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Non-pharmacological methods of pain relief and systemic analgesia in labour 

Non-pharmacological methods of pain relief and systemic analgesia in labour
Non-pharmacological methods of pain relief and systemic analgesia in labour

Grace McClune

and David Hill

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date: 24 November 2020

Pain in labour is an issue common to women the world over. Healthcare professionals have an important role in helping women to understand this pain and to make informed choices regarding its management. Pain relief for labour comes in many forms. This chapter explores the theory behind labour pain and then discusses the use of non-pharmacological methods of pain relief (complementary therapies) or systemic analgesia in labour. The non-pharmacological methods described include those that aim to reduce painful stimuli and those that modulate pain sensation by the activation of peripheral sensory receptors or the enhancement of descending inhibitory pathways. Systemic analgesia in labour described in this chapter includes the use of inhalational agents, non-opioid analgesia, and opioid analgesia. The rationale behind the use of each method described is discussed along with evidence regarding the efficacy and limitations where available. Routes of administration and dosing are included where applicable. The potential for maternal or neonatal side effects is highlighted and conclusions drawn for each method as to the implications of the evidence to use in practice.

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