RELIEF: Women in Rwanda say goodbye to Painful natural birth

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Natural birth comes with pain but introduction of Epidural Anesthesia brought relief; Courtesy Photo

Pregnant women in Rwanda can now have epidural painless and normal (vaginal) delivery without going through a surgical procedure.

The pain relief method known as ‘epidural anaesthesia’ was officially introduced in Rwanda, launched on September 17, at King Faisal Hospital Kigali.

Normal vaginal birth for women is a painful experience due to uterine contractions, recurrent vaginal examinations, and vaginal lacerations.

Most of the time, some women opt for Caesarean section (C-section), a surgical procedure that involves incisions in the abdomen to avoid the pain.

C-section however comes with side effects including longer hospital stay and surgical-associated risks. There is now a painless way for normal delivery – the use of epidural anesthesia.

Painless birth

During the launch, Dr Samuel Muhumuza, a senior consultant anesthesiologist at King Faisal Hospital, explained that epidural, also known as labour anaesthesia, is the best method that can be applied for any woman planning to give birth, even though there are other ways to relieve pain like morphine, nitrous oxide, and pethidine.

“It is possible to have a normal and painless delivery. When you are in labour, we identify a spot on your back, sterilize it and inject you painlessly to numb the area. After that, we put a catheter on your back to deliver drugs to numb the labour pains, giving you a normal (vaginal), but painless birth,” said Dr. Muhumuza.

“The epidural is the gold procedure among many other pain relief methods used in childbirth management and also reduces the length of hospital stay associated with Caesarean sections,” he said.

“The drugs and technique we use ensure labour progresses normally. They do not interfere with the process. Pain is not necessary, so we take it away,” he added.

Though this comes as a relief said the painless normal delivery is for the rich people since it is expensive and insurance in the country does not cover it.

In Rwanda, this service can be found at King Faisal Hospital Kigali and University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK).

An epidural labour pain relief procedure cost $450 and $500 in Kenya and South Africa respectively.

Side Effects

Reports show that the epidural pain relief procedure has side effects but the most common ones included a drop in blood pressure, loss of strength or control of your leg muscles and itchy skin.

It can also lead to difficulty in passing urine, requiring one to have a catheter fitted to drain it from the bladder into a bag until the effects of the epidural wear off.

Doctors say, the likely complications during and after an epidural include severe headache that can last up to a week, or sometimes longer, assisted birth after failing to push, and infection in the back, though rare since it happens to two in 100,000 women.

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