Easing & Soothing Labour Pain

There is a purpose to the pain:

Every contraction brings you one step closer to the birth of your baby. Whether or not you opt for pain relief depends on your ability to deal with pain. The decision is yours but before you decide, you need to know what your options are and how they work.


This is an injection into your back using a hollow needle with a curved tip. A fine tube is passed through the needle and the needle is later removed. The anaesthetist then injects a local anaesthetic, and often a narcotic drug as well, into the tube to numb the nerves in the lower body. The dose of the local anaesthetic must be regulated properly so that its effects do not prolong the labour and make it more difficult to push the baby out. The epidural will give you almost total pain relief and allow you to stay alert so that you can enjoy your baby’s birth. It may make you shiver or feel cold and confine you in bed.


Useful Tip:

Keep very still when the epidural is being set up. Breathe in deeply through the nose and breathe out through the mouth. Inform the anaesthetist when your contraction is about to start so that he can stop the procedure while you are having the contraction.


A mixture of 50% of oxygen and 50% of nitrous oxide, Entonox is inhaled through a hand-held mask or mouthpiece, giving you more control. It is also packed with oxygen that is good for your baby and doesn’t stay in your system after delivery. However, it’s only a mild painkiller and may cause nausea and a dry mouth.

Useful Tip:

Breathe in Entonox deeply once a contraction is about to start as it takes about half a minute for it to reach its peak and exert its pain relieving effect.


This is a narcotic drug given by injection in the buttock or thigh, Pethidine is a painkiller as well as a sedative. Because it may cause nausea and vomiting, another drug is usually administered to reduce these side effects. It takes about 20 minutes for Pethidine to work and its effects differ among women – some feel relaxed and drowsy, others feel out of control and “high”. If given too close to the birth, it may make the baby drowsy.

Useful Tip:

Use breathing techniques to help you while waiting for the drug to work. Discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each pain relief option with your doctor before deciding which one is best for you.

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