There are many forms of pain relief out there to relieve or take the edge off labour pains. Here is a list of the drugs available to expectant mothers...
Self help - There are many different techniques that you can use to help yourself during labour. Using relaxation and breathing techniques can help you to remain calm and relaxed. Playing your favourite music, having your partner with you to support and massage you, even bringing in your own pillow and duvet can have a calming effect on you. Other mothers may choose aromatherapy, acupuncture, homeopathy, hypnosis, massage and reflexology.
Gas and Air - One of my personal favourites ;) gas and air is a combination of oxygen and nitrous oxide. you breathe it in through a mask or mouth piece which you hold and control yourself (although if you getting a bit eager on it the midwives may advise you to take a short break (spoil sports!) Although gas and air doesn't remove all of the pain it helps by reducing it and making it easier to bear. The gas takes effect almost immediately, and there are no harmful side effects for you or your baby. It can however make you feel slightly light headed, sick or sleepy.
Pethidine - Pethidine is given in the form of an injection either in your behind or your thigh. It takes about 20 minutes to work and the effects last between two and four hours. It helps you to relax and some women find this lessens the pain. However it can make you feel woozy, sick and forgetful. if it hasn't worn off by the time you need to push it can make this difficult.
Epidural - An epidural is a type of local anaesthetic. It numbs the nerves which carry the pain signals from the birth canal to the brain. It gives you complete pain relief. It is given by an anaesthetist into your spine. it takes about fifteen to thirty minutes to set up and to take effect. Disadvantages of the epidural include difficulty passing water, you may not be able to get out of bed for several hours after, your legs may feel heavy, you will need a drip on your arm to give you fluids, you will feel little or no contractions which can make pushing at the right time difficult.
Once I was admitted onto the ward I was offered Pethidine which I gratefully accepted. This was injected into my thigh muscle (ouch, it wasn't a nice feeling, and is made worse if you're tense) This, from what I can remember took effect pretty quickly and by god I wasn't expecting it. I can only describe it as an out of body experience, in my view it did not relieve the slightest bit of pain and I would not have it again.
I also opted for gas and air..................ah bliss mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm that's all I'll say on that one!
I had an epidural as well. I can only describe my anaesthetist as a person who just jabs away until she eventually finds the right place. It was not a pleasant experience! During labour I could top up the epidural myself when I felt it was wearing off. The epidural completely numbed me and I could not feel a single contraction, delivery of my baby was not helped by the midwife who no matter how many countless times I asked her to tell me when I was having contractions so I knew when to push, didn't. Therefore (in my opinion) I pushed when I was not having a contraction which led me to tear (second degree lacerations and over an hours worth of stitching after labour - with no pain relief).
I am currently 3 months pregnant and to this day I still have back aches and pains to which I put down to the inexperience of the needle stab happy anaesthetist. However, I would have to say that I would have another epidural as I didn't experience any pain during labour. I take my hat off to those women who go completely natural.
What are your thoughts on pain relief? have you had a good or bad experience?