Inhaled Analgesics for Pain Management During Childbirth

Findings of the latest research on pain relief during labor were published in the journal The Cochrane Library. The study was focused on the inhaled category of pain relief medication used to relieve women during child birth.

According to the researchers pain relieving medication of the inhaled type was found to be quite effective and has been recommended as a choice for women who would like to avoid invasive pain management techniques.

Inhaled Analgesics

Study at the VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam

The study was conducted by Dr. Trudy Klomp, from the EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, at the university. The research was based on data derived from 26 independent studies on the subject. The total sample size was estimated to be 2959 women. Pain relief is administered to women in the earlier stages of labor and involves invasive methods such as epidural or general anesthesia. These have side effects ranging from nausea to severe back pain that can last for many years. Many women now prefer non-invasive methods of pain relief to avoid such side effects that are also known to hinder the actual process of normal labor.

Inhaled pain relief in labor pain management is available as an alternative to invasive methods. Scientists used inhalers that had a mixture of oxygen and flurane derivatives or oxygen and nitrous oxide, for the study. These were administered to the mothers undergoing labor, on their consent. The findings included correlation of clinical symptoms of pain and the patient feedback.

Analysis of the research data

Statistical analysis was made from the data obtained through these studies. Accordingly, the following findings were documented

Inhalers were found to be far more effective in pain management as compared to those who opted for no analgesics. Inhalers are effective at lower doses and keep the mother awake through the delivery. They can also swallow normally.

  • Inhalers with flurane derivatives were much safer and effective as against nitrous oxide inhalers. Flurane inhalers also have fewer side effects than nitrous oxide ones.
  • However, flurane inhalers have to be administered only by certified anesthetics while nitrous oxide can be given by midwives also.

Lead author, Dr. Trudy Klomp says that while the findings from this study are quite reliable, sufficient caution must be applied before giving these inhalers to women. Trudy also calls for more research on the subject, especially in the type of inhalers used, so as to make the whole experience of childbirth memorable and satisfying to the mother.


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