University of Oulu

Rantala, A., Hakala, M., Pölkki, T. (2022). Women’s perceptions of the pain assessment and non-pharmacological pain relief methods used during labor: A cross-sectional survey. European Journal of Midwifery, 6(April), 1-10.

Women’s perceptions of the pain assessment and non-pharmacological pain relief methods used during labor : a cross-sectional survey

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Author: Rantala, Arja1,2,3; Hakala, Mervi2; Pölkki, Tarja1,4
Organizations: 1Research Unit of Nursing Science and Health Management, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Department of Children and Women, Oulu University Hospital, Northern Ostrobothnia Hospital District, Oulu, Finland
3Oulu University of Applied Sciences, Oulu, Finland
4Medical Research Center Oulu, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: European Publishing, 2022
Publish Date: 2023-01-03


Introduction:: The use of non-pharmacological pain relief methods and pain assessment scales during labor has received limited research attention. This study aimed to describe women’s perceptions of the pain assessment and non-pharmacological pain relief methods used during labor.

Methods: A descriptive, cross-sectional survey was conducted. A convenience sample of women (n=204) from one Finnish maternity ward participated in the study. Women who had given birth were asked to respond to a validated questionnaire between November 2018 and February 2019. The statistical significance of observed differences was analyzed using the chi-squared test.

Results: Less than half (46%) of the women who gave birth at the hospital were asked to assess the intensity of their pain on a pain assessment scale. The most commonly used non-pharmacological pain relief methods were encouragement (92%), the presence of a midwife (82%), and proper breathing technique that was taught by a midwife (81%). Aqua blisters (3%), reflexology (e.g. zone magnets, 5%), and music (9%) were the least commonly used non-pharmacological methods during labor. The participants’ experiences of fear and pain were significantly associated with the implementation of pain assessment.

Conclusions: Women’s pain was rarely evaluated by using a certain pain assessment scale. In addition, non-pharmacological pain relief methods were inadequately used during labor. More specifically, methods that required midwives’ own personal contributions were rarely offered to the women.

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Series: European journal of midwifery
ISSN: 2585-2906
ISSN-E: 2585-2906
ISSN-L: 2585-2906
Volume: 6
Issue: April
Pages: 1 - 10
DOI: 10.18332/ejm/146136
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 316 Nursing
3123 Gynaecology and paediatrics
Funding: This work was supported by the Nursing Training Foundation in Finland.
Copyright information: Published by European Publishing. © 2022 Rantala A. et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. (