Cross sectional study of Australian midwives knowledge and use of sterile water injections for pain relief in labour

Nigel Lee, Lena B. Martensson, Sue Kildea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The effectiveness of sterile water injections (SWI) to relieve back pain in labour is supported by a number of randomised controlled trials. Although the procedure is available in a number of Australian maternity units, there is no information regarding the use of SWI by midwives, in terms of knowledge and availability, clinical application or technique used. Neither is there any data on midwives who do not use SWI nor the specific challengers and barriers encountered by midwives introducing SWI.

Method: An invitation to participate in an online survey was emailed to 4700 members of the Australian College of Midwives (ACM) and 484 members of CRANA. plus (Remote Health Organisation). Nine hundred and seventy midwives completed the survey (19%).

Results: Four hundred and seven (42.5%) midwives currently used SWI in their practice and five hundred and fifty-one (57.5%) indicated they did not. Eighty-six percent (n= 478/548) indicated they would consider using SWI and 90% (n= 500/547) were interested in obtaining further information about SWI. The main reasons cited for not using SWI was the lack of a policy or guideline (n= 271, 57.5%) and being unable to access workshops or resource material (n= 68, 14.4%).

Conclusion: This study indicates that SWI is not being used by the majority of midwives participating in the study, although there is a strong desire by midwives to learn about and explore its use. Greater access to information and workshops on SWI is highlighted. In response to the findings of this survey the authors are currently developing an online resource and training to support units to introduce SWI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e75-e80
Number of pages6
JournalWomen and Birth
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


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