Mali: Men support their wives during prenatal and postnatal monitoring

| May 23, 2024

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Assitan Traoré and her husband raise two healthy children in the Sido Soninkoura neighbourhood of Segou in central Mali, in large part because of the support of their local medical health centre. Their first child was born at home, and Mrs. Traoré experienced a lot of bleeding, a perineal tear, and the whole experience was traumatic. A doctor recommended Mrs. Traoré give birth at a health centre in the future, and stressed the importance of prenatal and postnatal care. Mrs. Traoré was accompanied by her husband on these prenatal visits, which she found immensely supportive.

It’s an April afternoon at 5 p.m. and the day is cooling as the sun sets. In the Sido Soninkoura neighbourhood of Segou in central Mali, 30-year-old Assitan Traoré sits on a stool in her courtyard, breastfeeding and singing to her youngest child. This child was born healthy at a health centre one year ago. Mrs. Traoré says, “My husband and I decided on prenatal monitoring and to give birth in a health centre to avoid the risks of complications and protect our child.”

The Traoré family has two children. Reflecting on her experiences, Mrs. Traoré says, “During my first pregnancy, I gave birth at home with the help of my mother-in-law, who is not a midwife. I bled a lot. It was painful and traumatic.”

She recalls the aftermath of that delivery: “I had a perineal tear after my first delivery, and my husband took me to a health centre.” After receiving care, the doctor advised the Traoré couple to seek prenatal care at a health centre in the future to avoid the risks of complications during pregnancy and childbirth.

After receiving that advice, Mr. Traoré took an active role in supporting his wife throughout her second pregnancy, prioritizing her well-being over his professional commitments. He attended consultation sessions and participated in awareness talks led by midwives, who advised him on the importance of attending prenatal appointments. Reflecting on their journey, he says: “We learned from our first pregnancy. It is essential to enlist the services of a health specialist. Also, our support reassures our wives and helps them cope with the stress associated with pregnancy.”

Prenatal care played a crucial role in the smooth delivery of the Traoré family’s second child. Attending four prenatal consultations as advised by the doctor, Mrs. Traoré was accompanied by her husband, which she found immensely supportive. This consistent care continued during and after delivery, ensuring both her and her baby’s well-being. Mrs. Traoré believes that this attentive monitoring significantly reduced the risk of complications. Reflecting on the experience, she notes the absence of difficulties during childbirth and the fact that her baby was healthy at birth.

Dr. Zeïna Touré is a midwife at the Wassa medical clinic in Pélengana, Ségou. Dr. Touré stresses the importance of prenatal and postnatal consultations. She says these sessions are crucial for tracking the progress of pregnancies and preventing complications and abnormalities. Dr. Touré states, “Monitoring ensures a dignified and risk-free delivery for both the woman and the newborn.”

She explains that good prenatal care requires four consultations, with the last one occurring from the 37th week of pregnancy onwards.

She explains that postnatal care involves regular monitoring of the mother and child after birth. After childbirth, a physical and psychological consultation is recommended between the sixth and eighth week. At this appointment, the mother receives support for choosing contraception if she desires. The newborn is given medical examinations.

Dr. Touré says, “Assisted delivery in a health centre allows women to give birth in a secure environment.”

She explains that, according to the World Health Organization, a woman who regularly receives prenatal care at a health centre almost doubles her chances of having a complication-free delivery. Women who do not receive prenatal care are at higher risk of maternal and infant mortality due to infections, as well as fetal malformation and intrauterine growth retardation.

She believes that a husband’s involvement is necessary to support pregnant women psychologically. She says, “Husbands must be involved throughout the pregnancy. A man should attend his wife’s consultations.” She adds that spouses should help each other with household chores during this period.

Mrs. Traoré is happy with her husband’s support during and after her pregnancy. She says, “It reassured me that I am not alone and helped me forget some of the pains of pregnancy. His support brought me comfort.” She concludes by encouraging men to support their pregnant wives because all women need their husband’s support for their well-being and that of their child.

This resource was produced thanks to the “HÉRÈ – Bien-être des femmes au Mali” initiative, which aims to improve the well-being of women and girls in the area of sexual and reproductive health and to strengthen the prevention of and response to gender-based violence in the regions of Sikasso, Ségou, Mopti and the district of Bamako in Mali. The project is being implemented by the HÉRÈ – MSI Mali Consortium, in partnership with Farm Radio International (FRI) and Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF), with funding from Global Affairs Canada.

Photo: Ms. Traoré with her child in Mali, captured by Fatoumata Z. Coulibaly in 2024.