Pain Relief in Labour
How painful is labour / child-birth?
What pain relief can you have in labour / child birth?
This is are the million dollar questions women always ask me during antenatal visits, and can be very difficult to answer! Unfortunately there is no generic answer to this and is very different for every woman. Many factors can influence this, particularly how your baby is positioned in your uterus and how big baby is relative to your pelvic area. The pain you may feel usually starts off mild, and gradually increases in frequency and intensity as you progress through labour and child birth.
If you are nervous about managing pain during your labour it is best to discuss with me your concerns and how you would like to manage the pain. There are many options and methods that can make your labour very bearable.
My recommendations for pain management usually begin with a conservative approach such remaining active during the first part of labour, sitting on a fit-ball, doing relaxation exercises and deep breathing, and even having a warm shower which can ease tension. Massages, heat packs, even a gentle walk can help take your mind off any pain. If these methods are not enough we can look at using medicines that can dull down, or even block pain that are safe for your baby to tolerate. Pain relievers include gas (nitrous), Panadol, Panadeine and Panadeine forte. If this doesn’t control the pain then a quick injection of morphine relieves the pain significantly and can be extremely helpful for many women during labour. The final approach would be using an epidural block which involves ainjection in the back which can completely remove all pain from the lower part of your body where you won’t feel any contractions.
Of course with all medicines there may be side effects. Morphine can cause nausea or vomiting, and make you feel sleepy. Also I don’t like to administer these too close to delivery as it can make the baby sleepy too, so I would weigh up the risks and timing before prescribing this for you. Epidural blocks can dampen down the sensation that helps you to recognise how to push your baby in the final stages of labour. If necessary (and only if necessary)I may to help bring your baby into the world using forceps or a kiwi (vacuum) cup. This is very safe, having been done by obstetricians the world over.
My aim is to always ensure you have a natural birth as possible and to listen and understand your needs. I can help you make the right decision for you and your baby. The safety of both of you is paramount.
Remember your birth journey is unique to you. Some women wish to have the full sensation of a natural birth with no pain relief; whilst others will wish to have an epidural from the outset. Neither approach is better or worse than the other. Neither woman should be judge on her decision.