Most healthcare providers understand that women suffer significant pain during labour, however, the general attitude is that labuor is a natural process, women should be able to cope and that pain relief is not a priority.
Childbirth, however fulfilling, can be a very painful experience for women. Pain relief in labour is considered an essential part of intra-partum care and all women should have the choice of and access to a range of pain relief options for labour and delivery. As the experience of pain in labour is subjective, all woman should have a choice per her preference and individual circumstances.
Healthcare providers (HCPs) have an important role to play in supporting women’s choice and access to pain relief options during labour. In many low resource settings, such as Ethiopia, HCPs’ awareness of the need for pain relief and the possibilities or choice on how and what to do when, is not well documented. We therefore conducted a survey using a structured questionnaire (n=164) distributed to healthcare providers working in the obstetric departments, including theatres, of three public hospitals in different settings (rural, peri-urban and urban) in Ethiopia, with the aim to explore HCPs’ awareness of and attitudes to pain relief for women in labour.
Our findings show that most healthcare providers understand that women suffer significant pain during labour. However, the general attitude is that labor is a natural process, women should be able to cope and that pain relief is not a priority for women in labour. More research is required to understand how to provide effective pain relief as part of routine intra-partum care in Ethiopia, to improve the quality of care women receive during labour.