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Disruption of physiological labour; – A population register-based study among nulliparous women at term

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  • Eva Rydahl, University College Copenhagen
  • ,
  • Mette Juhl, University College Copenhagen
  • ,
  • Eugene Declercq, Boston University
  • ,
  • Rikke Damkjær Maimburg

Objectives: Current labour practices have seen an acceleration in interventions to either initiate, monitor, accelerate, or terminate the physiological process of pregnancy and childbirth. This study aimed to describe and analyse the use of interventions in childbirth in Denmark over almost two decades (2000–2017). We also examined the extent to which contemporary care adheres to current international recommendations towards restricted use of interventions. Study design: A national retrospective Danish register-based cohort study including all nulliparous women with term births with singleton pregnancy and a foetus in cephalic between the years 2000 and 2017 (n = 380,326 births). Multivariate regression analyses with adjustment for change in population were performed. Main outcome measures: Induction of labour, epidural analgesia, and augmentation of labour. Results: Between 2000/2001 and 2016/2017, the prevalence increased for induction of labour from 5.1% to 22.8%, AOR 4.84, 95% CI [4.61–5.10], epidural analgesia from 10.5% to 34.3% (AOR 4.10, 95% CI [3.95–4.26]), and augmentation of labour decreased slightly from 40.1% to 39.3% (AOR 0.84, 95% CI [0.81–0.86]). Having more than one of the three mentioned interventions increased from 12.8% in to 30.9%. Conclusions: The number of interventions increased during the study period as well as the number of interventions in each woman. As interventions may interfere in physiological labour and carry the risk of potential short- and long-term consequences, the findings call for a careful re-evaluation of contemporary maternity care with a “first, do no harm” perspective.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100571
JournalSexual and Reproductive Healthcare
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

    Research areas

  • Augmentation, Cesarean section [MeSH], Epidural [MeSH], Induced [MeSH], Labour, Medicalization [MeSH]

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