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Pain relief during labour: Women's preferences and received pain management in childbirth
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Women's and Children's Health.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]


A wide range of alternatives in pain management during childbirth are available in the western countries. There is extensive knowledge about women´s wish to take part in the decision making process and women´s knowledge of pain relief methods for childbirth. However, preferences for pain relief methods in labour for pregnant women, and socio-demographic factors contributing to the women´s wish are not fully known.


The aim of this study was to describe what pain relief methods pregnant women prefer during labour as expressed in late pregnancy. An additional aim was to identify socio-demographic factors associated with preferred and received pain relief methods.


A prospective longitudinal cohort study was conducted in 2007 in a northern region of Sweden (n=936). Women attending a routine ultrasound examination at three hospitals were invited to participate. Three questionnaires were filled out at mid-pregnancy, at the end of pregnancy and two months post-partum. Descriptive statistics and chi-square analysis were used. Odds ratios with a 95 % confidence interval were calculated between preferred and received pain relief methods for different explanatory variables.


The most preferred pain relief methods were also the most received pain relief methods; nitrous oxide, bathing, breathing techniques, epidural anesthesia and massage. Women with presumed anxiety, based on their wished mode and fear of birth, were more likely to prefer epidural anesthesia as pain relief in labour. Higher levels of education were associated with a greater likelihood for non-pharmacological pain relief methods. Women born outside Sweden had different preferences compared to women born in Sweden but no differences between the groups were seen in what pain relief they received during labour.


The five most preferred pain managements were the same as the five most received ones. This study shows that not all women receive what they prefer. Even if the preferences were largely met, there are still many women that do not receive their preferred pain relief method during labour. Despite this, women in this study had a positive overall birth experience. Stronger differences in the preferences for pain relief methods were seen when separating different socio-demographic factors.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 27 p.
Keyword [en]
Pain management, pregnancy, labour, preferences, obstetric pain
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-200903OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-200903DiVA: diva2:625327
Subject / course
Caring Sciences
Educational program
Midwifery programme
Available from: 2014-07-29 Created: 2013-06-04 Last updated: 2014-07-29Bibliographically approved

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Lindholm, Annika
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