Women Are Receiving More Pain Relief During Labour

Giving birth is increasingly
accompanied by analgesia
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Researchers from the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center looked at survey responses from 378 hospitals that provided obstetric services in 2001, grouping the hospitals according to the number of births per year (1,500 or more, 500 - 1,499 and fewer than 500). They found that only six to ten percent of mothers had no analgesia during labour in 2001, compared to eleven to 33 percent in 1992. Hospitals doing more deliveries generally had fewer mothers going without anaesthesia in both years.

“Mothers have come to expect the kind of pain relief provided by regional techniques. With recent studies showing that having this type of anaesthesia early in labour will not increase chances of a caesarean delivery, I think their popularity will continue,” said lead author Brenda Bucklin, M.D.

As women have embraced techniques that can make them more comfortable for more of their labour, demand for anaesthesia services in hospitals is growing as well. Most anaesthesia for labour and Caesarean delivery was directly provided or supervised by anaesthesiologists. In hospitals providing care for 1,500 or more births during 2001, an anaesthesiologist was involved in 95 percent of cases.

Regional analgesia, including epidural, spinal or combined epidural-spinal techniques, accounted for 76 percent of the anaesthesia services provided in the larger hospitals, and for 57 percent of services in the smaller hospitals. These figures represent a significant increase since 1992. Mothers are less likely to receive parenteral narcotics as their only source of pain relief.

The survey also revealed that the use of spinal anaesthesia increased for C-section deliveries, but use of epidural anaesthesia decreased. General anaesthesia was still being used in 15 to 30 percent of emergency C-sections.

MEDICA.de; Source: American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA)