Prolonged Labor: A Silent Killer for New-borns

Medical experts in the field of maternal and child health have identified prolonged labour as one of the silent killers of new born babies

Prolonged labor, experts say typically lasts over 20 hours for first time mothers and over 14 hours for mothers who have already given birth.

Dr. Florence Oyella Otim, a Paediatrician Consultant at Gulu regional referral hospital warns that the effects of prolonged labour on new born babies can be irreversible

‘’Both the baby and the mother will be tired; it leads to depression that will affect the central nervous system and the brain.’’ Said Dr. Oyella

“Prolonged labor also leads to birth defects and cerebral palsy because of the damage in the brain.’’

Cerebral palsy is a group of permanent movement disorders that appear in childhood and children with such conditions may have complications like intellectual disability, speech impairment, among others.

In severe cases, Oyella says, new born babies will die as a result of prolonged labor, and also because the parents can’t manage the complicated conditions in which they were born.

Dr. Oyella was speaking recently at a training for Mid-wives and nurses from Gulu district.


Uganda has one of the highest maternal mortality rate in Africa, at 343/100,000 live births.

Sister Grace Anena, the Gulu Assistant District Health Officer for Maternal and Child health says all expectant Mothers should start coming for antenatal care with their husbands in the first 12 weeks of the pregnancy so that any complications can be detected and avoided early.

She also urged mid wives and nurses to improve on the communication and care for the expectant mothers because they need a lot of guidance to avoid complications like hypertension, still birth among others.

According to Alice Nyadoi, the Program Officer for Health from Voluntary Service Overseas[VSO], they have been training midwives and nurses with the aim to improve maternal new born health in the district.

She also revealed that they have supported Gulu referral hospital and other health facilities with equipment and machines to improve on the breathing of babies


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