Pain Not Part Of The Plan

Armen Hareyan's picture

Researchers have warned that "antenatal programmes are giving women an unrealistically rosy view of childbirth", The Daily Mail says today. The Daily Telegraph also covers the story and says that women often believe they will not need pain relief during childbirth. It adds that "new mothers are often shocked at the 'intensity' of the agony they experience".


The newspapers report on a review of a selection of studies that compared women's initial expectations with their actual experience of pain and its relief during childbirth. The researchers found differences between the two when they looked at four areas: the level and type of pain, access to pain relief, control over decision making and the level of control during childbirth.

Obstetrical practice differs between countries, and it should be considered that of the 32 studies included, 22 were conducted in countries other than England. Although this review indicates that women globally may be unprepared for birthing pain, it does not give a clear picture as to the extent of the problem in England.

Identifying such differences provides some direction for future changes in antenatal education and suggests ways to improve support for pregnant women. As the lead researcher says, "people involved in antenatal care should listen to women's hopes for labour while also preparing them for what might actually happen."

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