Exploring Your Pain Relief Options for Childbirth

There's no denying that childbirth comes with pain. However, pain relief options are greater than ever, so you may want to start discussing them with your obstetrician. Ahead of your discussion, it's worth learning more about what you can try.


An epidural involves using a local anaesthetic to target the local nerves in your back. It's an effective form of pain relief, and with modern approaches, you can still move around. In addition to tackling the pain that comes with contractions, an effective epidural will reduce the amount of pain you feel when you push your baby out. Depending on your epidural, your obstetrician may need to use extra monitoring equipment to identify the frequency of your contractions.

Tens Machines

Tens machines are small machines that you attach to your back during labour. They deliver small electric impulses that reduce pain in a couple of different ways. First, tens machines deliver a distracting sensation to the local area that your brain may focus on rather than focusing on the pain of contractions. Second, they can stimulate the release of endorphins, which in turn reduces pain. Some patients also use tens machines for painful Braxton hicks contractions. You may want to hire or purchase a machine ahead of your due date to ensure you have one.

Water Birth

Although water births aren't available in all hospitals, they're a popular way to reduce pain and welcome your baby into the world in a calming environment. The relaxing nature of the water can lower your blood pressure, which in turn makes the pain less severe. It can also increase your endorphins, which again reduces pain. Finally, the buoyant nature of water means that there is less pressure on your muscles as contractions occur. With a reduction in pressure, your contractions are likely to feel less painful.


Also known as gas and air, Entonox is a form of pain relief that you can control yourself. When a contraction is arriving, breathing it in gives you a short burst of pain relief that makes the sensations feel less intense. The gases travel around your body quickly, which means the relief arrives rapidly. In addition to being available in hospitals, Entonox is often available at home births, but only under the supervision of a clinician.

The availability of each type of pain relief can depend on where you want to have your baby and the nature of your pregnancy. If you want to explore your options, schedule an appointment with your obstetrician.