Aim: To evaluate the use of analgesia for vaginal birth, in women with and without severe maternal morbidity (SMM) and to describe sociodemographic, clinical, and obstetric characteristics and maternal and perinatal outcomes associated with labor analgesia. Methods: Secondary analysis of the WHO Multicountry Survey on Maternal and Newborn Health (WHO-MCS), a global cross-sectional study performed between May 2010 and December 2011 in 29 countries. Women who delivered vaginally and had an SMM were included in this analysis and were then divided into two groups: those who received and those who did not receive analgesia for labor/delivery. We further compared maternal characteristics and maternal and perinatal outcomes between these two groups. Results: From 314,623 women originally included in WHO-MCS, 9,788 developed SMM and delivered vaginally, 601 (6.1%) with analgesia and 9,187 (93.9%) without analgesia. Women with SMM were more likely to receive analgesia than those who did not experience SMM. Global distribution of SMM was similar; however, the use of analgesia was less prevalent in Africa. Higher maternal education, previous cesarean section, and nulliparity were factors associated with analgesia use. Analgesia was not an independent factor associated with an increase of severe maternal outcome (Maternal Near Miss + Maternal Death). Conclusions: The overall use of analgesia for vaginal delivery is low but women with SMM are more likely to receive analgesia during labor. Social conditions are closely linked with the likelihood of having analgesia during delivery and such a procedure is not associated with increased adverse maternal outcomes. Expanding the availability of analgesia in different levels of care should be a concern worldwide.
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