Background: First childbirth in a woman's life is one of the most important events in her life. It marks a turnaround when she might have to drop roles of career building and education, for motherhood and parenthood. The timing of the commencement of these roles affects the child bearing behavior of women as they progress in their reproductive ages. Prevalent early first childbirth in Nigeria has been reported as the main cause of high population growth and high fertility, mortality and morbidity among women, but little has been documented on the progression into first birth as well as factors affecting it in Nigeria. This paper modelled timing of first birth among women in Nigeria and determined socio-demographic and other factors affecting its timing. Methods: We hypothesized that background characteristics of a woman will influence her progression into having first birth. We developed and fitted a survival analysis model to understand the timing of first birth among women in Nigeria using a national representative 2013 NDHS data. Women with no children were right censored as of the date of the survey. The Kaplan Meier survival function was used to estimate the probabilities of first birth not occurring until certain ages of women while Cox proportional hazard regression was used to model the timing of first births at 5 % significance level. Results: About 75.7 % of the respondents had given birth in the Northern region of Nigerian compared with 63.8 % in the South. Half (50.1 %) of the first childbirth occurred within the 15-19 years age bracket and 38.1 % within 20-29 years. The overall median survival time to first birth was 20 years (North 19, South 22), 27 years among women with higher education and 18 years for those with no formal education. The adjusted hazard of first birth was higher in the Northern region of Nigeria than in the South (aHR = 1.24, 95 % CI: 1.20-1.27), and higher in rural areas than in urban areas (aHR = 1.15, 95 % CI: 1.12-1.19). Also, hazard of earlier first birth tripled among women with no education (aHR = 3.36, 95 % CI: 3.17-3.55) compared to women with higher education. The significant factors affecting age at first birth are education, place and zone of residence, age at first marriage, religion, ethnicity and use of contraceptives. Conclusions: This study showed that progression into early first birth is most affected by the education standing of women as well as age at first marriage. Delay of first childbirths as a strategy for fertility reduction and maternal health improvement can be achieved if women are empowered early in life with quality education. Stakeholders should therefore, give adequate attention to educating the girl child. Adverse socio-cultural norms of betrothing and marrying young girls should be abrogated, while health education and promotion of need to delay child bearing must be intensified especially among rural dwellers and also in Northern Nigeria.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Obstetrics and Gynaecology