Making a decision about which pain relief option is right for you during childbirth is difficult. From breathing techniques to epidurals – everyone has an opinion and there is so much information out there.
So, what does someone who has experienced it all have to say? We spoke to Renee about pain relief during her three births, what each pain relief option was like and what advice she would give her younger self.
First baby – mostly natural
“Like lots of first time mothers, I wanted to do it all naturally. But I didn’t know what sort of pain to expect,” Renee says.
During the second stage of labour, Renee decided she needed some help with the pain. But she wanted to have something that didn’t have a lasting effect on her or the baby. She decided to try remifentanil.
Remifentanil is an ultra-fast acting pain medication, which means it takes effect and wears off quickly. It can be administered through a patient controlled analgesia machine so you can control when and how often you receive the medication. The machine does have a safety mechanism to make sure you don't have too much.
It offered some pain relief for Renee during her first labour, but it wasn’t long before she got to the pushing stage of labour and could no longer use it.
“I am glad that I had my first experience with minimal pain relief. Even though it was horrendous pain, I’m glad that I know what it feels like. It’s very cliché, but it was the making of me.”
Second baby – nitrous oxide and pethidine
Renee’s approach to pain relief the second time around was a bit different.
“I had a more of a realistic idea of what sort of pain I was going to endure, my own personal pain thresholds and what I could cope with."
Renee says she wasn't opposed to pain relief, but didn't go in with a specific plan. She started with nitrous oxide, or laughing gas as it’s commonly known. You inhale nitrous oxide through a mask as you need it, and has been used as a form of pain relief during childbirth for decades. Side effects can include nausea and vomiting.
“The gas didn’t really agree with me. I was in hysterical fits of laughter - every time I looked at my husband it set me off.”