Pregnancy and childbirth are always happy occasions in the Philippines, where family bonds are very strong.  What’s not usually considered is this:  even as a woman gives life, she is also exposed to several health risks, some of them fatal.  This is something that needs to be addressed more often, especially in poorer communities.

According to a United Nations report (data collected from 1990-2015), some 114 Filipino mothers die for every 100,000 live births. These deaths occur due to complications related to pregnancy and giving birth.  If this is considered together with the country’s birth rate (as of 2014) that would mean nearly 2,000 Filipino mothers dying every year.

This is why the present trend is to look at family planning from an overall perspective of female reproductive health. Essentially, reproductive health means this:  ensuring that a woman achieves a state of mental, physical, and social well-being during all stages of her reproductive life.

Reproductive health also includes having a satisfying and safe sex life, as well as the freedom to choose when and how often to reproduce. This implies that women (and men) should have access to family planning education and contraception.

As a female, it’s never too early to start taking care of your reproductive health, especially once you body reaches reproductive age. For females, that begins in adolescence (10 to 19 years of age).  Here are some things to remember:

Adolescent pregnancies are risky.   Pregnancy during adolescence increases the risk of serious illness and death for these young mothers.  Adolescent mothers risk anemia and premature labor.  They are also at risk for unsafe abortions, substance abuse, mental illness, and suicide.  Adolescent mothers should know these risks and hopefully, with parental support, get the healthcare they need, especially pre-natal care.

Too many pregnancies are not advised.  The ideal childbearing years, according to experts, are from 20-35 years of age.  During these years, however, it is important to limit the number of children and allow the woman to space her pregnancies.

Experts say that women who have more than four pregnancies are more likely to develop complications and diseases.  These include heart disease, pregnancy-related diabetes, weight gain/obesity, infections, and nutritional deficiencies especially a lack of iron and folate.  There’s also a risk of developing depression.

Contraception has reproductive health benefits.  Using contraception prevents the health risks mentioned above. It prevents these health risks in women and young mothers, and also allows them to space pregnancies.  Spacing pregnancies allows women’s bodies to recover and regain good health.

By limiting the number of pregnancies, contraception also gives women the freedom to pursue other activities that promote their well-being.

Family planning means education and healthcare.  Education on family planning and reproductive health are important for adolescents and adults (whether men or women).  This is best provided by experts in women’s and maternal health.  Consult your obstetrician-gynecologist and visit manilamed.com.ph for all concerns you may have about reproductive health and pregnancy.

Here at ManilaMed, you will find expert, compassionate care for women and mothers. We are happy to give our best to make you feel better.