Preparing for Birth Australian Edition Partial Preview - Page 16
Alternative and Medical Options
Many effective comfort measures are available during labour by simply using everyday tools and
techniques, but there are additional options that require advance planning, trained personnel, or
A Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation Acupuncture involves inserting needles under
(TENS) unit is a hand-held device connected
the skin at specific points on the body to release
to pads (surface electrodes) placed on the
endorphins. Acupressure uses the same points
middle or lower back during labour. It sends
applying steady pressure. Acupuncture should
electrical impulses that stimulate nerves, reduce be done only by a trained professional. You
pain sensations and can increase endorphins. or your partner may use acupressure, but it is
Because it uses electric impulses, a TENS
important to learn the key pain relief pressure
cannot be used with water and may interfere
points for your body ahead of time.
with electronic fetal monitors. Anyone can buy
and use a TENS unit, but advance education
or training is beneficial. Availability varies in
These options are available only while under
medical care. For more details on medical
options, see pages 18-20.
Sterile water injections involve injecting sterile
water just below the skin in four locations on the
lower back. They can relieve back pain without
side effects and can be repeated. They are
usually more effective in early labour.
Nitrous oxide is inhaled during a contraction
using a mask or mouth piece. Its effects are
almost immediate and its use is completely
patient-controlled. Nitrous oxide is considered
to be safe and effective, although some women
report dizziness or nausea.
Opioids are a class of drugs that are used to
reduce pain and relax muscles. In labour, they
are given through an IV or injection.
The use of essential oils, herbs, tinctures or
other homeopathic products for comfort
may be an option, but they are most
appropriate if you are experienced
with and use homeopathic products
regularly. Because of the risk of a
reaction, it is unwise to introduce them for
the first time during labour.
An epidural (also called PCEA) is given by
inserting a small tube (catheter) into the
epidural space around the spinal cord.
Medication to numb the lower half of the body
is then given continuously through the catheter.