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Newborn babyNewborn baby

Pain relief options

Giving birth can be painful and you may want some pain relief. It’s important to know what pain relief options are available to you so that you can make the right choice for you.    

​Pain relief method How it worksSide-effects / complicationsAvailable for
​Hypnobirthing​Hypnobirthing is a method of pain management that can be used during labour and birth. It involves using a mixture of visualisation, relaxation and deep breathing techniques.There are no known side effects for either you or your baby​Hospital births

Home births

​TENS machine

​A TENS machine is a small, battery operated device that has leads connected to sticky pads called electrodes.

The machine sends small electric impulses to the area where you've placed the electrodes. This can help relieve pain and relax muscles

​There are no known side effects for either you or your baby




​Hospital births

Home births

​Birth pool​A birth pool is a specially designed vessel containing water for women to immerse themselves in for pain relief during labour. Giving birth in water can be a more relaxed and less painful experience. ​There are no known side effects for either you or your baby​Hospital births

Home births

​Gas and air

​This is a mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide gas that you breathe in through a mask or mouthpiece. It doesn't remove all the pain but may help to reduce it


​There are no harmful side effect for you or the baby but you might feel:

  • light-headed
  • sick, sleepy or unable to concentrate
  • dry mouth

​Hospital births

Home births



​Pethidine injections

Pethidine is a drug that's injected into your thigh or buttock to relieve paid. It can also help you relax




​Side of effects to be aware of include:

  • it might make you feel spaced out and sick
  • if the injection is given too close to delivery, it can affect your baby's breathing
  • it can interfere with the baby's first feed

​Hospital births





Epidural






An epidural is an injection given in your back to stop you feeling pain in part of your body





Epidurals are usually safe but there's a small risk of side effects and complications including:

  • low blood pressure
  • temporary loss of bladder control
  • itchy skin
  • feeling sick
  • nerve damage

Hospital births





Pain relief options on the NHS website

TENS machines on the NHS website

Epidurals on the NHS website

Other methods of managing pain

Pain can be easier to manage if you're feeling relaxed. Methods that help with relaxation include:

  • learning how to relax, stay calm, and breathe deeply (hypnobirthing can help with this)
  • trying to keep moving – your position can make a difference, so try kneeling, walking around, or rocking backwards and forwards
  • bringing a partner, friend or relative to support you during labour, but don't worry if you don't have one – your midwife will give you all the support you need
  • asking your partner to massage you
  • having a bath
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