most of the world religions places create emphasis on the population of children. In many sciences fertility cults often place similar practices and have a high value on children.

In primitive society, the man with few children is a man of minor influences and a man with none is a social nonentity. The production of children is to supply the society with new members. The very poor people even in the industrial society can often see no advantage in limiting their children. An illiterate woman gave this reason “the child as yet unborn may be the very one who will help his parents”. Another mother while responding to why they have many children said that “if a man does not have dependents on whom will be depend on when he is old and ill” assuming that he has a limited number of children who may die before his old age, who will help him when he is old.

We must bear in mind that we are not God, it is said with God noting is impossible, so we should not say that a man with many children will be sure of them than those with few.

Parry (1974), maintained that there is a widespread consensus that birth rates in Indian are high because parent do not know how to or do not have the means to prevent birth which are unwanted. There is a widespread view on why this is so because parents as known have a particular desire for a male child. For example, Hindus emphasizes the importance of having a male child to light the parent funeral pyre. So if they have female children they must continue to have more babies until they have a male child. With this kind of attitude, the idea of birth control will not be possible.

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