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Pain Relief In Labour & Birth - What are my options?

Do you know what methods of pain relief you can accept or be offered in labour? It’s always worth looking over the pros and the cons of each method and making a choice that way. Do the pros outweigh the cons? Did you realise that there was a con to that method?

Here are some of the main pain relief options you have when you are in labour


I say birth pool but water in general, so birth pool, bath or even shower


  1. You can get in and out whenever you want

  2. Less need for other pain relief methods

  3. Known to shorter labour time

  4. Can make you feel more comfortable and relaxed


  1. Birth pools can take a while to fill up so if your labour is quick you may not get time to use it

  2. Not all hospitals have one available

  3. Occasionally contractions can slow


Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation - TENS machines work by stimulating the body to produce more of its own natural painkillers, endorphins. It also reduces the number of pain signals sent to the brain.


  1. You can control it

  2. No affect on the baby

  3. Can be used with other pain relief methods

  4. Can be used straight away in any birth setting


  1. Can't be used with water

  2. Some people don't like the sensation

  3. For it to have full affect it needs to be used as soon as possible


Also known as Entonox, this is a mix of oxygen and nitrous oxide gas that you inhale


  1. It works quickly

  2. Can be used and stopped at any time

  3. You are in control

  4. Doesn't affect the baby

  5. Can be used with other forms of pain relief

  6. Can be used in any birth setting


  1. It doesn't get rid of all the pain, it just takes the edge off (this could be a PRO for some)

  2. Can make you feel lightheaded or nauseous

  3. It might make your mouth dry so keep hydrated


This is an injection of a medicine called pethidine or Diamorphine, into your thigh or bum


  1. They can help you relax

  2. It may give you time to sleep

  3. It can help you manage your surges better


  1. It may affect your baby's breathing

  2. It can make you and your baby feel drowsy

  3. Can make you feel sick

  4. You can't use a birthing pool or bath for around 2 hours incase you fall asleep

  5. It can take a while to take effect

  6. It takes 2-4 hours to wear off


This is an injection of local anaesthetic in your back


  1. Will give you complete pain relief


  1. Depending on if its a 'Mobile' epidural, you wont be able to move as much

  2. Can cause low blood pressure, Loss of bladder control, headaches and itchy skin

  3. It can only be given in a hospital

  4. Increased chance of needing an assisted delivery

  5. 1 in 1000 can experience temporary nerve damage

Does knowing both sides change how you feel about where you want to give birth or what pain relief you are willing to accept?

Hope this helped!

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