Women ‘unprepared for pain of childbirth’

Women 'unprepared for pain of childbirth' say researchers

Many women underestimate the pain of childbirth and believe they can manage without drugs, a new study suggests.

Ante-natal classes have been blamed for failing to prepare women for the reality of giving birth, after researchers at Newcastle University found new mothers were often traumatised by the ‘intensity’ of the pain they experience in labour.

Women also formed ‘unrealistic’ expectations believing that they wouldn’t need pain relief during childbirth.

In the UK, nearly a quarter of women who give birth have an epidural to cut painful contractions, even though many do not plan to have one.

According to one of the 69 studies, collated by researchers, over half of women who said they didn’t want any pain relief, changed their minds on entering the delivery room.

Researchers explained too few ante-natal classes used birth plans designed to help mothers make realistic choices about childbirth.

Joanne Lally from Newcastle University said: ‘Plans for a labour free of pain relief need to be complemented by preparing women for the possibility that they might need pain relief.

‘Education can help to fill the gap between expectation and experience and thus ensure women are realistically prepared.’

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