Pregnancy is a wonderful period of bonding between a mother and her unborn child. As the months pass, you feel your little one grow, see their little fingers and toes on a sonogram and wait with baited breath for their arrival. Women who have been through natural labour will relay their experiences of childbirth. While some of these stories might frighten you just weeks before you are due to deliver, you must remember that everyone’s experience is their own and tolerance to pain is different. Pain during labour is caused by contractions of the muscles of the uterus and by pressure on the cervix. This pain can be felt as strong cramping in the abdomen, groin and back.
Today, you have the option of experiencing painless labour. Opting for painless labour does not make you weak, by any means. It allows you to experience the wonder of childbirth without the pain and discomfort. This not only gives you the energy to push during labour, it also keeps you calm so that you can follow your doctor’s instructions while delivering.
There are plenty of options for painless delivery, including epidural analgesia and Entonox. There are pros and cons to each method that you can discuss with your doctor. The choice is ultimately up to you.
Lumbar epidural analgesia is the gold standard technique for pain control. It is both safe and effective for mother and baby. An epidural is performed by securing an epidural catheter and administering local anaesthetic which acts by blocking the sensory nerves (the nerves that feel pain). The drug’s effect can be felt within 15 minutes of administration, and 90 per cent of women feel no pain at all, except for a bit of pressure during contractions. A continuous infusion of drugs through the epidural catheter during labour will take care of ongoing pain. This is the same procedure that is followed if you have opted for or require a Cesarean section.
In some women, epidural can result in a few but rarely experienced side effects, like:
- Back pain and soreness
- Breathing difficulty
- Drop in blood pressure
There are other non-medication methods that can help you ease the pain of labour. Entanox is a well-established pain relieving gas mixture. It consists of two gases, 50% nitrous oxide and 50% oxygen. Besides this, there is acupuncture, warm baths, breathing techniques and yoga positions that can help you deal with the pain.