Another form of pain management is the injection of a pain-relieving drug, Pethidine. It takes about 20 minutes to work and one injection of Pethidine can last between two and four hours. It will help you to relax, and some women find that this lessens the pain. You can also use Entonox (Gas & Air) with this.
As Pethidine is an opiate it will cross the placenta and a small amount will pass through to your baby. This can sometimes make babies sleepy when born if it’s given later on in labour, a reversal drug for your baby would then be required should this happen. However, this drug can be very beneficial if given at the correct time usually during the very early stages of labour.
Pethidine is given as an injection (standard dose is 100mg), together with an anti-emetic (anti-sickness) agent, into your upper thigh area by your midwife. Prior to this injection, your midwife will need to assess dilatation of the cervix by vaginal examination. If your cervix is seven-eight cm dilated, Pethidine is commonly advised against, as it does cross the placenta.
Some women comment that Pethidine can make them feel a little ‘spaced out’ and feel less in control of their labour. Once given it cannot be ‘unadministered‘ so discuss this option with your midwife if you have any concerns. You are not likely to be able to mobilise once Pethidine has been given.
There is evidence to suggest that breastfeeding can be affected immediately after delivery as the baby may be sleepy, and that breastfeeding can take longer to establish.
For more information visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/pain-relief-labour