Knowledge and use of sterile water injections amongst midwives in the United Kingdom: A cross-sectional study

Nigel Lee, Julie Jomeen, Lena B. Mårtensson, Vanessa Emery, Sue Kildea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The use of sterile water injections (SWI) for the relief of pain in labour is popular amongst midwives in countries such as Sweden and Australia. Anecdotal reports suggest the procedure is used less commonly in the United Kingdom (UK) and that a number of barriers to introducing the practice may exist. 

Objective: The objective of this study was to explore the awareness and use of SWI amongst midwives in the UK. 

Design: A cross-sectional study using an internet-based questionnaire. Participants: Midwives with Nursing and Midwifery Council Registration and currently practicing. 

Setting: The questionnaire was distributed via the Royal College of Midwives Facebook page and Twitter account. Invitations to participate were also sent to Heads of Midwifery to distribute to staff. 

Findings: Three hundred and ninety-eight midwives completed the survey. Eighty-two percent of midwives did not use SWI in practice although 69% would consider learning the procedure. There was considerable variation in techniques amongst midwives that did provide SWI. The lack of available practice guidelines and the advice from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence to not use SWI were cited as the main barriers. 

Key conclusions: SWI use is uncommon in the UK although midwives are interested in incorporating the procedure into practice. Implications for practice: National guidance on SWI and the lack of information and training is restricting the use of the procedure in practice, despite SWI being widely used in other countries and being effective in the treatment of pain in labour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-14
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


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