Over the years, various options have been developed to offer pain relief. Let’s look deeper into what they are and their side effects.
Pain Relief Methods
There are various methods that can be used to offer pain relief during labour. These are:
- Medical Pain relief
- Non-medicinal pain relief
Medical Pain Relief
This is a 50/50 gas mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen. It offers short-term pain relief while more oxygen helps you remain conscious. it doesn’t completely take the pain away but it makes it bearable. Entonox is quickly eliminated from the body making quite safe for you and your unborn child. It’s a commonly preferred pain relief technique because you can self-administer it.
- You may feel sleepy and find it hard to concentrate
This is an injection on your thigh or buttocks, usually administered early during labour. It takes 20 minutes to take effect and can last up to 2-4hrs. pethidine allows you to move about as it does not have a numbing effect. Another benefit of pethidine is softening of the cervix to ease pushing at the last stage of labour.
- Can lead to breathing complications to your child if taken late during labour
- Can interfere with your child’s first feed
This is a local anaesthetic administered only by an anaesthetist. It helps numb the nerves that send pain impulses from your birth canal to your brain. Epidural takes anywhere from 5-30 minutes to take effect. An epidural is recommended at the first stage of labour, though it could be done at any stage.
- Headaches after epidural
- Backaches for a day or two
- Depending on local anaesthetic used, feel as though you have heavy legs
- Difficulties peeing
- Drop in blood pressure
- Prolonged second stage of labour
Non- Medical Pain Relief
This involves the following:
- Learning what to expect during labour
- Breathing techniques
- Changing positions
- Sterile water injections
- Heat packs
Read more about non-medical pain relief here.
Please note that development differs from one child to another.
Content intended for educational purposes only, and not a substitute for medical advice from your doctor.
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Last reviewed March 2019