There is little information on the factors that influence epidural uptake in the Middle East. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the uptake is low, overall, but rising due to socio-economic change and increased awareness of analgesia options in labour. The low prevalence of epidural in labour is influenced by many factors; however, there is a general lack of information about epidurals, both risks and benefits.
This study was a questionnaire -based study eliciting women’s knowledge of epidural analgesia immediately post-delivery. It was based on a survey using a questionnaire with, largely, closed questions, with one final section inviting open-ended comments.
Almost half of the women stated that they did not want an epidural in labour (49.2%, n=125). About a fifth of the respondents (18.1%, n=46) stated that they planned to have an epidural. However, 44 women were undecided (17.3%) and 39 women (15.4%) stated that they did not know about epidurals.
The main reason given for considering an epidural was for pain relief (37.7%, n=95), although the same percentage of women (37.8%, n=96) were clear that they did not want an epidural. Other reasons attracted few responses.
This study demonstrated the lack of knowledge and understanding of epidurals by women in this region. However, some of the reasons for reluctance in accepting epidural analgesia may have cultural roots and this warrants further investigation. Pain relief options available to women should be discussed early in pregnancy by doctors and midwives, who understand the cultural societal norms and who are able to give evidence-based information about the choices available.
Edwards, G, & Ansari, T. A Survey of Women’s Views of Epidural Analgesia in the Middle East. Journal of Asian Midwives. 2015;2(1):34–41.