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 medical management. TENS Units Acupuncture/Acupressure 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 different Preview birth settings. Medical Options 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. 48 Comfort Measures