What if you could determine how healthy or unhealthy you become as a person? The answer is not as simple but there is a buzzword that you need to adopt in your vocabulary. Self-care. What is self-care and why should you care?
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines self-care as “the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a health-care provider”.
If this is it, then, the onus is on us to ensure that self-care becomes a reality in our everyday lives.
White Ribbon Alliance Executive Director Angela Nguku opines, ”If the government invested in self-care, we would be averting the double disease burden of communicable diseases and non-communicable diseases.”
Self-care empowers you, the user of health services to lead a healthy life, ”With self-care, you are able to know what you are going to eat, when to seek care, when you need to go for testing instead of seeking Google health care where people are Googling everything” adds Angela Nguku.
Self-care is many things. It can take the shape of making sure you go to a clinic when pregnant. That way, you will avert complications. It can just be about you taking the initiative to ensure you sleep under a mosquito net because you know that way, Malaria will be kept at bay.
According to Angela Nguku, self-care is the power that most low and middle-income countries wield and they need to make use of it.
”I always tell the government, pay less now or pay more later. What is better? Investing in health promotion like water sanitation/hygiene, deworming, nutrition, all these initiatives best equip people to take good care of themselves.”
Maternal Health & Self-Care
To understand why self-care is crucial in regard to maternal health, we need to look at data. 800 women die each day due to complications in pregnancy and childbirth. This turns the act of giving life a dangerous and risky undertaking. The irony is that most of these deaths are caused by preventable complications and about 99% of them occur in low- and middle-income countries.
According to the Kenya Demographic Health Survey (KDHS) 2014, the country loses 8000 mothers and 40000 newborns each year. In other words, every day, 22 mothers die because they are giving life. Coupled with the 111 newborns who die every day from preventable causes, the question begs, what can I do? What can you do?
Enter self-care. What makes it a powerful tool in maternal health is the fact that it puts women and children first. It is hinged on community-driven solutions hence they are easier to adapt and relate to.
This cannot be achieved in a vacuum. Self-care is heavily reliant on knowledge. It heavily leans towards preventive measures by individuals or communities so that they are not depending on health systems unnecessarily.
An informed mother to be is an asset to the health system. The world needs many of these. When a community is well equipped with the necessary information, individuals are likely to make sound decisions for themselves and their families.
There are many ways to illustrate this. Eating right for instance. Being aware of endocrine disruptors and the threat they pose to you and your unborn child is a form of self-care. It simply means you are ready to make necessary changes during this special time.
Going to the clinic is a form of self-care. It goes without saying that having a healthy pregnancy is one of the best ways to promote a healthy birth. There are many things that you will discuss during these visits and they all empower you as an individual on the best way to care for yourself and the baby.
There is a lot that we can discuss in self-care and why it matters. The power is within our reach to fully exploit and best care for our health only if we take on self-care.
Exercise as a Form of Self-Care
The questions then you would be asking yourself if you are pregnant are, what is the best way of taking care of myself? And this is not about those housewife tales of hogging all the uji and meat in the name of eating for two. No. This is about you knowing that moderate exercise during pregnancy is crucial. It goes a long way in reducing your reduce your risk of complications during pregnancy
Before embarking on this one, seek guidance from a healthcare professional.
Get Enough Sleep
This needs no explanation. Sleep gives your body enough time and space to recover from all the humdrum of life.
Do not shy away from getting a nap during the day if that is possible for you. It will help you recharge.
Not getting enough sleep has many consequences. According to research, some women who have their sleep pattern disrupted reduce their chances of having a normal delivery.