According to a large survey of new mothers, a bath or a shower relieves pain in childbirth more effectively than anesthetic gas or pethidine. The survey also found that breathing techniques, massage, hot packs and hypnotherapy were more effective than pethidine, a strong analgesic given by injection, and nitrous oxide, that is an anesthetic gas. The survey has renewed the debate of drug overuse during child birth that could potentially harm babies.
In the survey 77 per cent of mothers said they used drugs in birth to relieve pain, including 56 per cent who had an epidural or spinal block. The survey included 510 first-time mothers and found the most effective pain relief was an epidural or spinal block, with an average rating of 9.1/10. This was followed by breathing techniques, and TENS machines followed by massage, hot or cold packs, showers and baths.
Australian College of Midwives president Hannah Dahlen also agreed that drugs like pethidine were overused. “It's a real shame on our system for not providing more water…We're very slow to change old habits and, for some reason, putting a bath in a delivery ward and letting a woman get in it seems a much more scary option for some people than sticking a needle in someone's spine and filling them up with anaesthetic,” she said.