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Pain relief choices for giving birth

Posted Sep 30 2008 11:12am

It’s good to know what your options are and what effect they will have, although everyone is different and everyone has different pain thresholds.There are probably plenty of funny stories and horror stories attached to all different methods of pain relief, after weighing up the pros and cons you can decide which if any is for you.

Gas and air

Most of us have heard of gas and air even if it is your first pregnancy, it is medically known as Entonox.

·        This is used by inhaling through a mask or mouth piece during your contractions and will take the edge off the pain.

·        It only works while you are using it, therefore you are in control.

·        There are no effects on the baby and you can use other methods of pain relief later into your labour should you feel you need to.

·        The only negative of using gas and air is that in some women it can cause nausea.

Pethadine or diamorphine

These are given usually by the mid-wife as an injection and will offer pain relief but will not take away the pain completely so you’ll still feel your contractions but without the intensity.

·        Due to having a sedative effect they will help you to relax and even to get some sleep.

·        You will still be able to move about, however they can make you feel high, nauseas or both.

·        They can make your baby sleepy if the drug passes into your placenta which can prolong the birth.

Epidural

An epidural would be administered by an anaesthetist who would first give you a local anaesthetic into your back to numb you, followed by the epidural. You will also need to have a catheter fitted.

·        You will feel no pain as an epidural completely numbs you.

·        Once administered it can be topped up should your labour be a long one, which can be quite likely as you will not have any sensation of the contractions or when you should push. This can also result in the need for an assisted delivery by ventouse or forceps.

·        As you are numb you will not be able to move around.

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