What Are the Pain Relief Options During Labour?
NaturalMany women choose to birth without drugs or medications to ease their pain. There are many natural ways to be relieved of pain, including:
- Relaxation (imagery, breathing techniques)
- TENS machine
- Imagery can be initially guided by an instructor or an audio recording, recorded by you or someone else. It can be termed as ‘focused day dreaming’ and it is an effective form of relaxation.
- Breathing techniques (slower deeper breathing) can be practised through yoga, meditation or hypnosis. These techniques focus your mind and body to increase your own awareness and reduce distractions around you to promote your own health and wellbeing.
- Each of these have an overall calming effect and can be a distraction from the awareness of your contractions. It may be beneficial for you to blend some of these natural options or you can use each of them on their own.
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MedicationsEntonox (Gas and air)
- The ‘gas’ is nitrous oxide (sometimes called ‘laughing gas’ because it makes you very happy), and the ‘air’ is oxygen.
- Gas and air is safe for you and your baby if used for a short time.
- It takes 20-30 seconds for the gas and air to work.
- It is short acting – the effects are mostly gone 3-5 minutes after using it.
- It is effective in reducing pain.
- You can remain mobile and walk around, so long as someone is with you.
- The first 2 or 3 times you use the gas and air you may feel dizzy and nauseated. Don’t worry, this feeling will wear off.
- This involves an epidural catheter being placed into the epidural space in your back. An epidural numbs the lower half of your body so that you feel no pain.
- If you choose to have an epidural, ask your midwife if a low-dose epidural is available so that you can stay mobile (if possible).
- If that is not possible, try to avoid lying flat on your back, as this can affect the blood flow to your baby.
- May increase women’s satisfaction rates with the overall birth experience, but not necessarily with pain relief.
- Increases your risks of a forceps or suction cup type birth (instrumental birth).
- You will need a catheter to drain urine (a tube in your bladder).
- You may not be able to get up and walk for 6 hours after your baby’s birth.
- You will be in bed for the duration of labour (unless a walking epidural is available).
Drugs given by injectionDrugs (called opiates) can be injected into your hip or thigh muscle to decrease the sensation of pain. Sometimes, the drug used can make you feel sick or drowsy so an anti-sickness injection may be given at the same time to counteract this.Most drugs take about 20 minutes to work and last a few hours. They can interfere with breastfeeding in the first few days after birth as they make babies feel sleepy. Injections can be provided at planned home births and all other birthing centre and hospitals.
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