Water injections can relieve labour back pain, claims University of Queensland study

on 06 July 2020

Researchers at the University of Queensland have carried out a study to determine whether sterile water injections were effective in relieving back pain during labour.

Data for the study was collected from one British and 15 Australian maternity units dating between 2012 and 2017.

During this period more than one thousand women were given water injections or a placebo of saline solution.

The study found that twice as many of those women who received the water injections reported their pain had reduced for 90 minutes or longer.

Dr Nigel Lee, from the University of Queensland School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Care, said: “This research provides definitive evidence that water injections offer effective pain relief for the majority of women with labour back pain.”

The study was conducted because there was limited research to suggest that water injections were effective in relieving labour back pain, with some hospitals refusing to support the procedure.

“Some midwives, have used this practice in order to provide pain relief for a number of years, however until now, there has always been limited research to suggest that it works.

“The implications of the results of our trial are huge. Unlike normal labour pain, back labour pain is unpredictable and often continues between contractions and with no break.

“Most drugs provided for labour pain are ineffective for back pain which may persist even after an epidural have been given.

“Water injections have been shown to be simple, effective and safe, and to have no effect on birth outcomes,” Dr Nigel Lee says.

The research was conducted in collaboration with the University of Queensland, Charles Darwin University, University of Skövde and Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The ‘Caesarean delivery rates and analgesia effectiveness following injections of sterile water for back pain in labour: A multicentre, randomised, placebo controlled trial’ study was published in The Lancet.