France has very high rates of epidurals. The epidural rate in France is about 80%. It has risen sharply over the last few decades, as it was only about 4% in 1981.
Many researchers attribute France's high rate of epidurals due to a high rate of recommendation by physicians in the country. Others attribute the high rate of epidurals to popular feminist attitudes towards women's health care.
The United States has one of the highest rates of epidural administration of any country, though the rate is not as high as it is in France. The rate of epidurals in the United States is 67%. This high rate reflects the widespread availability of the procedure in America. Also, American obstetricians are likely to recommend an epidural to the majority of their patients.
In the United Kingdom, the rate of epidurals is about 60%. While this is one of the highest rates in Europe, it has actually decreased in recent years. The rate of epidural administration reached a high of 70% in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Many researchers attribute the declining rate of epidurals in the United Kingdom to the influx of immigrants from countries where epidurals are rarely given.
Canada has a relatively low rate of epidural administration at around 40%. This is far below the rates in the neighboring United States and in other Commonwealth countries. Opinions differ about why the rate of epidurals in Canada is relatively low. Many researchers note that while First Nations people have a relatively high birthrate, they are relatively unlikely to get an epidural.
Sweden has a rate of epidural administration that is around the European average. About 66% of women who give birth in Sweden get an epidural. Swedish women almost always have access to this treatment, and Swedish physicians often recommend it.
Finland has the highest rate of the epidural rates by country. Roughly 89% of women giving birth in Finland get an epidural. This very high rate is attributed to the ubiquity of epidurals in Finland. Also, Finnish health guidelines recommend that physicians offer epidurals to most women.
Spain has a high rate of epidural administration. Roughly 70% of women in Spain choose to get an epidural before going into labor. As in Finland, Spanish health guidelines instruct doctors to offer women epidurals unless there is a valid medical reason not to do so.