Coping in Labour

You can do a lot to help. Preparing for childbirth during your pregnancy can improve these natural changes. At parentcraft classes you will be advised on exercises to make you fitter.


Relaxation and breathing exercises to help you manage your labour pains. Sometimes this is all that you may need. Care with your diet, and stopping smoking are other ways you can help yourself by improving your fitness and training your body for the task that lies ahead.

How your midwife can help

Gentle exercise, breathing, posture and relaxation techniques help in early labour. A warm bath may also help. 

A midwife will spend most time with you in labour. In their training, midwives receive instruction in the methods of pain relief available.

They are licensed to administer some forms of pain relief and are able to advise and seek assistance to administer other methods. Midwives are involved in giving advice at ante-natal classes.

Pain relief medicine

Obstetricians are doctors specialising in the medicine of childbirth. As part of this, they may have knowledge and administer some forms of pain relief including some local anaesthetic techniques involved in childbirth.

Anaesthetists are specialist doctors having knowledge and experience in providing all types of pain relief and can apply more sophisticated forms of pain relief to you in labour, as well as giving anaesthetics should they be necessary.


TENS has been used for pain relief in labour and is said to be effective particularly in early labour.

Treatment with TENS consists of attaching pads to your back. A low voltage electric current is passed across these pads and this stimulates your body to produce its own natural pain relieving substances.

It takes about 30 minutes before an effect is felt. The pain relief achieved is usually assessed as moderate, and is sometimes inconsistent. There are no known ill effects from TENS.

For some women it is of considerable value. As labour progresses, the intensity of the electrical stimulation can be increased to cope with the increased pain of contractions, but frequently stronger pain relief may be required.

TENS machines may be hired either from the hospital, or from groups such as National Childbirth Trust. Physiotherapists may also be involved and give advice on TENS.

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