Pethidine pain relief in labour
Pethidine can be used as an intramuscular injection into the thigh or bottom muscle. This can help you to relax, which can lessen the pain. It’s a synthetic version of morphine and can offer some pain relief for mums in labour, especially if it’s progressing slowly. It can reduce feelings of anxiety and may help a mum to relax and regain strength needed for later on. Some women feel dizzy and sick after taking Pethidine or even a little disorientated. It can also help postpone or avoid having an epidural.
Your midwife can give you Pethidine without consulting a doctor and will either inject it or give it to you via a tube, which you can control. They will usually give you an anti-sickness drug with it to stop any feelings of nausea that may occur. It will only be given during the first stage of labour and takes around 20 minutes to start working.
Pethidine can be given in home births and would have to be prescribed in advance by your GP.
Pethidine can slow down your labour in the early stages. It can also cross the placenta and make your baby drowsy. So, if you receive it shortly before giving birth, it can affect your baby’s breathing and feeding and make them less alert, which can make them less likely to initiate breastfeeding until the effects wear off. That’s why it shouldn’t be given if it is thought labour is less than 2 hours away. If it is and your baby is affected, they may need to have an injection to reverse the effects of the drug. But don’t worry about this too much as this is extremely rare.
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