The Use of Injectable Pain Relief During Labour

The second stage of labour, where you are actively pushing along with your contractions to get your child delivered, can be painful. This is why a wealth of pain relieving options are provided for pregnant women to make the process as tolerable as possible. One of the options available is an intramuscular injection of a strong analgesic (pain relieving drug).

What is an intramuscular injection?

Intra-muscular (sometimes shortened to IM) just means ‘into the muscle’, and refers to any kind of injection where the needle is placed into a muscle for the administration of a particular drug. Intramuscular injections are not usually very painful, but can sting and cause some soreness once the medication has worn off. Intramuscular injections are usually applied to the large muscles of the thigh or the buttocks.

The injection will typically take 20 minutes to take effect, and usually contains a strong pain killer like diamorphine. This is a very effective method of relieving the pain of labour and childbirth, and can last as long as four hours after administration.

Are there any side effects to the intramuscular injection?

The IM injection can have some side effects of which you should be aware before deciding whether or not it is the right call for you. The injection can sometimes mean you can’t breastfeed after delivery as the drugs involved can make their way into your breast milk. This is a major consideration for some mothers.

The drugs in an IM injection can also leave you feeling dizzy or nauseous, and the medication can make it difficult to push as you approach the end of labour. Sometimes the drugs in IM injections can have an adverse effect on your baby’s breathing, which usually warrants immediate treatment.

When it comes to choosing IM injections you should get advice from your midwife or doctor about whether or not it is suitable for your pregnancy.

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