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Managing pain in labour at birth centreBookmark this page

Birth centres offer a natural approach to birth, so there are fewer medical pain relief options than in hospital settings. It’s likely that the midwives will get you to focus on relaxation, moving around, using water and other forms of natural pain relief.

During pregnancy, talk to your midwife about what pain relief you can have. Find out about the benefits, side effects and possible complications, so that you know what to expect and can say what you prefer. You can also ask questions and get more information about pain relief at birth classes.

Non-medical or ‘natural’ pain relief options might include:

  • meditation, breathing and relaxation techniques
  • heat packs
  • massage
  • water (hot shower or bath)
  • walking
  • transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
  • hypnotherapy, Reiki or acupressure.

Medical pain relief options might include:

  • nitrous oxide
  • morphine
  • pethidine
  • fentanyl.

Your pain relief options will depend on what you want, what you need, your stage of labour and other health considerations for you and baby. You might need to be open to suggestions from the people caring for you.

If you need an epidural or other birth interventions, you’re likely to be transferred to a hospital birthing suite. If you need a caesarean, you’ll be transferred to a hospital operating theatre.

After the birth, your pain relief options will vary. If you plan to breastfeed, check with your doctor or midwife that any pain relief medication you’re using is safe for baby too.

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