Asking for pain relief during labour

You should feel that your needs and wishes are being listened to during labour, particularly around pain relief. Every labour and birth is unique and care should be tailored to you.

Woman in hospital bed holding bump during labour

25/06/20

You should feel that your needs and wishes are being listened to during labour, particularly around pain relief. Every labour and birth is unique and care should be tailored to you. We know, through discussions on social media, that people from a black or ethnic minority background may be more likely to feel affected by this topic. We want to encourage all women to feel able to speak up about their care.

There is no right or wrong way of managing pain and only you are able to express the level of pain you are experiencing. You should receive pain relief when you request it, unless there is a medical reason for not providing the treatment. If this is case, it should be discussed with you and alternative options should be offered. You should never be denied a form of pain management when you request it and your pain should always be kept at a manageable level.

Not all women will require pain management. This is more often the case when they are well supported, trust their care givers and have been helped to make informed choices. You are also entitled to change your mind regarding pain relief. If you have already refused any form of pain relief, this does not mean you cannot request it again if you need it. 

Where possible, all forms of pain management should be discussed with you in advance. The type of pain relief you want to use during labour is something you can add to your birthplan. Try to find out the range of options available and the risks and benefits of each. This means you can make the right choices for you when necessary. Your midwife can support and advise you during labour too – but ultimately it is your right and your choice.

If you are concerned that your pain is a sign of something more serious and do not feel that your concerns are being listened to, please feel able to raise concerns with the midwife supporting you in labour. If necessary you can also ask for a second review by the midwife in charge of the labour ward/birthing unit.

Read more about pregnancy during the pandemic

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