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Pain during labour is normal and its management is influenced by an interaction between a woman's mental and emotional state and the physiological changes that occur during labour. The use of pain‐relieving drugs during labour is now part of standard care in many countries throughout the world. In recent years, many women in Western countries have chosen to have epidural analgesia to relieve pain. However, some women prefer not to have an epidural, or in some settings an epidural is not available. In many maternity units intramuscular injections of opioid drugs are widely used for pain relief in labour and options for intravenous infusions may also be available. The opioid drugs used include pethidine (also known as meperidine or demerol), diamorphine, nalbuphine, butorphanol, meptazinol, pentazocine, fentanyl and tramadol, and are relatively inexpensive. It is not clear how effective these drugs are, which opioid is best, and how unpleasant side effects (such as vomiting or sleepiness) or harm to women or their babies can be avoided.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: 2011

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