Sometimes I really scare the crap out of myself. I need to stop reading so much! This time I decided to be really smart and start reading into different pain relief options during labour. I was lying in bed about to go to sleep before I started reading which wasn’t the smartest idea!
Anyway…I learnt a lot but it also left me pretty confused. I’m not going to lie, I was always for having an epidural – get the needle into me so I won’t feel anything, have baby and be blissfully happy with as little pain as possible, but after reading about everything I’m not so sure. Am I silly?
Basically I read through the different types of pain relief that the Ulster Hospital offer:
Entonox – more commonly known as gas and air, is a colourless, odourless gas made up of half oxygen and half nitrous oxide. It’s the most popular pain relief for women as it can be taken easily through a mouthpiece and wears off quite quickly once the mouth piece is removed.
Side Effects – There are no harmful side effects for you or the baby, but it can make you feel light-headed. Some women also find that it makes them feel sick, sleepy or unable to concentrate. If this happens, you can stop using it.
Remifentanil Drip – a drip is inserted into a vein in your arm or hand and attached to a patient-controlled pump. You press the button on the pump and a small dose of remifentanil is given directly into your vein providing pain relief on demand, reducing the severity of labour pain. This starts working within five minutes of the drip being connected. You need to press the button every time you have a contraction because each dose of remifentanil wears off within a few minutes.
Side Effects – this one doesn’t sound the one for me as it seems like you are drunk. Effects include nausea, vomiting and itching, drowsiness and dizziness, slow breathing with one in two women needing extra oxygen to breathe, having to stop using remifentanil due to low oxygen levels or excessive sleepiness.
Epidural – A needle is used, with local anaesthetic to insert a fine plastic tube between the bones in your back. The anaesthetic infusion gives continuous pain relief. However, you can press a button to give an extra dose if needed. It is important that you sit still while the epidural is being inserted and let the anaesthetist know if you are having a contraction. It usually takes 20 minutes to set up and 20 minutes to work.
Side Effects – itching and shivering, drop in blood pressure, severe headache, temporary nerve damage causing a numb patch or leg weakness, long term headaches.
To be honest, I think I will try and stick with gas and air as long as I can and if I feel I need more pain relief (which I probably will) I will go with an epidural. I’m sure by the time it comes to it, I won’t really care about a needle going into my back!!
I’d love to hear about your pain relief experiences and which you would recommend for me!!