A Time of Uncertainty and Opportunity: Findings From a Formative Assessment of First-Time Parents in Cross River State, Nigeria

Becoming a parent for the first time marks an important milestone in the sexual and reproductive health (RH) lives of women and men around the world. First-time parents (FTPs) in low- and middle-income countries are often young:  they may be married or unmarried, and their male partner may be similar in age or much older, or, may not be present.  Their experiences during this life stage are shaped by multiple contextual factors that influence their immediate and long-term RH and well-being.

Despite the potential that investing in these young women and their male partners could have on long-term development, few programs have provided FTPs with age appropriate and comprehensive care that encourage the healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies and improve caretaking of infants. In addition, there is also little evidence that demonstrates the needs of FTPs and whether they are being met.  This is true of Cross River State (CRS), Nigeria, where most ARH programs, to date, have focused on preventing adolescent pregnancy and reducing HIV transmission—not in reaching adolescent FTPs with RH, family planning, and maternal and newborn health services.

Pathfinder International/Nigeria, through the Evidence to Action (E2A) project, will help fill this programmatic gap. E2A is supporting interventions focused on FTMs, aged 15-24 years, and their husbands/male partners in CRS under the Savings Mothers, Giving Life (SMGL) initiative.  This report discusses findings from a formative assessment of First-time Parents in Cross River State, Nigeria.