Pain Relief in Labour

It's Your Decision !

Anaesthetist: Have you budgeted for an Anaesthetist? Although it is hoped that your labour will be short and relatively pain free, nature is not always so kind. An Anaesthetist is necessary if you need an epidural or Caesarean section. The best pain relief is the one which satisfies your requirements. What you choose should be based on: Where you started from How fast you are progressing, How long you have to go, How much you are willing to tolerate Understanding this, lets review the most common forms of pain relief.

Water: Hot showers are excellent for pain relief in labour. Combined with the spa, many women will get by without additional pain relief. Despite the recent drought, the benefits are impressive and I am happy for women to use the spa in the presence of ruptured membranes.

Gas: Nitrous Oxide is breathed in by mask or mouthpiece. It has a rapid onset and offset but can make women feel light headed or occasionally nauseated. Breathing on the gas is a little like going snorkelling. It takes work to breathe in the gas and so over a long period you can become tired from this exertion. This gas is best used for short periods at the start or near the end of labour.

An injection of Pethidine is usually combined with Maxolon to reduce any nausea which can result as a side effect. If the labour is progressing quickly, the 1 - 2 hours of relief it offers will often get you through to full dilation. In uncommon circumstances when Pethidine is given close to the time of delivery, it can cross the placenta and then depress the respiration of the baby. If an adult was to be given any narcotic in the absence of pain, their respiration would be depressed. Therefore a baby will have the same type of response. Fortunately we are always aware of this possibility and there is a drug called Narcan which instantly reverses this respiratory effect. It is very uncommon for the baby to need this injection.

This is considered the Rolls Royce of pain relief in labour. Please remember to allow about 1 hour between requesting this and it actually being in and working. Although there are some rare complications, it is considered to be very safe. Pethidine can be given as an injection into the leg. It takes about 20 minutes before an effect is felt and is especially good if labour is progressing quickly because its effect will wear off after about 90 minutes. Nitrous Oxide Gas is given via a mask or mouth-piece. Like going snorkelling, prolonged use will be tiring, but it is very useful at the start and end of labour. Showers and baths are also good for relieving the stress and anxiety of labour. I do not recommend water births. Raspberry Leaf tablets or tea are thought to make for an easier labour

Normal Saline:  This can be injected into the skin of the lower back in 4 places to minimise pain. Its effect relates to the Gate theory of pain.