Midwives' experiences administering sterile water injections for back pain during labour: a qualitative study

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      There is growing interest in the use of sterile water injections (SWI’s) for pain relief, however many midwives do not offer this option as part of their practice (Lee et al., 2012; Lee et al., 2019). Non-pharmacological approaches such as SWI’s are beneficial because not only do they relieve back pain, they do not pose additional risk to women and their babies (Lee et al., 2013a; Bonapeace et al., 2018). Only one study (Lee, Kildea & Stapleton, 2017) in Australia has investigated the qualitative aspects of using this form of pain relief during labour. Two of the authors of this presentation recently published an integrative review about exploring women’s and midwives’ experiences and perceptions about administering SWI’s as a form of pain relief for back pain during labour.


      The aim of this research was to explore midwives’ perceptions about the experiences of using SWI’s as a method of pain relief for back pain during labour.


      This was a qualitative exploratory study that captured midwives’ experiences using in-depth interviews. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data which involved listening to the recorded data, reading transcripts of data multiple times, identifying and labeling codes in the data, and developing themes and subthemes (Clarke & Braun, 2017).


      Positive effects of SWI’s for women included rapid pain relief, improved ability to relax and speeding up the birth process. Midwives believed that two injections were just as good as four and that the bigger the bleb the more effective the analgesia.


      Our study found that midwives were more likely to administer SWI’s for back pain for women if hospital guidelines and policies were in place in birth units and midwives needing to feel confident in the technique. This non-pharmacological option for pain relief was especially beneficial for occipito-posterior positions.
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