A survey of antenatal and peripartum provision of information on analgesia and anaesthesia

Anaesthesia. 2019 Sep;74(9):1101-1111. doi: 10.1111/anae.14745. Epub 2019 Jun 30.


Pregnant women should receive information about what they might expect to experience during their delivery. Despite this, research shows many women are inadequately prepared for anaesthetic interventions during labour. We surveyed 903 postnatal women across 28 Greater London hospitals about: the analgesic and anaesthetic information that they recalled receiving during pregnancy and delivery; their confidence to make decisions on analgesia; and their satisfaction with the analgesia used. Wide variation was observed between hospitals. Overall, 67 of 749 (9.0%) women recalled receiving antenatal information covering all aspects of labour analgesia, and 108 of 889 (12.1%) covering anaesthesia for caesarean section. Regarding intrapartum information, 256 of 415 (61.7%) respondents recalled receiving thorough information before epidural insertion for labour analgesia, and 102 of 370 (27.6%) before anaesthesia for caesarean section. We found that 620 of 903 (68.7%) women felt well enough informed to be confident in their analgesic choices, and 675 of 903 (74.8%) stated that their analgesia was as expected or better. Receiving information verbally, regardless of provider, was the factor most strongly associated with respondents recalling receiving full information: odds ratio (95%CI) for labour analgesia 20.66 (8.98-47.53; p < 0.0001); epidural top-up for caesarean section 5.93 (1.57-22.35; p = 0.01); and general anaesthesia for caesarean section 12.39 (2.18-70.42; p = 0.01). A large proportion of respondents did not recall being fully informed before an anaesthetic intervention. Collaboration with current antenatal service providers, both in promoting information delivery and providing resources to assist with delivery, could improve the quality of information offered and women's retention of that information.

Keywords: anaesthesia: epidural; anaesthesia: obstetric; anaesthesia: spinal; caesarean section; labour; patient care; questionnaire; satisfaction.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesia, Obstetrical*
  • Anesthesia, Obstetrical*
  • Female
  • Health Communication / methods*
  • Humans
  • London
  • Peripartum Period*
  • Pregnancy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires