Two months ago, doctors knew that Delice Mukamurerwa's first birth would be complicated. Thanks to their efforts, today, she nurtures a two-month old son, whom she delivered after undergoing a caesarean section at Kibagabaga hospital in Kigali.
"Yes, it was extremely scary but I did not care as long as the process was successful.
I felt relief after just a few hours," she recalls. "The best moment is when your child cuddles in your arms as you breastfeed."
Mukamurerwa's delivery isn't so uncommon in Rwanda anymore. Procedures like this have helped Rwanda to reduce maternal deaths by half over the last 20 years. However, doctors say faster progress is still needed.
In order to make reproductive health services accessible amid the reasonable financial investment made among a string of other health challenges, more has to be done, says Dr. Fidel Ngabo, the Coordinator of Maternal and Child Health at the Ministry of Health.
"There is significant political will, where multiple policy interventions have been made to enable pregnant mothers give birth in hospitals," Dr. Ngabo said.
He explained that while at the hospital, expectant mothers are encouraged to adopt good health practices. And according to Dr. Ngabo, this is why Rwanda has excelled.
"Due to simple initiatives such as increasing the number of ambulances and establishing hospitals and maternity centres across the country, maternal deaths have reduced progressively," he adds.
He explains that out of 100,000 new births, the number of child deaths has been reduced from 1,071 in 2010 to currently 476.
During this year's World Health Organisation's annual assembly in Geneva, Rwanda was ranked among five countries recognised for having reduced maternal mortality by more than half. Rwanda was credited alongside Malawi, Ethiopia, Nepal and Yemen for prioritising family planning and women's health.
It was handed the 2012 Resolve Award for having beat other countries in prioritising reproductive health.
A report, Trends in Maternal Mortality, indicates that between 1990 and 2010, the annual number of maternal deaths in the world dropped from more than 543,000 to 287,000 - ¬ a decline of 47 per cent.
However, every two minutes, a woman still dies of pregnancy-related complications, the most common causes being severe bleeding after childbirth, infections, high blood pressure during pregnancy, and unsafe abortion, according to the report.
It further states that, 99 per cent of maternal deaths occur in developing countries and most could have been prevented with proven interventions. Medics say that family planning is a fundamental right which helps to save lives, thus building a foundation for global economic development.
"There is a need to adopt initiatives which might change the lives of the world's 215 million women who deserve regular access to reproductive health information or services," quotes the report.
Reproductive health in Rwanda is a critical component of development, creating the need to achieve the unmet target of implementing family planning, says Dr. Ngabo.
In order to fully prevent maternal deaths, there is need to improve access to voluntary family planning, invest in health workers with midwifery skills.
These interventions have proven to save lives and accelerate progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5.
Even if disparity exists within and across countries and regions, one third of all maternal deaths occur in just two countries.
Global statistics show that in 2010, almost 20 per cent of deaths (56,000) were in India and 14 per cent (40,000) were in Nigeria.
Of the 40 countries with the world's highest rates of maternal death, 36 are in sub-Saharan Africa.
Just like Rwanda, Eastern Asia also made reasonable progress in preventing maternal deaths.
There is a contraceptive prevalence rate of 84 per cent as opposed to only 22 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa, a region that has the highest rates of maternal death.
While substantial progress has been achieved, many countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, risk failing to reach the MDG target of reducing maternal death by 75 per cent in 2015.
But basing on Mukamurerwa's experience, accurate and timely medical intervention can significantly reduce the maternal mortality rate in Rwanda.
Even if there are parochial fears when mothers prepare to undergo an operation for the first time, there is hope amidst this unpredictable life.
There can be an oasis of hope and redemption because today the world is more committed than ever towards improving reproductive health. And just like Mukamurerwa, more mothers will successfully give birth and there will be no more needless maternal and child mortality in the country.