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Epidural Rates by Country 2024

An epidural is a medical technique in which medication, most often an anaesthetic, is injected into the patient's lower back near the spinal cord. Epidurals are used frequently in some countries to help pregnant women endure the pain of childbirth, as well as in several additional medical circumstances. Epidurals are used in a significant percentage of the total number of births in the world each day.

France

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.

United States

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.

United Kingdom

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

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

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

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

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.

- Nulliparous women is a medical term that describes a female who has never given birth to a live baby.
- Multiparous women is a medical term that describes a female who has given birth one or more times before in the past.
- United Kingdom data is only from England

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Country
Epidural Rates
Multiparous
Nulliparous
Year
Belgium 63%82%2013
Canada57.8% 2016
China16.7% 2019
Denmark 17%40%2013
Finland 59%83%2013
Iceland 32%59%2013
Ireland 38%64%2013
Malta 15%40%2013
Netherlands 10%30%2013
Norway 23%51%2013
Sweden 19%45%2013
United Kingdom 11%19%2013
United States 64%79%2013
showing: 13 rows

What countries use epidurals the most?

Many countries have a high rate of epidural use, but pregnant women in Finland use it 89% of the time.

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