Silent Labour: Expressions and management of labour pain in Fort Portal, Uganda.


Publication date



OsloMet - Oslo Metropolitan University

Document type


Master i International Social Welfare and Health Policy


Maternal health is being considered as a highly important international issue at least since the year 2000. That was when the UN’s General Assembly implemented the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, with the aim of reducing maternal mortality. The highest rates of maternal mortality and morbidity are in the areas where most of the women don’t have access to health facilities for antenatal care, postnatal care and delivery (World Health Organization 2016). It is understood that those services are essential for increasing maternal health (Adam et al. 2005, Bale, Stoll, and Lucas 2003, Paxton et al. 2005, Campbell, Graham, and Lancet Maternal Survival Series steering group 2006, Piane 2008). The phenomenon of women not attending to a health facility and getting skilled health care for delivery can be explained in many ways: transportation issues, not enough offer, or pressure from a next of kin (Bohren et al. 2014). Another of the factors identified by researchers for non-attendance of mothers at health facilities is the decision making of the mother herself. That can be related to a perception of quality of care, disrespect or abuse (Bowser and Hill 2010). Labour pains are an important part of becoming a mother, conflicting perceptions of those between mother and health worker, or poor management, could affect the whole experience of delivery and the future decision of looking for skilled maternal services. To give women the type of care they will accept is important to understand their demands. Based on this perspective, the present study has the intention to explore the experiences and management of labour pain, in the context of Fort Portal, Uganda. The research was developed in connection with the WeCare program from the British charity Knowledge for Change. The data collection was made with semi-structured open-ended interviews with Ugandan mothers and health workers and with foreign volunteers in maternities of the municipality. A thematic analysis was then made identifying important aspects around the topic. In the end, this study intends to contribute for a better understanding of the matters of motherhood, pain in labour and the use of pain relief in the eyes of the women from Fort Portal, Uganda.




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