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A combination of impeccable infrastructure coupled with well-trained staff is Aster hospitals’ secret to consistently setting the standards for obstetrics and gynaecology in the UAE. Neonatal mortality is 2.36 at Aster hospitals against the UAE benchmark of 4, thanks to timely interventions during labour, and their birth trauma rate is 0.15 against the UAE’s 1.04.

“In Aster, we have a low neonatal mortality rate due to better antenatal care for the management of pregnancy complications, early identification of birth defects by experienced radiologists, as well as early identification, prevention and management of pre-term birth,” explains Dr Safeena Anas, who heads the Obstetrics and Gynaecology department at Aster Hospital, Al Qusais.

“Proper antenatal care, monitoring of the baby by ultrasound, continuous foetal heart monitoring during labour, and one-to-one care of the patient by trained staff and experienced doctors in the labour room help in timely intervention of any complication. This helps in preventing newborn birth injuries.”

Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), critical care units, and delivery suites outfit every Aster hospital’s OB/GYN department. “Our advanced NICU, which has about 16 ventilators and experienced neonatologists providing around-the-clock care, has cared for premature babies as young as 24 weeks,” adds Dr Ann Mini Mathew, Head of Aster Hospital Mankhool’s Obstetrics and Gynaecology department.

Our advanced NICU, which has about 16 ventilators and experienced neonatologists providing around-the-clock care, has cared for premature babies as young as 24 weeks.

- Dr Ann Mini Mathew, Head of Aster Hospital Mankhool’s Obstetrics and Gynaecology department

Aster hospitals manage about 4,600 deliveries every year with minimal post-delivery complications. Only 1 out of 100 expectant mothers admitted at Aster experiences third- and fourth-degree obstetric trauma during vaginal delivery, against a global rate of 4-13 out of 100 women. They also have a good track record in managing high-risk and complicated pregnancies. Dr Mathew credits this to the experienced obstetricians who come together with the endocrinologist, critical care physicians and general physicians along with the registrars who are also qualified gynaecologists. For a comfortable and soothing experience, the labour room provides most compassionate one-to-one nursing services along with modalities for a painless delivery, including epidural analgesia. “This helps us achieve positive outcomes in 99.9 per cent of the emergency cases,” she says.

But to ensure a successful pregnancy and delivery it is better to start planning in advance. “Prenatal care helps to decrease the risks during pregnancy and increase the chance of a safe delivery," says Dr Anas. “Care should start from this preconceptional period itself, which helps to identify any undetected diseases or manage any chronic illness.

Prenatal care helps to decrease the risks during pregnancy and increase the chance of a safe delivery.

- Dr Safeena Anas, Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology department at Aster Hospital, Al Qusais

“Pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, epilepsy, heart disease, anaemia, blood-clotting disorders, and gastro-intestinal disorders can negatively affect pregnancy and the foetus.

“We provide preconceptional care for the management of such conditions before the woman becomes pregnant.”

At the very beginning of the pregnancy consultation, women are categorised into low- and high-risk patients. While low-risk patients have a review once every month until 24 weeks and then twice every month until 36 weeks, high-risk patients – who have had caesarean deliveries and women with pre-existing conditions like hypertension and diabetes – will be reviewed more frequently depending on their requirements.

Aster’s obstetricians are also experts at managing other complications such as multiple pregnancies, epilepsy, infections and blood disorders. Their expertise also lies in lower segment C-sections (uterine incision), which result in less blood loss and allow women to attempt a vaginal delivery the next time.

Aster understands that a baby’s arrival is the start of a fresh set of challenges and a new learning curve for mothers such as breast-feeding and post-partum depression. The Aster Nurture programme was developed to handhold mothers through this journey.

“Post-partum care is equally important and this comprehensive programme cares for mother and baby from conception, through pregnancy, up until the child is 5 years old,” explains Dr Anas. “It also includes ultrasound where radiologists identify birth defects early on, key diagnostic tests, and post-natal obstetrics and gynaecology consultation.”

The programme conducts free educational sessions on lactation conducted by in-house lactation experts, signs of labour explained by midwives, diet tips from a dietician and prenatal yoga taught by a physiotherapist. Such is the effectiveness of the Aster Nurture programme that more than 8,000 couples have signed up for it.

A cut above the rest

It’s not just pregnancy-related services that’re Aster’s focus. Its OB/GYN departments straddle every other aspect of female health, right from menarche to menopause. Their doctors help patients manage hormonal dysfunctions, provides cancer awareness and prevention, as well as pre-menopausal and post-menopausal counselling, explains Dr Anas.

This holistic approach to female reproductive health is another reason why Aster’s gynaecology departments are a cut above the rest. “We also provide treatment for common gynaecological disorders such as polycystic ovaries, heavy menstrual bleeding, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, and ovarian cysts.”

Dr Mathew has a word of caution for women in the UAE who harbour the notion that heavy bleeding is normal during periods.

“We have come across patients whose haemoglobin has fallen to six and even four and have required blood transfusion.” So it’s important to not brush off heavy bleeding as a regular occurrence and consult a doctor.

The excellence of Aster specialists doesn’t end at meticulous consultations but extends to the surgical realm too, with minimally invasive procedures that run the gamut.

“One of the advances that has changed OB/GYN care is the introduction of laparoscopy,” explains Dr Mathew. “About 90 per cent of gynaec surgeries at Aster Hospital Mankhool are done laparoscopically, from removing endometriosis, cysts and fibroids as big as 2kg, to total hysterectomies, thanks to our excellent laparoscopy team including experienced anaesthetist.”

Experts in laparoscopic procedures
Aster hospitals conduct more than 700 minimally invasive procedures every year including
● Laparoscopic removal of uterus
● Laparoscopic removal of fibroids
● Laparoscopic management of tubal ectopic pregnancy and scar ectopic pregnancy
● Laparoscopic sacrocolpopexy, a surgical procedure for treating pelvic organ prolapse
● Laparoscopic management of endometriosis and adenomyosis
● Laparoscopic removal of ovarian cysts irrespective of size
● Laparoscopic cervical encirclage

These specialist perform more than 1,000 laparoscopic surgeries in a year. The laparoscope, a long, thin tube with high-intensity light and a high-resolution camera, is inserted into the abdominal wall through a 1- 1.5cm incision, and images displayed on a video monitor guides the surgery that doctors perform through additional small incisions.

“Laparoscopic procedures work in favour of the patients as recovery period is shorter,” she adds. “After a laparoscopic hysterectomy (removal of uterus), patients can leave the hospital in two days and resume work after a week of rest, and they experience less post-operative pain and scarring.”

So, whether you’re doubled over in pain every month during your period, find yourself expecting a baby, or are combating menopause’s hot flashes, Aster’s competent obstetrics and gynaecology teams have the solutions. ●

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What to expect at Aster when you’re expecting
● Level 3 NICU to sustain premature newborns
● Epidural procedures for painless delivery; post-operative blocks to reduce pain
● Laparoscopic management of tubal ectopic pregnancy and scar ectopic pregnancy
● Gynaecologist consultation for 12-28 weeks of pregnancy, 28-40 weeks of pregnancy
● State-of-the-art delivery suites with en suite Critical Care Unit
● Advanced radiological facilities
● Aster Nurture programme

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