Types of pain relief

Self help 
Learn about labour, learn how to relax and keep moving.

Water can help you to relax and can make the contractions seem less painful

Transcript For Water Birth Video

Gas and air (Entonox)
This is a mixture of oxygen and another gas called nitrous oxide.  Gas and air will not remove all the pain but it can help to reduce it and make it easier to bear.  There are no harmful side effects for you and your baby.

TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation.  TENS is most effective in the early stages of labour when the woman is experiencing lower back pain.  It allows you to move around and there’s no side effects for you or your baby.

Diamorphine is an injection and can take 20 minutes to work and there are side effects for you and your baby.

Pethidine can take up to 20 minutes to work and there are side effects for both you and your baby.

Remifentanyl (available in the Antrim site only)
Remifentanyl is a patient controlled analgesia (PCA) administered via a cannula, there are side effects for both you and your baby.

Epidural analgesia
An epidural is a special type of local anesthesia which numbs the nerves which carry pain from the birth canal to the brain.  There are some side effects to you and your baby.

Alternative methods of pain relief
Some women want to avoid the above methods of pain relief and choose acupuncture, aromatherapy, homeopathy, hypnosis, hypnobirthing, massage and reflexology.  It is important to discuss with you midwife or doctor and to let the hospital know beforehand.  Most hospitals do not offer them as an option for pain relief during labour.

For more information please refer to the PHA Pregnancy Book or speak to your midwife.

Don’t forget to phone the hospital or unit before leaving home and remember your maternity record.  When you arrive you will be triaged by the midwife to assess how far along your labour is.

If you are having a home birth, you and your midwife should have agreed what you will do when labour starts.

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