By: 18 June 2012

The Obstetric Anaesthetists’ Association (OAA) at its annual national conference this week is launching a new Smartphone and tablet application for mothers-to-be in 35 different languages. This new development means that women and their partners are better able to access information in an easy-to-understand form during the antenatal period or whilst in labour. This will be possible either on their own devices or on tablets shown to them by a midwife, even where there is no internet connection.

The 35 languages on the app range from Urdu, Hindi, Bengali, Somali, Arabic, Mandarin to French, Punjabi, Polish, Gujarati, and Cantonese. A unique ‘useful phrases’ section carries phonetic spelling of important phrases in English and the language in question, allowing doctors, midwives and patients to communicate better.

More than 20% of women delivering in the UK originate from overseas, and many do not speak English. The most recent Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths ( emphasises the importance of good communication with women and their partners and the need for translation services, but provision of interpreters within the NHS is expensive and often impossible outside normal working hours or in emergency situations where minutes count.

The new app means that non-English speakers will be able to understand what pain relief and anaesthesia options are available to them in labour, and to compare the risks and benefits.

Dr David Bogod, OAA President, said: “This is an excellent example of the use of patient-friendly technology to improve the quality and safety of our maternity services, especially for the increasing number of our service users who do not speak English and who often come from communities with poor access to NHS care.”

The apps are based on widely used information cards and leaflets, covering pain relief options in labour and anaesthesia for Caesarean section that are available on the OAA website (via a direct link and include: Pain Relief in Labour; Your Anaesthetic for Caesarean Section; Epidural Information Card; High Body Mass Index and more recently a Headache after Epidural leaflet and a Regional Anaesthesia for Unplanned Caesarean Section card.

The app can be found (by searching “OAA pain relief”) at the AppStore for iPhone or iPad or at GooglePlay (the new name for Android Market) for Android devices. Alternatively, users can follow the link for smart devices at:

For those who do not wish to download the app containing all translations, the individual language versions can still be downloaded separately at There is also a multilingual poster advertising the translations, which can be placed in antenatal clinics or can be inserted as a flyer in women’s hand-held notes.