Pain Relief During Labour


Everyone copes with labour in different ways. It can help to learn about all the ways you can cope with labour contractions. 

It's also helpful for whoever is going to be with you during your labour to know about the different options, as well as how they can support you.

Options may include: 

  • Gas and air (nitrous oxide) 
  • Injection (diamorphine / pethadine / other)
  • Epidural 

Ask your midwife or doctor to explain what's available so you can decide what's best for you. 

You might also want to do some research at home. provides free reliable information from doctors, midwives and mothers on pain relief and anaesthesia choices for your baby’s birth. 

Write down your wishes in your birth plan, but remember you need to keep an open mind. You may find you want more pain relief than you'd planned, or your doctor or midwife may suggest more effective pain relief to help the delivery.

Information about pain relief at Milton Keynes University Hospital can be found here.

Coping Strategies: 
  • Take a warm bath
  • Ask your partner to give you a massage
  • Use a maternity TENS machine
  • Keeping mobile and active (see video at the bottom of the page)
  • Listen to music
  • Use a water birth pool
  • Use a birthing ball
  • Environment (e.g. mood lighting, dim lighting, twinkly lights)
Alternative Methods of Labour Pain Relief

Some women may choose alternative treatments such as aromatherapy, homeopathy or hypnobirthing.

These methods should only be used in the presence of a registered professional and it is important that you discuss them with your midwife or doctor and let the hospital know beforehand, as not all hospitals offer these treatments.


Aromatherapy in maternity care can lead to reduced use of opioid analgesia, less need for augmentation as well as increased satisfaction in the care received. It is especially useful in the aiding relaxation which may in turn help promote physiological birth.

Aromatherapy is a way of accessing and applying the therapeutic benefits of plants by using oils called ‘essential oils’ which are extracted from plants, usually by distillation. Plants are used in a more concentrated way via Aromatherapy than in traditional herbal medicine. Methods of application include via: baths, compress, vaporisation, showers, inhalation and massage.

Click here for more information on aromatherapy during labour.


"Hypnobirthing teaches relaxation, visualisation and self-hypnosis skills."

Hypnobirthing tries to give pregnant women a positive view of birth and the belief that childbirth does not have to be painful. The aim is a shorter, more comfortable, easier labour, with less need for intervention or pain relief.

You can learn about hypnobirthing by reading about it, listening to CDs or podcasts. You will find that there are hundreds on online podcasts which are free.

Click here for more information on hypnobirthing

There are lots of free resources available on the internet for hypnobirthing. For an example of these resources, click here