Most women suffer pain in normal labour and require relief from it. The need for analgesia is greatest when the cervix is nearing full dilatation at the end of the first stage, and at crowning, when the vagina and perineum are under most tension. The effectiveness of any analgesic is related to the patient’s attitude to labour. Antenatal education is important; the patient who has confidence in herself and those helping her, needs less analgesia than the one who is anxious and fearful. In 1967 we discussed the use of drugs in normal labour.1 We now consider the relief of pain in normal labour using techniques related to anaesthesia. Psychoprophylaxis, a method of physical and mental preparation for childbirth which aims to avoid the need for analgesics altogether, is not discussed in this article.
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