Labour can be painful, so it’s important to learn about all the ways that you can relieve the pain. It’s also helpful for whoever is going to support you during the labour to know the different options, as well as how they can support you. Ask your midwife or doctor to explain what is available so you can decide what’s best for you. There are many ways of helping to relieve pain and discomfort during labour.
Keep moving. Your position can make a difference. Try kneeling, walking around or rocking backwards and forwards. We have both mats and birthing balls available. Ask if you can have a bath or use our birthing pool. If you decide to use the pool the water it will be kept at a comfortable temperature, but won’t be above 37 degrees. Ask your partner to massage you (although you may find you don’t want to be touched)
TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. You can hire your own machine. TENS has not be shown to be so effective during the active phase of labour (when the contractions get longer, stronger and more frequent).It’s probably most effective in the early stages when many women experience low back pain.
Gas and Air (Entonox). This is a mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide. Gas and air won’t remove all the pain but it can help to reduce it and make it more bearable. Your midwife will show you how to use it. Another form of pain relief is an intramuscular injection (into a muscle) of a drug, such as Pethidine. This can help you to relax, which can lessen the pain.
An Epidural is a special type of local anaesthetic. It numbs the nerves that carry the pain from the birth canal to the brain. For most women, an epidural gives complete pain relief. It can be very helpful for women who are having a long and/or particularly painful labour, or who are becoming very distressed.
All women are different and a method of pain relief may work well for some and not for others. It is best to keep an open mind if something doesn’t suit you and is not giving the relief you need, try something else.
Please discuss the different methods of pain relief with your Midwife, Doctor or Anaesthetist.
Pain Relief at Home
When women have a baby they may want pain relief when they go home and we advise them to buy it in advance and have it ready at home.
The most commonly used pain relief is paracetamol or ibuprofen.