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JIS News

Pregnant women using the maternity ward at the May Pen hospital in Clarendon can now deliver their babies with less discomfort, with the launch of its epidural service last Tuesday (February 28).
In an interview with JIS News, Dr. Cecily Thompson, Consultant Anaesthesiologist at the hospital, explained that the service would greatly reduce the discomfort experienced during labour.
“Patients have a much more comfortable labour. The concept that ‘pain brings baby’ is not true. It is contractions that brings baby and epidural analgesia allows them to have the contractions without the pain and the baby still comes,” she said.
According to Dr. Thompson, pregnant women would have a positive experience of the birthing process, the kind of fatigue and distress associated with labour would be reduced; therefore mothers would be able to bond faster and more readily with their babies.
She pointed out that the epidural service would be available for just under $20,000.
“Epidural analgesia is already available in Jamaica in the private sector. It is quite costly and therefore not available to all the public. We’re trying to make this service more available to the public at this hospital by basically doing this service at cost and it’s good quality analgesia for labour. The service costs just under $20,000 as compared to anywhere between US$1,000 (J$65,000) and US$1,500 (J$97,500) in the private sector,” she noted.
She explained that the cost was on par with other costs in public sector hospitals, adding that the service would be an additional cost should a pregnant mother choose this option.
Dr. Thompson told JIS News that the service commenced two weeks ago with three procedures. These, she noted, were done free of cost as a means of introducing the service to patients and also as training for staff at the hospital.
She said that women who access the service would benefit more than the patient undergoing regular delivery, as she would be provided with care from two teams of doctors instead of one, in addition to having her own midwife to closely monitor her condition.
The Consultant pointed out that the hospital has implemented a drive to educate patients about the options available to them.
“We intend to capture patients at the antenatal clinic. As you know, all patients are required to do a certain number of antenatal visits prior to delivery with the frequency increasing towards the end of the term. So I’ll be visiting the antenatal clinic to speak to pregnant mothers about the service. That’s when I’ll answer questions, examine them, tell them about their options if that’s what they need,” she said.
The May Pen hospital is one of three in the island now offering the service. The others are St. Ann’s Bay Hospital and the University Hospital of the West Indies.