Aim: women use various labour pain management techniques during birth. The objective of this study is to investigate women׳s use of pharmacological and non-pharmacological labour pain management techniques in relation to birth outcomes.
Methods: a sub-survey of a nationally representative sample of pregnant women (n=1835) from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women׳s Health.
Results: our analysis identified women׳s use of water for labour pain management as decreasing the likelihood of their baby being admitted to special care nursery (OR=0.42, p<0.004) whereas the use of epidural increased this likelihood (OR=3.38, p<0.001) as well as for instrumental childbirth (OR=7.27, p<0.001). Epidural and pethidine use decreased women׳s likelihood of continuing breast-feeding (ORs=0.68 and 0.59, respectively, both p<0.01) whereas the use of breathing techniques and massage for pain control increased the likelihood of women continuing breast-feeding (ORs=1.72 and 1.62, respectively, both p<0.01).
Conclusions: our study illustrates associations between the use of both pharmacological and non-pharmacological labour pain management techniques and selected birth outcomes while controlling for confounding variables. There remain significant gaps in the evidence base for the use of non-pharmacological labour pain control methods and our findings provide a platform with which to develop a broad clinical research programme around this topic.
Keywords: Childbirth; Infant health; Labour pain; Pain management; Pregnancy outcome.
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