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Epidural… a better plan B?

By Mercy

Lara, a pregnant lady,  was due in a couple of weeks and had asked her doctor for an epidural and she heard a stunning reply from him:“What is that, who told you about epidural?”. She responded that she learnt about it abroad. That was when the doctor realised he was talking to a knowledgeable person. And the doctor just spilled: “We don’t have that here, please”.

Lara was disappointed and with no option of another reliable analgesia(pain relief), she went through a grueling 15 hours labour that she could have avoided, if only she were abroad. According to her, “it was like going to hell and back”.

She survived but her baby did not; it  died of suffocation, as Lara was too exhausted from the prolonged labour pain and could not push the  baby out on time. Lara was discharged from hospital but had to be readmitted after days of hallucination due to postpartum psychosis.(Experts say severe labour pain causes dissatisfaction in women and this is a major cause of postpartum depression).

Epidural is a means to an end and should be given to expectant mothers who do not wish to go through excruciating pains of labour. According to the findings of a  research, in the University of Port Harcourt, Department of Anaesthesiology, by Dr. S. Fyneface-Ogan and others on pain reliefs for women in labour,”the overall experience of labour was much better (it was also better than expected) in the epidural group when compared with that in the non-epidural group”.

The findings went on: “72% of women had inadequate pain relief in the non-epidural group as compared to 8% women in the epidural group”. Many women in that group were satisfied with experience of epidural analgesia which is about 100% pain-free than those who did not receive this form of pain relief.

Other options include Etonox, Pethidine, and the birth pool which is becoming popular and you have the right to ask for these pain reliefs if the hospital is so equipped.

The study concluded that “epidural labour analgesia is acceptable in our  setting” and the views of many Nigerian women in labour from the study shows that epidural is a preferred choice and the 100% pain-relief will be embraced by a lot of women.

As a result of some of these difficulties encountered by our women during labour, government needs to do more in alleviating the pains of child delivery by creating awareness in women and equipping public hospitals with the appropriate tools and skilled manpower.

Everybody’s pain threshold is different. In other words, women have varying levels of pain which they can bear. Unfortunately, many women labour under the fallacy of old wives tale of suffering and believing they would soon forget the horrendous experience after the birth of the baby, but this can only happen when you and the baby survive the delivery.

In this part of the world, there is a high rate of infant mortality and maternal fatalities due to ignorance. Many mothers-to-be are not well informed about the benefits of a good pain relief hence the rate of request is  low in Nigeria. Although the journey into the delivery room could be unpredictable, getting the right information would give you an edge.

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