"Not taken seriously"—A qualitative interview study of postpartum Rwandan women who have experienced pregnancy-related complications Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND:There is limited knowledge on the women's experiences of pregnancy-related complications in Rwanda. This study aimed to investigate women's experiences and perceptions of specific complications during pregnancy and delivery and the consequences of these complications on postpartum health and family situation. METHODS:Data were collected through individual in-depth interviews (N = 15). Participants who experienced complications such as postpartum haemorrhage, caesarean section due to prolonged labour/dystocia, pre-eclampsia, or fistula and who were 13-24 months postpartum were invited to participate in the study in July 2015. Interviews were held in Kinyarwanda, digitally recorded, transcribed verbatim, translated into English, and analysed using qualitative content analysis. RESULTS:Most participants reported that they were previously unaware of the complications they had developed, and they claimed that at discharge they should have been better informed about the potential consequences of these complications. Most participants blamed the health care system as the cause of their problems due to the provision of inadequate care. Participants elaborated different strategies for coping with persistent health problems. Pregnancy-related complications negatively affected participants' economic situation due to increased health care expenses and lowered income because of impaired working capacity, and participants expressed fear of encountering the same pregnancy-related health problems during future pregnancies. CONCLUSIONS:The findings of this study demonstrate how participants felt that inadequate health care provision during pregnancy, delivery, and the postpartum period was the source of their problems. Participants reported different coping strategies to improve their respective life situation despite persistent health problems. Women's individual postpartum experiences need to be considered and actions taken at the policy level and also by the local community, in terms of the quality of antenatal and postpartum care services, and in sensitizing the local community about the existence of these complications and preparing the community to support the affected women.

publication date

  • 2019