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Baby-trapped - All Woman - Jamaica Observer
All Woman

Baby-trapped

THEY say the choice to go through with a pregnancy, or even to get pregnant, is ultimately a woman's because she can control what happens by tracking her ovulation and using one of many methods of birth control available. And so when a woman does get pregnant and follows through with giving birth to a baby, there's not usually any debate about whether she had a say in the matter.

Often it's men who complain about being tricked and trapped into parenthood by women, as the women will lie about being on birth control or being able to conceive. But 'baby-trapping' by men, though not as prevalent as when a woman dupes a man into parenthood, is still an issue, with women reporting that their men have practically coerced or forced them into pregnancy and motherhood.

“I get very sick on hormonal birth control, and so my husband and I agreed on condoms and the rhythm method,” Janese told All Woman. “We also agreed that we would wait a couple years to have children, while we got to enjoy each other more. But unbeknownst to me he was tracking my ovulation on his phone, and would opt out of using protection some of the times, even while assuring me that he was covered. When I got pregnant and was shocked, even before I could process the news he had told everyone — including the man who cleaned up our yard — and I was forced to welcome the pregnancy with the eyes of the whole neighbourhood and world on me.”

She said it was when their child was a year old that he casually mentioned that his father had told him to “slap a breed” on her, so she couldn't leave him like his ex did.

“I know of instances where women have partners that attempt to sabotage their birth control,” said nurse practitioner Angie Dennis, who has worked with various local and international organisations that provide reproductive health care.

“Sometimes women are in certain situations where we have to give them the protection they need, without their partners knowing, to safeguard their health.”

Althea, who had her first child at 17, was on her third child at 21 before she connected the dots after a midwife advised her that, even while breastfeeding, she needed to use protection.

“My baby's father swore that it was impossible, and he was a porter in the hospital so I believed him,” she said. “He would tell me we were safe because I was exclusively breastfeeding, and each time I got pregnant he would curse and say it was probably because I was sneaking in formula. I didn't know myself, and trusted him because he was in the medical field. It was only when the midwife was chastising me for not giving my body a break, and he was there and she started cursing him and telling him that she'd also told him to wrap it up, that I realised that he knew the risks all along and just didn't care — he just wanted to plant his seed.”

For women in any situation like this, Dennis said there's help available.

“There are many, many birth control options at your disposal, and you just have to talk to your health-care provider,” she said.

“It's also important that women get all the facts about reproduction for themselves, and protect themselves at the onset, and if there's any hint that there was an accident while engaged in the act, there is always the morning after pill. No woman should be forced into a pregnancy they were not prepared for, or be trapped into motherhood, because parenting in itself is difficult enough without that added burden of knowing that your partner trapped you into it.”

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