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Robin Elise Weiss, LCCE

More Studies Needed on Sterile Water Injections

By November 26, 2012

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Mom on Hands and Knees with Birth Ball

One non-drug methods of dealing with back labor that has been becoming more popular because of the perceived lack of risks, due to the fact that is does not contain medications that could be passed along to baby, are sterile water injections. These are four small injections of sterile water placed on the lower back, just under the skin during labor.

When I have seen this done, on multiple occasions in many settings, I see moms reporting that it really stings for a minute and then not only does the stingy go away, but the pain in the lower back goes away. This allows mom to deal with only the contractions and not the added pain of the back ache.

The Cochrane Database finally took a look at what the research is out there for the Sterile Water Injections and found, well, not much of anything. I assumed that they would call for more studies, but they really didn't find much of anything, good or bad. Anyone up for a trial of sterile papule injections at your facility or practice?

What's your experience been with this technique?


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Derry S, Straube S, Moore RA, Hancock H, Collins SL. Intracutaneous or subcutaneous sterile water injection compared with blinded controls for pain management in labour. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD009107. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD009107.pub2

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November 27, 2012 at 7:18 am
(1) Tanya says:

Hi Robin,
Interesting you should post this now, as I am also very interested in this method of pain relief in labour. As luck would have it, I know of a major new trial underway in Australia called The ICARIS Trial which is being conducted by the Midwifery research unit, a collaboration between The Mater Medical Research Institute and The Australian Catholic University and is being funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). The Trial is looking at the impact of Caesarean Section rates following injections of sterile water and will involve 1866 women presenting to the birth suites of 6 hospitals across New South Wales and Queensland. The study is a randomised, double blind trial. The ICARIS Trial will be the first clinical trial large enough to determine if the use of SWI will assist in the reduction of Caesarean Section rates. If you would like further information on the Trial you can contact nigel.lee@mater.org.au
Hope this information is interesting and useful!!
All the best,
Tanya Strusberg, LCCE

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