Pain relief during labor

Once labor begins, your body will make immediately natural painkillers (endorphins). Anxiety or tension impedes the release of endorphins. Therefore it is important to relax and be as quiet as possible during labor so natural pain relief can occur.
Would you like to have painkillers then you should always go to the hospital and you will be transferred to the gynaecologist. In all methods it’s required to make a heart movie of the baby which takes at least half an hour. Therefore it takes some time before you receive painkillers when you arrive at the hospital.


Pethidine is administered as an injection into your thigh. It is a morphine-like substance and works 2 to 4 hours which will give you pain relief. You may become drowsy and sleepy and about 1 in 3 women are satisfied with the effect. Nowadays pethidine will actually only be administered in the first stage of labor when the contractions are not very intense yet. It gives a lighting effect so that you can rest and sleep before the real delivery.


Remifentanil is a morphine-like substance administered through a drip in your arm attached to a pump. With a push of a button you can determine the amount you will receive. The pump is adjusted so that you can never get too much. Remifentanil works quickly, within a few minutes, and also disappeared from your bloodstream after a few minutes. It numbs the pain somewhat and you will relax, but you will always feel the contractions continue. Remifentanil can affect your breathing and the oxygen level in your blood. Therefore, you will be carefully monitored.


The epidural is a injection in the lower back with a combination of several analgesic Medicine. The anaesthetist will administer, under local anaesthesia, a needle in your spine. Inside the needle Is a thin, flexible tube which will be placed into your back. The needle goes out again, the tube remains in place. This tube will be used to administer analgesic medicine during the whole childbirth. Within 15 Minutes you will feel that the pain is much more bearable.
More information on the website of the Haga Hospital.

Advantages of an epidural

  • Most women feel little pain during the contractions
  • the epidural works better than an injection of pethidine or a pump with remifentanil
  • You will not be sleepy or drowsy from an epidural and makes you conscious during the childbirth

Disadvantages of an epidural

  • at 5-10% of women, the epidural does not work well and the epidural should sometimes be placed again
  • a greater chance of giving birth ends with an assisted delivery (vacuum), or caesarian
  • you can have a very low blood pressure with the epidural which will result in an infusion to administer water
  • getting out of bed immediately is not possible because you have less or no feeling in your legs
  • you can have more problems with urination because you have less feeling by the anaesthetic when you urinate. That’s why you will get a catheter during delivery
  • the chance of fever during labor is higher. Because it is difficult to estimate where this fever comes from (can be infection or reaction of epidural) the child will be included in the children’s hospital getting antibiotics
  • Sometimes women can experience headache after the epidural. This is because the brain membrane is punctured causing leaking cerebrospinal fluid. This is treated with drugs

pain relief epidural hospital