5 Leading Causes of Death in Pregnant Women of Nigeria

Prevent Maternal Mortality in Nigeria

Pregnancy is as old as time, and it is a thing of joy, however it is also a battle field. In my language a woman that has just given birth is greeted as “ẹ kú ewu ọmọ” equivalent to “congratulations for escaping the dangers of child birth”.

For so long, humanity most especially Nigeria has been putting women on this battle field without fully giving them information, equipment and the care they need to scale through without hassles making a significant number of pregnant women die unduly. The fight against this negative trend is ongoing beginning with enlightening and educating Nigerians on the 5 leading causes of death in pregnant women.

What Is Maternal Mortality

Maternal mortality is the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination (ending) of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management but not from accidental causes.

5 Most Common Causes Of Maternal Mortality In Nigeria

Be a happy pregnant woman and mother

The “Hitlers” wiping pregnant women out include :



High blood pressure during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia, eclampsia)

Complications of delivery (e.g obstructed labour, ruptured uterus)

Unsafe abortion

Why Nigeria

Survive a childbirth

Over 99%of maternal mortality occur in developing countries of which Nigeria is one, and because Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa we carry a high burden of this death rate. The associated causes include;



Poor nutrition

Pregnancy at young age

Harmful cultural practices

What To Watch Out For

Haemorrhage: this is the leading cause of maternal mortality in Nigeria. Blood is the driver of life hence losing blood at a vulnerable time like pregnancy can be a disaster.

Antepartum Haermorrhage(bleeding before delivery) : blood stain on pants of pregnant women, minor to severe vagina bleeding, excessive show, abdominal pain.

Postpartum Haemorrhage(bleeding after delivery) : Dizziness, weakness, blurring of vision, fever, foul smelling discharge. Postpartum hemorrhage could be immediately after delivery or within 42 days after delivery.

2. Infection: fever, foul smelling vaginal discharge, abdominal pain

3. High blood pressure during pregnancy :pre eclampsia could be asymptomatic and mostly diagnosed as an incidental finding at antenatal visits. However severe cases can come with symptoms like headache, nausea, vomiting, double vision, right upper abdominal pain, severe swollen feet. Eclampsia present as seizure in the presence of features of pre eclampsia.

4. Complications of delivery : the saddening thing in Nigerian is that more than 50% of pregnant women still deliver at home with unskilled birth attendants taking the delivery leading to death of many when complications set in. Warning symptoms here include, labour for more than a day(refer yourself, if nobody is referring you), fever, offensive vaginal discharge.

5. Unsafe Abortion: abortion law in Nigeria is restrictive i.e abortion is not permissible unless the mothers life is at risk therefore many unwanted and unplanned pregnancies are aborted in an inappropriate environment ,with inappropriate methods and by unskilled individuals making these pregnant women vulnerable and many have died in the process. Warning signs here include bleeding from vagina, abdominal pain, offensive vagina discharge, dizziness, weakness, fever.


Prevention is always better than cure. Early diagnosis and treatment has a role to play but prevention is still the best. Save yourself to save your baby and many generations to come by:

Attending antenatal care

Deliver in a hospital or make sure a skilled birth attendant who knows when to refer to the hospital is taking the delivery

Go for follow up even after delivery

Good hygiene goes a long way in preventing infection

Make use of contraceptive methods to prevent unplanned and unwanted pregnancy

Avoid detrimental cultural practices that are harmful to health.


To significantly reduce death of pregnant women in Nigeria, the importance of early and regular antenatal care, skilled birth attendants at delivery, prompt diagnosis and treatment of complications cannot be over emphasized. Save a pregnant woman, save the future, save Nigeria.

Author: Yunusa Aishat Opeyemi

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