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Perception of labour pain and desire for pain relief in labour among parturients in a tertiary health facility in south-eastern Nigeria

Ifeanyichukwu U. Ezebialu
Cyril C. Ezenyeaku
Joseph C. Umeobika
Lawrence C. Ikeako
Geoffery I. Ubboe
Chukwuemeka E. Ojiyi


Background: There are varied perceptions about pain and its relief in labour among pregnant women in Africa.

Objectives: This study aims to assess the perception of labour pain among parturients in a tertiary health institution in Nigeria. It also assessed the women’s awareness of and desire for labour analgesia.

Methodology: One thousand, one hundred (1100) consecutive women who delivered at a University Teaching Hospital were studied using pretested researcher administered questionnaires. Data were entered into and analysed with SPSS 21. Statistical tests were done with Chi- square and T- test as appropriate. P-value of less than 0.05 was considered significant.

Result: The mean age of the respondents was 29.2 + 5.89 while the mean parity was 2.43 + 1.59. One thousand and ninety respondents (99.1%) reported that labour was painful and majority (91.3%) of them graded pain as severe. The mean pain score was 85.1 + 16.2. Having antenatal care, partner support, attendance to antenatal classes, delivery by emergency C-section and induced labour were significantly associated with identifying labour as painful. Awareness of labour analgesia was poor as only 39.5% of the respondents reported so and only 1.4% of the parturients requested pain relief.

Conclusion: The women generally reported labour as being very painful, yet they had poor knowledge of, and demand for labour analgesia. This poor knowledge exists despite the fact that majority of these women had antenatal care, suggesting that health information given to them may be deficient. Misconceptions were the main reasons for not requesting pain relief in labour.

Keywords: Labour analgesia, Labour pain, Knowledge, Acceptance