In Nigeria, the lifetime risk of death from pregnancy or childbirth complications is 1 in 30. Maternal healthcare utilisation addresses the risk of maternal mortality and morbidity but its utilisation is influenced by varying factors of which autonomy has been neglected especially for young married women. Therefore, this study examined the relationship between young married women’s level of autonomy and maternal health care utilisation in Nigeria. Secondary data from the 2013 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey was analysed (n=4996) with consideration of young ever married women (age 15 to 24), who had at least one live birth in the last five years preceding the survey. The binary logistic regression models were fitted into the data. Findings revealed that only 30% of women aged 15 to 24 delivered at a health facility while 44% of the total pregnant women had four or more antenatal care visits before delivery. Also, young women with low autonomy were less likely to meet the minimum requirement of four antenatal visits (OR=0.35: CI: 0.29-0.43) and less likely to deliver at a health facility (OR=0.32: CI: 0.27-0.39). The study underscores the need to empower young women to achieve higher levels of autonomy due to its obvious implication on their health and to encourage integrated interventions that considers engaging household and community structures on the benefits of women autonomy and its importance for mother and child’s health. Policy and program considerations that would enable the removal of socio-cultural/demographic barriers towards women autonomy in Nigeria should be encouraged.
Key words: Maternal healthcare utilization, antenatal, postnatal, place of delivery, women autonomy
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