What are my options to reduce pain during childbirth?Pregnancy Gynaecology Women's Health
I've heard that giving birth is very painful. What are my anesthesia options during delivery in Singapore?
Different people have different levels of pain thresholds. Some women are able to go through natural childbirth without asking for any form of pain relief. The majority of women however will ask for something to relieve their discomfort.
Entonox (Nitrous oxide)
Entonox (laughing gas) is a colourless, odourless gas made up of half oxygen and half nitrous oxide. It is the mildest form of "pain relief". It has a rapid onset and is safe for you and your baby. 
Pethidine, known as Demerol
If entonox doesn't do the trick then there is the option of pethidine injections. The intramuscular pethidine injection is administered into your thigh or buttock and takes 20 mins to work. The analgesic effect lasts for up to 4 hours so it is usually not recommended if you are close to delivering as its effects (side effects include nausea, vomiting, drowsiness) may pass over to the baby and the baby may become drowsy after birth.
Finally there is the epidural which involves infiltration of local anaesthesia via a thin tube into the epidural space in the lumbar region. This procedure is performed by an anaesthetist. Its advantage is that it takes 10-15 minutes to offer complete pain relief and the analgesic effects can be topped up so it is very good for long labours and can be used for instrumental deliveries and emergency Cesarean sections if natural birth is not possible in the end. Epidurals can cause a slight drop in maternal blood pressure and the fetal heart rate will need to continuously monitored during labour.
There are other alternative non-medical forms of pain relief like acupuncture, aromatherapy, homeopathy, hypnobirthing, massage and reflexology. They may work for some patients, but for the majority of women, most of these techniques may not provide effective pain relief and it is best that you discuss this with your gynaecologist before you go into labour.
- Parsa P, Saeedzadeh N, Roshanaei G, Shobeiri F, Hakemzadeh F. The Effect of Entonox on Labour Pain Relief among Nulliparous Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Clin Diagn Res. 2017;11(3):QC08-QC11.
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