Different Types of Pain Relief
Everybody experiences labour differently. The level of discomfort and challenge women experience during labour varies, and is influenced by factors such as our own health; our body; personal history; position of our baby; health of our baby; the work we have done to understand and prepare mentally for labour and birth; the support we receive from others.
This gives lots of opportunities to find ways to increase our ability to support and soothe a labouring woman. Making informed choices is an important part of the process.
The pain relief pathway has a number of steps:
- Self-help eg breathing, massage, movement, support from birth partner
- Water (bath or shower)
- TENs machines (hire)
- Entonox (gas and air)
- Pethidine/Meptid/Diamorphine (opiate injections)
- Epidural (only available on labour ward)
Find out more about each from this link, including a short video:
Some women choose to use methods such as acupuncture, aromatherapy, homeopathy or reflexology to help them through labour. Complimentary therapies are not available through the NHS. If you are interested in using complementary/alternative therapies have a chat with your midwife and make sure any practitioner/teacher that you hire is properly trained and experienced in supporting pregnancy and birth. For more information visit
Discuss your thoughts and wishes around pain relief with your midwife and birth partner. Check out the benefits and the consequences that each option has. Make informed decisions but keep an open mind – remember labour is like any other journey, we know our route but we don’t know exactly what will happen along the way. Write down your main preferences and wishes on your birth plan.
Try to remain open-minded, flexible, prepared to change plans as the journey unfolds, as this will help reduce fear and stress and increase oxytocin levels on birth day. Oxytocin, the love hormone, is a hormone that our body produces to help us feel safer, calmer and more able to work with our labour. Oxytocin helps labour birth, bonding and feeding. Calm, caring and kindness are part of our pain relief kit.
For pain relief during pregnancy and after the birth download our leaflet here: