Pain relief and Support in Labour

You may find it helpful to prepare for the experience of labour by thinking about different methods to help you manage it. 
How you cope in labour can be affected by several factors. You do not always have to have drugs to get some relief from pain and there are many options that might help you manage the pain and get you safely through childbirth. These include: who is with you at the time, whether they stay with you throughout your labour, the positions you can adopt and your general feeling of comfort and relaxation, the use of beds, chairs and cushions, the use of water in conventional baths or a birth pool and finally the use of medicines or therapies. All these can help to reduce the amount of pain you feel and help you to cope with your contractions in labour.

Your choices

How you manage in labour is your choice.  Talk to your midwife and to your birth companion about the support that you would like to receive during labour and which options are available for pain relief.  You may find it useful to write down your choices in your birth plan so that everyone knows before hand what you want, but remember that you can also change your mind during labour, many women find the experience different to what they expected. 


Having someone familiar with you when you go into labour should help you to be yourself and not worry about presenting a ‘brave face’ to strangers. This means you can focus on your needs without being concerned about what people will think of you or being overly worried about how your pain might be affecting them.  Recent research has identified that when women have support in labour, especially when this is from familiar people and lasts throughout labour, it has quite an important effect on whether women need pain relief in the form of drugs. ‘Support people’ can also be women who have been trained to just ‘be there’ for you while you are in labour (Doulas). In this case, it is thought the continued presence of another woman has a beneficial effect on labour and women are more likely to have a normal birth with fewer complications for the baby. These benefits appear to continue into the
longer-term by improving the rate of breastfeeding and overall adaptation to motherhood.


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