The report NHS Maternity Statistics, 2018-19, released today by NHS Digital shows that the use of analgesics or anaesthetics before or during delivery has dropped from 67% of all deliveries in 2008-09 to 61% in 2018-19.
Clare Murphy, Director of External Affairs at bpas, said:
"This data indicates the proportion of women who use analgesics or anaesthetics before or during delivery has decreased. However, this data cannot tell us if this is because fewer women want to use pain relief, or because they could not access the pain relief they wanted. More work is needed to better understand the factors behind this shift. It is important that we avoid framing a decline in the use of pain relief as a cause for celebration. We know that sadly many women can feel they have "failed" if they needed pain relief when they had hoped to manage without, and discussions around modes of delivery must not add to this.
"There is no inherent moral value to giving birth with or without pain relief, at home or in a hospital. What matters is that a woman's choices in pregnancy and childbirth are respected, and that she is able to access the care and support she needs."
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The full report, NHS Maternity Statistics, England 2018-19, is online here https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/nhs-maternity-statistics/2018-19
bpas is a charity which sees more than 80,000 women a year for reproductive healthcare services including pregnancy counselling, abortion care, miscarriage management and contraception, at clinics across the UK. It supports and advocates for reproductive choice. BPAS also runs the Centre for Reproductive Research and Communication, which seeks to develop and deliver a research agenda that furthers women’s access to evidence-based reproductive healthcare, driven by an understanding of women’s perspectives and needs. You can find out more here: https://www.bpas.org/get-involved/centre-for-reproductive-research-communication/