Heavy bleeding during pregnancy or labour, is the leading cause for maternal deaths in Rwanda, accounting for 34 percent of deaths, according to the Maternal Deaths Audit, 2010.
According to the chairperson of Rwanda Midwives Association, Josephine Murekezi, severe bleeding occurs as a result of various causes, including uterine rupture, a separation through the thickness of the uterine wall at the site of a prior caesarean incision.
The symptoms of a uterine rupture are vaginal bleeding, unusual abdominal pain or tenderness and sharp pain between contractions, among many others. She revealed that injuries such as cuts and tears when a woman is giving birth. Other causes of the condition are poor clotting factors which make it impossible for a woman to stop bleeding or when a baby is too big.
Murekezi however noted that most of the causes are preventable if women have good antenatal care and visit a hospital often throughout the pregnancy.
“During the first trimester (first three months), pregnant women should visit the hospital at least once and twice a month in the second trimester. After 36 weeks during pregnancy, women should visit the hospital every week,”Murekezi said.
She observed that with regular visits, any likely complications can be identified early enough and dealt with.
Murekezi said that women should always rush to hospital in case of any arising complications. She further called upon expectant mothers to feed well and prevent anaemia.
Agatha Mutamba, a midwife at Rwanda Military Hospital, urged women to feed well during pregnancy.
She recommended vegetables, fruits, dairy products, fish, eggs and carbohydrates among others. Mutamba said that these would give women needed energy and nutrients vital for both the mother and the baby.
Other reported causes of maternal deaths in Rwanda include malaria, anesthesia, heart failure and anaemia in pregnancy.