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PAIN RELIEF IN LABOUR
Though labour is a normal physiological process,
it is associated with some amount of pain. Pain is
a very subjective phenomena and dependent on the individual.
It depends on many factors like the person’s physical
build, her emotional status, her mental outlook, associated
and coincidental problems etc. Since there are
so many factors that influences pain perception, pain
relief can be achieved by changing some or all these
Labour analgesia was first practiced way back in 1847
when chloroform was used by a Scottish physician called
James Simpson. The only problem was that the woman
woke up 3 days after the delivery and refused to believe
that she had delivered.Later on prominent people like
Queen Victoria also did experience “Painless Labour”.
During that time it was believed that to opt for painless
labour was immoral. The justification was that labour
pain was punishment to the woman for Eve’s indiscretion
in Eden. But this is a thing of the past and
more and more people are going in for pain relief
during labour by either medications or other forms
common methods of pain relief are:
child birth (Lamaze) including relaxation techniques,
breathing exercises etc.
(transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation).
therapy like massage, counter pressure, hot / cold
compresses, light stroking.
dermal injections of sterile water.
Also called obstetric
analgesia and anaesthesia. Various methods by
which labour analgesia is induced are:
muscular (in the buttocks / arms) injections
or intravenous injection (in a drip form or
through an IV line) of analgesics and sedatives.
kinds of sedatives and analgesics are available.
All sedatives and analgesics have some side
effects on the mother and child. Hence the
ones which are most safe and with least side
effects will be chosen by your doctors.
(gases) agents like Nitrous oxide can also
be used but are not so popular now days.
anaesthetics are given during episiotomy
reduce the pain. The same agents can be given
to block the nerve supply to the cervix (paracervical
block) and the vagina / vulva (pudendal block).
and spinal anaesthesia: This type of medication
is by far the most popular or commonly followed
method. Both are nearly similar but Epidural
is preferred for a variety of technical reasons.
Epidural anesthesia / analgesia, a local anaesthetic
agent is injected inside the vertebral column
in the region of the lower back. This reduces
the backache and abdominal pain during labour.
The doctor may inject the local anaesthetic
by a special needle (single shot EA) or more
preferably, pass a thin plastic tube into
the vertebral column through the needle. The
needle is removed and the plastic tube kept
Local anaesthetic agent is injected
through this plastic tube at periodic intervals
depending upon the need of the patient – no
matter how long the labour. The catheter is
kept for some time after delivery and then
This can also be used to give anaesthesia
during Caesarean section.
For further details regarding the same,
it is best to approach your doctor who can
then manage a meeting with the hospital anesthetist,
so that all your doubts regarding the technique
can be cleared.
childbirth teaches you ways to use breathing and
relaxation techniques to lessen discomfort and
It also involves psycho-prophylaxis. It
needs your active involvement along with that
of your spouse or labour partner.
PREPARTION PROGRAMMES AND CLASSES are now-a-days
coming up every where and one can enroll at any
one of these recognised classes.
this method (also called the LAMAZE method), the
expectant couple is trained and educated about
labour. They are taught that labour is a physiological
(natural) process and a positive mental outlook
towards pregnancy and labour is developed.
Fernand Lamaze was a French obstetrician who realized
the importance of psycho-prophylaxis and preparing
women for childbirth. He had observed the same
in Russian women. He modified the techniques to
what is presently called “Lamaze Method”. It is
based, primarily, on the principles of conditioned
reflex (remember the Russian scientist Pavlov!)
mainly consists of:
the fear – tension – pain cycle
(first discovered by Dr. Grantly Dic-Read)
is done by preparing and educating the women regarding
childbirth, instilling a positive attitude towards
labour and thus removing the “fear of the Unknown”
this is added the positive effect of relaxing,
breathing techniques and other measures of pain
relief described in this section
by author Martha
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