Epidural use among women with spontaneous onset of labour - an observational study using data from a cluster-randomised controlled trial

Midwifery. 2021 Dec:103:103156. doi: 10.1016/j.midw.2021.103156. Epub 2021 Sep 30.

Abstract

Objective: To investigate whether the proportion of pregnant women who use epidural analgesia during birth differed between women registered at a maternity clinic randomised to Mindfetalness or to routine care.

Design: An observational study including women born in Sweden with singleton pregnancies, with spontaneous onset of labour from 32 weeks' gestation. Data used from a cluster-randomised controlled trial applying the intention-to-treat principle in 67 maternity clinics where women were randomised to Mindfetalness or to routine care. ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT02865759).

Interventions: Midwives were instructed to distribute a leaflet about Mindfetalness to pregnant women at 25 weeks' gestation. Mindfetalness is a self-assessment method for the woman to use to become familiar with the unborn baby's fetal movement pattern. When practising the method in third trimester, the women are instructed to daily lie down on their side, when the baby is awake, and focus on the movements' intensity, character and frequency (but not to count each movement).

Findings: Of the 18 501 women with spontaneous onset of labour, 47 percent used epidural during birth. Epidural was used to a lower extent among women registered at a maternity clinic randomised to Mindfetalness than women in the routine-care group (46.2% versus 47.8%, RR 0.97, CI 0.94-1.00, p= 0.04). Epidural was more common among primiparous women, women younger than 35 years, those with educational levels below university, with BMI ≥25 and with a history of receiving psychiatric care or psychological treatment for mental illness.

Conclusions and implications for practice: Pregnant women who were informed about a self-assessment method, with the aim of becoming familiar with the unborn baby's fetal movement pattern, used epidural to a lower extent than women who were not informed about the method. Future studies are needed to investigate and understand the association between Mindfetalness and the reduced usage of epidural during birth.

Keywords: Epidural analgesia; Fetal movements; Mindfetalness; Mindfulness; Randomised controlled trial.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Analgesia, Epidural*
  • Female
  • Fetal Movement
  • Humans
  • Labor, Obstetric*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnant Women
  • Prenatal Care

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02865759