Painkiller use in childbirth drops six percentage points in a decade

NHS Digital has released a new report that highlights the use of analgesics or anaesthetics before or during delivery has dropped from 67% of all deliveries in 2008-09 to 61% in 2018-19.

The number of deliveries is also at its lowest level in a decade, falling 7.5% from 652,638 in 2008-09 to 603,766 in 2018-19.  There has been a 3.6% drop from 2017-18, when there were 626,203 deliveries.

The NHS Maternity Statistics, 2018-19 brings together detailed information on hospital care received before, during and after delivery from the Hospital Episodes Statistics (HES) database. 

The NHS Digital report also shows:

  • Deliveries for women under 20 have more than halved in a decade, falling from 42,209 in 2008-09, to 16,956 in 2018-19
  • Deliveries for women in their thirties has increased by seven per cent, climbing from 279,206 in 2008-09, to 298,590 in 2018-19.  

Overall, 83% of women reported taking a folic acid supplement prior to or on confirmation of pregnancy, of which the lowest proportion was women under 20 (69%).  

MSDS data also shows:

  • 82% (370,590) of women with babies born at a gestation of at least 37 weeks had skin to skin contact within an hour of birth
  • 75% (372,637) of babies with a reported first feed type, received breast milk as their first feed
  • 50% (230,311) of women were recorded as overweight or obese at their booking appointment
  • 12% (62,314) of women reported that they smoked at their booking appointment 

Read the full report: NHS Maternity Statistics, 2018-19