South African Medical Journal

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Knowledge and expectations of labour among primigravid women in the public health sector

F Ibach, R A Dyer, S Fawcus, S J Dyer


Objectives. We analysed knowledge and expectations of the
process and pain of labour in primigravidas attending a
local midwifery obstetric unit (MOU). It was anticipated that
the results of this study could inform the development of
interventions aimed at improving the analgesic care of women
delivering at primary health care obstetric units.
Design. Qualitative analysis of data obtained from in-depth
semi-structured interviews.
Setting. A Cape Town MOU.
Subjects. 30 black African, Xhosa-speaking primigravidas.
Outcome measures. An open-ended interview guide was
developed. The themes explored included previous painful
experiences, knowledge of labour, expectations of and attitudes
towards labour pain, and knowledge of biomedical analgesia.
Results. Patients were poorly informed about the process
and pain of labour. Most women appeared highly motivated
concerning their ability to cope with labour. Most expected
pain, but had no concept of the severity or duration of the pain,
and knew very little concerning methods available for pain
relief in labour.
Conclusion. Women at this MOU were poorly prepared for
the experience of delivery. Antenatal programmes should
incorporate sensitive education concerning the process and
pain of labour and the methods available to alleviate pain.

South African Medical Journal Vol. 97 (6) 2007: pp. 461-464

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