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Pain-relief-in-labour

Pain Relief in Labour: Pethidine

The most commonly used injected analgesic during labour is the narcotic pethidine, which is similar to morphine.

It works by dulling the sensation of pain, and also relaxes you and makes you feel sleepy/dreamy, which some women find helps to reduce pain.

Pethidine can be injected into the muscle of your thighs or buttocks during first-stage labour (although not close to the second stage of labour as it can make the baby drowsy at birth, and can affect your ability to push your baby out) Also it usually takes effect within 20 minutes and lasts for two to four hours.

The use of pethidine, however, is becoming less popular since it has a number of drawbacks. Pethidine may make labour difficult if its effects have not worn off when you need to push. It can make you feel light-headed, forgetful and unaware of your delivery (which some women welcome), as well as disorientated, out of control and woozy. Additionally, pethidine can cause nausea or vomiting, although it can be given with another drug, an anti-emetic, to stop you feeling or being sick.

Occasionally, some women also experience hallucinations with pethidine. Furthermore, it can cause respiratory problems in babies shortly after birth, especially in premature babies. This is because the drug crosses the placenta, making the baby also woozy, and thus less likely to breathe vigorously at birth. However, if it does affect your baby’s breathing, an antidote will be given to your baby when he/she is born. Also, pethidine can make your baby less responsive and sleepy over the first few days after birth, which will not help if you want to breast-feed.

For these reasons, if strong analgesia is required to take away all the pain until delivery, an epidural is usually preferred.


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