Pain Relief in Labour


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Unsurprisingly one of the big concerns many mothers have going into labour is about pain relief during what can be a very trying physical experience. Fortunately modern medicine can offer a number of extremely effective methods of pain relief that are also safe for you and your child.

What pain relief options are available to me during childbirth?

Two main factors influence which pain relief methods are available to you as you go into labour: your medical condition and where you have elected to give birth to your child.

If you suffer from allergies to particular kinds of medications or suffer from complicating medical conditions then your doctor will tell you what kinds of pain relief are off the table. Very fortunately there are so many diverse methods of pain relief in modern medicine, so even if you don’t have access to a few there will be many more available to you.

Certain types of pain relief are not available outside of hospital premises, for example, the epidural method (discussed in more detail later on in this article) won’t be available to you if you choose to have a home birth, or choose to give birth at a midwifery unit that isn’t part of a hospital facility.

What kinds of pain relief are there?

The different types of pain relief available to you in the UK are as follows:

  1. Entonox – a mix of both nitrous oxide and oxygen gases, Entonox is an easy to use method of pain relief which alleviates a lot of pain, but does not remove it entirely. Many women like this method because you are given control over its application yourself, and because all you have to do is inhale through a mouthpiece or mask to administer a dose.
  2. Intramuscular injection – this involves the application of a painkilling drug like diamorphine into the muscles of the buttocks and thigh by a trained medical professional.
  3. TENS – is the abbreviation for the mouthful transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, a method which is now known to be an effective method of pain relief during contractions in the later stages of labour. TENS is particularly useful if you are giving birth at home as you can acquire a machine yourself and receive training on how to use it from your midwife.
  4. Epidural Anaesthesia – is a very popular method of pain relief because of its effectiveness. Epidurals are a type of local anaesthetic, which means that they numb the area to which they are administered. Epidurals are generally used for women going through a long and painful labour.
  5. Alternative pain relief involves techniques like acupuncture, hypnosis, massage, and aromatherapy. While some women prefer opting for these methods, they are not known for providing the pain relief needed during labour. If you are considering one of these methods you should do so with care and consult your midwife or doctor about the validity of the method you have in mind.

As you can see you do have a number of different options when it comes to pain relief during childbirth. One of the best things you can do is find out more about them in the final months of your pregnancy, and your midwife and doctor will be excellent sources of information to this end.


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