Let’s talk about it: A young couple plans pregnancy and childbirth

    | May 18, 2009

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    This week’s script is the first in a special series that is sure to captivate you and your listeners. Through eight interviews conducted over one year, the series tells a story that is both personal and universal – that of a young couple planning for their first child.

    In this first installment, we meet the couple in their home in Arusha district, Tanzania. They tell us about their hopes and fears as they plan their family. In the coming weeks, the series will continue in FRW’s Script of the Week section. We will follow the couple through pregnancy and the birth of their child, learning important lessons about how couples can make decisions about maternal health care along the way.

    Notes to broadcaster

    When couples are expecting a child, many men and women are uncomfortable talking about issues such as child care, pregnancy, delivery, and the role of men and women in these issues. In some cultures, the husband is the primary person with whom a pregnant woman would discuss such matters; neighbours or close friends can also be involved.

    In other cultures, female elders, midwives, and the mother-in-law have a special role to play in encouraging discussion and providing advice to the pregnant woman. Today, however, younger women frequently do not want to follow their advice, even when they advise women to go to a health facility for care.

    To talk about these issues, we have visited a couple in a village in Arusha district, Tanzania. They were married one year ago, and have made plans, including how they can make their life prosperous and take care of their children.

    This script contains eight separate interviews with the couple, spanning a period from before the wife was pregnant until after the child is born. There are several ways to use this script. You could use it as a guide to interviewing an expectant couple in your own area. Read closely through the kinds of questions and issues in the interviews. Find out how couples in your area prepare for childbirth. Who makes the decisions? Do husbands and wives discuss these issues together? You may also choose to air these interviews as they are, making adaptations to your local situation. The eight interviews could be aired for eight days in a row, or once a week for eight weeks.

    This script is based on actual interviews. If you choose to use voice actors to represent the couple who are being interviewed, please make sure to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the interview, and that the program has been adapted for your local audience, but is based on a real interview.

    Also, some of the cultural customs and traditions followed by the couple and their families may be different than those of your listening audience. Feel free to adapt the script to the cultural context of your listening audience. Or you could present the story as occurring in a different culture with different values and traditions.


    Setting: Rural community

    Presenter: It is often difficult for young men and women to discuss issues related to pregnancy and childbirth. Younger women appear to have little information about childbirth before they have their baby, and they do not feel comfortable asking questions. Men often appear uncaring or uninterested in pregnancy and childbirth, and women may be reluctant to tell their husbands that they are pregnant. Our producer visited a young couple aged 23 years and 22 years, living near Arusha, Tanzania. They live a poor life and are self-employed, depending on whatever daily labour they can find. They live just next to the husband’s parents, but depend on their own efforts to survive. The discussion with our producer and the young couple follows.

    First interview – before the pregnancy

    Signature tune up. Hold 10 seconds and fade out.

    Producer: What plans do you have for your family?

    Husband: Our first plan is to go out of our poverty.

    Producer: How about children? What have you planned?

    Husband: Yes, we have planned to have children, if God blesses us with that.

    SFX: Barking of a dog

    Producer: How many children are you expecting to have?

    Husband: We have discussed the issue and we will continue planning until we reach an agreement.

    Wife: We had planned during our engagement period to have three. I said two, my husband wants three, but I didn’t agree, and I am still thinking. (Wife, husband and producer laughing)

    Producer: Who makes the decision on the number of children?

    Wife: I think we are both responsible. But men sometimes want to take control of it.

    Producer: It seems that in your family you have agreed that the husband will not take over and decide. Why have you decided to have only two or three children?

    Wife: We are poor. Life is not easy. There is no money and it is difficult to make money. If you have ten children and you are poor, you cannot manage them. They would live a difficult life and it is like bringing them into a life of problems. To have a few children is better than having many, because you can show love to them.

    Producer: As the father of the family, when do you plan to have these two or three children?

    Husband: We thought to have our firstborn after one year, and it is almost that time now. And we are praying to have one.

    Producer: Why are you thinking like this instead of having a child immediately after your marriage?

    Husband: It is because marriage is like birth. You will be like kids in a marriage in the beginning; you are just married and you expect a child right away. I think that even your economic situation is not good if you have just started married life. You don’t have any direction how life will be. This is a problem for many newly married couples. I advise at least one year, and then you can have a child, instead of immediately and then there are problems. You are facing a new thing you have never faced before.

    Producer: How do you plan to chase away poverty?

    Husband: Maybe to work hard. It doesn’t matter what job you choose. Even if it’s mopping or cleaning, you must be ready to work hard to reduce poverty and live a good life.

    Producer: I can see you have cows, chicken, goats and a farm. This shows at least you can earn something for a living. Did your parents advise you about marriage?

    Wife: They have never advised us about anything. They are typical Maasai and they depend on their cultural traditions completely. The father-in-law can’t even come in my house. They are not ready to advise anything. But we have received advice from close friends.

    Producer: Perhaps the husband was advised?

    Husband: No. None of our parents say, “If you do this, you will be like this, or this will happen.” They advise you to have ten cows, but if you consider this, it does not produce any profit. Now we are farming a small plot intensively, and the one cow we have produces a lot of milk.

    Producer: Wife, do you have any worries about marriage?

    Wife: Yes. I am afraid of being poor. I am worried about whether I will manage to take care of my children and take them to school. Sometimes I believe I will succeed and have a good life, but sometimes I am afraid.

    Producer: Husband, you are planning to have a child after one year of marriage. What are your worries?

    Husband: About the neighbours. What are they saying about me? Will I manage to build a good house and take care of my family? To build a modern house takes a lot of money and my salary is very little. I do casual labour and the pay is very little, and as it depends on the work that I can find, I cannot predict how much money I will have. Will I manage? Will I be a good father who cares and gives a chance to my wife to have a good life?

    Signature tune up. Hold 10 seconds and fade out.