Health Science Journal

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Pain relief and retaining control during childbirth. a sacrifice of the feminine identity?

Victoria Vivilaki

All over the world every day women are giving birth to their children. The cultural differences are enormous. The present study tries to make a bibliographic review of the studies that discuss the extent to which attitudes to pain and pain relief ultimately affect women’s health. The research question focused on whether culture influences can be oppressive for the attitudes of women and health professionals regarding pain in labour. The search in the Pubmed concerned the period 1973-2007, included articles in the English language and was organised in a form. Pubmed was used, as it is supposed to be one of the biggest full text data bases, specially designed for health professionals. Key-words were grouped into contextual categories In particular this article explores social values relating to pain relief in labour, and argues that all women are to some extent vulnerable and oppressed when in labour. Analgesia has been promoted as a way of retaining control, when it is a sacrifice of the feminine body identity and there is little acknowledgement of the side effects. This action of oppressive liberation is a symptom of nowadays medicalised oppressive nature of the culture of childbirth experience.