It is more dangerous to inject a medicine
than to take it by mouth. But sometimes, especially in emergencies, injections are
the most effective way to give a medicine. Give injections only when absolutely
necessary, and learn to do so safely.
Injections are given much too often. In many places, when someone feels sick,
the first thing they do is get an injection — sometimes of vitamins, sometimes of
antibiotics or some other drug. These types of injections rarely do anything to heal
the sickness. They are often an unnecessary expense, and can be dangerous.
WARNING! Injections can be dangerous:
• The place an injection is given can become
infected and can cause an abscess.
• Some injected medicines can cause
strong allergic reactions.
• Injections with unsterile needles
can spread disease — like hepatitis
Sterilize your needle
before you use it — or
it can cause an abscess.
• A midwife (or anyone who gives an injection) has a
small risk of accidentally sticking the needle in herself
after giving an injection. If this happens, she is at risk of
catching diseases like hepatitis or HIV.
• Injections to speed up labor can harm the baby and
mother. Never use an injection to speed up labor.
Here are some times when an injection is helpful or necessary:
• severe bleeding after birth. Injecting oxytocin can stop bleeding.
• convulsions or pre-eclampsia during labor and birth. Giving magnesium
sulfate can prevent a convulsion.
• infections of the mother after birth. Injecting antibiotic medicines can
quickly stop the infection.
• sewing tears after birth. Injecting pain medicine makes sewing hurt less.
Remember: Never give an injection if medicine by mouth will
work just as well.
Remember that some medicines can cause serious allergic reactions. See page 465
to learn more about allergic reactions and how to treat them.
A Book for Midwives (2010)