Background: Contemporary obstetrics in sub-Saharan Africa is yet to meet the analgesic needs of most women during child birth for a satisfactory birth experience and expectedly, obstetricians have a major role to play in achieving this.
Methods: This was a questionnaire-based, cross-sectional study of 151 obstetricians and gynecologists that attended the 46th Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of the Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria (SOGON) held in Abakaliki, southeast Nigeria in November, 2012. SOGON is the umbrella body that oversees the obstetric and gynecological practice in Nigeria. Data was collated and analyzed with Epi-info statistical software, and conclusions were drawn by means of simple percentages and inferential statistics using Odds Ratio, with P-value < 0.05 at 95% Confidence Interval (CI) taken to be statistically significant.
Results: Of the 151 participants, males predominated; 110 (72.9%) practiced in government-owned tertiary hospitals in urban locations. Only 74 (49%) offered obstetric analgesia. Among users, only 20 (13.3%) offered obstetric analgesia routinely to parturients, 44 (29.1%) sometimes and 10 (6.6%) on patients' requests. The commonest analgesia was opioids (41.1%). Among non-users, the commonest reasons adduced were fear of respiratory distress (31.1%), cost (24.7%) and late presentation in labour (15.6%).
Conclusion: The routine prescription and utilization of obstetric analgesia by obstetricians in Nigeria is still low. Obstetricians are encouraged to step up its use to make childbirth a more fulfilling experience for parturients.