Health Service Focus

01.11.19

Women using painkillers in childbirth drops 6% in a decade

NHS Digital published a report yesterday (Oct 31) on NHS Maternity Statistics, with detailed information on care in NHS hospitals in England received before, during and after delivery from the Hospital Episodes Statistics (HES) database.

The report shows that the percentage of women using analgesics or anaesthetics before or during childbirth has fallen from 67% in 2008-09 to 61% in 2018-19, according to new NHS Digital figures.

The number of deliveries has also dropped to its lowest level in a decade, with a 7.5% decrease with the most common method of delivery as spontaneous, apart from in women 40 and over where the most common method was caesarean.

As well as the decline in deliveries and painkillers, the report also outlines that deliveries for women under 20 have more than halved in a decade. With the number at 42,209 in 2008-09 down to 16,956 in 2018-19.

Numbers indicate that some women are choosing to have children later in life, with deliveries for women in their thirties increasing by 7% in the last decade.

Included in the report are figures from the Maternity Services Data Set (MSDS) covering information on the labour and delivery, along with babies’ demographics, diagnoses and screening tests.

Data from MSDS are classed as experimental statistics, meaning they give useful indications of key patterns, but should be treated carefully.

New figures are included for the first time in the data this year, including women taking a folic acid supplement prior to or upon getting pregnant (83%) and alcohol status.

Alcohol status was reported in only 60% (327,495) of antenatal bookings. With 97.2% of these women (318,363) reporting a zero-alcohol intake.

Other MSDS data shows that 82% of women with babies born at gestation of at least 37 weeks had skin to skin contact within an hour of birth and 75% of babies received breast milk as their first feed.

More figures showed that 50% of women were recorded as overweight or obese and 12% of women reported that they smoked at the time of their booking.

 

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