Pain Relief During Labour Video

Obstetricians run through the various options for pain relief. The TENS machine, gas and air, pethidine and - the mother of all pain relief - the epidural. Also non medical options like mobilization and warm baths are explored.
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Dr. Maggie Blot: The first thing is to make sure that you're informed, it's entirely important to go along to some sort of childbirth preparation class so that you understand what's happening with you. Have somebody with you in labor that you trust and feel confident with to act as your supporter. For actual pain relief there are three main types. Dr. Zoe Penn: You can use a TENS machine. This involves putting little tiny sticky pads on the back where the nerve fibers come from the spine around the body and this you give tiny-tiny little tingling electric shocks into these nerve fibers and this helps block the pain of labor. Dr. Maggie Blot: So you press the button for the TENS machine and the contraction starts, and that will help you through the first part of labor. The advantage of that is that you can have it at home with you. You could start using it at home and it helps you cope very well with the early stages of labor. Dr. Zoe Penn: Then in labor itself you can use gas and air, otherwise called Entonox, laughing gas which gives women a lot of relief. It doesn't take the pain away completely, but it does give very good levels of pain relief. And some women go all the way through their labors just using gas and air. Imogen Adamson: My second two pregnancies I had gas and air, and I found that absolutely superb. Some people find it makes a bit sick. Dr. Zoe Penn: There are few people who would be advised not to have it, those with particularly serious chest complaints and so on. But mostly it's very well-tolerated. Some women feel a bit sick on it, and some people, it really is a little bit like having a double gin on an empty stomach. It makes you feel a bit heady and a bit woozy, and there are some women who don't like that feeling. Dr. Pat O'Brien: The down side of entonox or gas and air is that if the labor is long and it's used for quite a long time it can make your mouth very dry and sometimes make the woman feel a bit nauseous and then sick. So it's good if the labor is going sort of reasonably quickly and smoothly but after a while it can become a bit of a drag. Dr. Zoe Penn: Some women use Pethidine. This is an injection that can be given in labor. I have to say people don't use this so much anymore. It does get through the placenta to the baby and can sometimes slow down the baby's breathing at delivery. So it's not very popular these days. Dr. Jenny Higham: And beyond that there is the epidural which is the Rolls Royce of pain relief when it works and it nearly does work. Dr. Zoe Penn: This is where a needle is put in the back and some local anesthetic is put into the space around the spine and this numbs all the pain from the waist downwards. Dr. Pat O'Brien: An epidural certainly does prolong the labor a little so for example the first stage of labor that's the stage where you're waiting for the cervix to open up to full dilatation. Normally takes about ten hours. With an epidural that's prolonged by about half-an-hour. Then some people would say, well, if you're pain free for all of that time that's a small price to pay. Dr. Maggie Blot: If you come in hospital and you're three centimeters dilated and you're not coping with the pain, you're finding the pain really difficult then probably the first baby in epidural is what you're going to ask for. There are other ways of coping with the pain at an early stage of labor, mobilization and warm bath can help simple pain relieves, sometimes can help. But if that's not adequate then epidural is the best option. Dr. Jenny Higham: My recommendation as an obstetrician would be to adopt an open mind. You have never been in severe pain perhaps before in your life and you're not sure how you're going to cope with it. Natalie Taylor: I was very open-minded about pain relief. I wouldn't say no to certain things and yes to others. I had gas and air for probably first three days and then we went on to Pethidine and I also had an epidural. Imogen Adamson: Don't say I'm not go

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