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27th Apr 2023

Expectant mums to be offered epidural alternative they can control during labour

Clodagh McKeon

Hospitals have banned gas and air.

Women in childbirth will be offered an epidural alternative that they can control themselves while in labour.

The fast-acting opioid is called Reminfentanil and it’s to provide pain relief to women in severe pain during childbirth but who don’t want to have an epidural.

According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), patients can control the medication themselves and so it allows them to be more mobile in comparison to if they had an epidural.

Reminfentanil is administered through a tube connected to the patients bloodstream and it’s on a timer to ensure they don’t take too much.

Compared to opioids given via injection, this pain relief is said to reduce the number of epidurals given during labour.

Epidurals are injected into the back and stops the woman from feeling pain from the waist down.

This form of pain relief also reduces the likelihood of birth with forceps or ventouse which is a suction cup attached to the baby’s head.

It comes as some hospitals have banned the use of gas and air as forms of pain relief during labour due to concerns over staff being exposed to nitrous oxide for extended periods of time.

The latest guidelines outlined by NICE also suggests where women should choose to give birth.

The report says women with a Body Mass Index of over 25 should deliver in hospitals.

It said those women and babies are more at risk of running into problems during childbirth and should “take this into account when planning their place of birth.”

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