see also Emergency Childbirth
Psychoprophylactic techniques, especially breathing techniques, learnt at antenatal classes help many women to control pain during labour. In hospital, pain control options include nitrous oxide gas and air, a local anaesthetic if forceps delivery is necessary, or an epidural (injection of anaesthetic into the space around the lower part of the spinal cord). The danger with an epidural is that the mother may not be able to push properly, so the baby may not be delivered by forceps; the mother may also have a violent headache afterwards and low blood pressure. The drug Pethidine is sometimes given, but not immediately before birth as it can cause respiratory distress in the baby and make the mother very 'spaced out'.
Hypnotherapy and acupuncture deserve wider use in labour, but they are not widely available yet. Homeopathic remedies are not widely accepted. Those most commonly used are listed below, but there are many others; if possible, consult your homeopath beforehand.
Specific remedies to be given every 5 minutes for up to 10 doses
- Labour proceeding normally but contractions so violent they are almost unbearable, woman cries out with pain, and is nervous and restless between contractions Coffea 30c
- Pains accompanied by frequent urge to pass water or stool, woman very irritable and impatient Nux 30c
- Woman in great anguish, talking incoherently, limbs twitching, eyes staring Belladonna 30c
Specific remedies to be taken after an epidural
- Arnica 30c ½ -hourly for up to 7 doses, followed by Hypericum 30c every 4 hours for up to 5 days