Forget the pain: one in five Dutch births now involves an epidural

Forget the pain: one in five Dutch births now involves an epidural

10th April 2015, Comments 0 comments

The Dutch credo was always that pain was a natural part of the process of child birth but that appears to be changing.

There has been a significant increase in the number of women giving birth in the Netherlands with the aid of an epidural, broadcaster Nos reports on Wednesday.

The use of epidurals as a painkiller has doubled over the past five years, according to Maastricht University researcher Martine Wassen. In 2003, just 5.4% of births involved an epidural, but the total reached 18.5% in 2013.

‘The Dutch culture has been one of home births, but that is gradually changing,’ Wassen said.

The trend is particularly apparent among new mothers. Almost 30% of women having their first baby had an epidural injection in 2013, compared with just 8% in 2003.


Anneke Kwee, from the Dutch gynaecologists’ association NVOG, told the broadcaster the shift is partly due to new guidelines, drawn up in 2008. ‘Those guidelines make it clear that the advantages of pain relief are bigger than the disadvantages,’ she said.

‘There is now better information for patients. If women want pain relief, they get it,’ she said.

Eight out of 10 women now give birth in hospital or a day clinic, compared with seven in 10 in 2006. This is a logical development, said Kwee. ‘More epidurals means more hospital births. That is where the injections have to be given,’ she said.

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