Having a baby is hard work, and part of that work is getting through the pain. But don't panic. There are more ways than ever to manage it. All forms of pain relief are available at our Hospital including the use of Entonox and epidural. consultant obstetrician will explain the options to you before your delivery. If you wish, you can consult the obstetric anaesthetist in our team to discuss your options further.
Every woman experiences and tolerates pain differently. Sometimes, focused breathing is all that's needed to get through labour, while others need pain relief. Here are some common options:
These involve the use of drugs. Examples include: inhalation of entonox gas, Injection of opioids and epidural or combined spinal-epidural analgesia.
A gas mixture of 50 percent nitrous oxide in oxygen is administered via facemask. It should be inhaled as soon as contractions begin so that the maximal effect is achieved at the peak of contraction.
Advantages: Readily available, does not stay in the body system and is easily administered.
Disadvantages: May cause drowsiness, light-headedness and nausea.
The most common opioid for labour pain is pethidine. This is usually injected into the muscles of the thigh. Each injection takes about 15 minutes to take effect.
Advantages: Provides up to six hours of pain relief.
Disadvantages: Can only be administered in early labour (cervix is less than 4cm dilated) as it can cause drowsiness in the baby if administered too close to delivery.
These are the most reliable and effective ways to relieve labour pain. In EA, local anaesthetic drugs are administered through a small tube into the epidural space within the backbone canal. For a CSEA, an initial dose of drug is given into the spinal space, resulting in an even faster onset of pain relief.
Advantages: It is an effective analgesia with added advantage to help control blood pressure.
Disadvantages: Numbness of the legs and lower part of the body occur but the effect wears off. Nausea is common, but is easily managed with medications. Occasionally, some women might experience a spinal headache after delivery that normally resolves with medication.