BACKGROUND: The satisfaction of our patients with the intrapartum analgesia and differences between labour with and without epidural analgesia (EDA) were analysed retrospectively. PATIENTS AND METHODS: In March 2004 questionnaires were sent to all women who gave birth between 1 January 2003 and 30 June 2003 at the University Hospital of Zurich. RESULTS: 45.5% of the questionnaires were returned. The EDA-rate reached 47.3%. Women with EDA had a significant longer delivery and the vacuum was more often used (p < 0.001 each). There was no difference between births with or without EDA concerning Apgar- and pH-scores from the umbilical artery. Several factors had an impact on satisfaction: higher age (> 30 years) (p = 0.012), the feeling that this labour was less painful than the previous (p = 0.010), the ability to control labour pain (p = 0.002), to influence drug therapy of pain (p < 0.001). CONCLUSION: Our results show, that the individual care and involvement of women in the birth process and pain therapy had a greater influence on satisfaction with birth than the type of analgesia.