doctor showing a chart to his pregnant patient

By Dr Janice TUNG, Associate Consultant and Associate Professor Tan Thiam Chye, Visiting Consultant, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, KK Women's and Children's Hospital

1. Fleet Enema


This may be given to you to help empty your bowels before your delivery.

Related: Stages of Labour and Birthing Positions

2. Analgesics

Pain relief medication that helps prevent or decrease labour pains. Examples include:

Entonox (also known as laughing gas)

One of the most common forms of pain relief for labour; you breathe in a mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide though a mask intermittently throughout labour. Side effects include nausea, vomiting and drowsiness.

Pethidine

A drug similar to morphine and heroin, this is usually injected into the thigh or buttock. Its side effects include nausea and vomiting, confusion and drowsiness. It may also cause drowsiness in your baby and affect your baby's breathing after birth if given too close to delivery. If so, your baby may need help breathing with an antidote to reverse the effects and closer observation.

Epidural anaesthesia

The most popular form of pain relief during labour, it involves the insertion of a special needle into the lower part of your back. A fine plastic tube is then passed through the needle (which will then be withdrawn) to allow the doctor to inject the drug through the tube to numb the pain. It allows you to be comfortable during labour. Common side effects include fever, shivering and headaches. Possible serious complications include a drop in blood pressure, and very rarely, nerve injury.

Related: Labour Pain Relief

3. Oxytocics

Used to increase the effectiveness of uterine contractions so that labour can progress normally. After your delivery, these medications may be used to reduce the amount of blood loss by promoting effective womb contractions.

Related: Monitoring the Baby During Labour

4. Antibiotics

These may be given intravenously to reduce the chance of infection under certain circumstances, such as if you're a carrier of Group B Streptococcus, your water bag has ruptured for a long time, or you have fever.

Related: Induction of Labour - Medical Intervention to Stimulate the Onset of Labour Pains

5. Other Medicines


Anti-epileptic, thyroid or other essential medications that have been prescribed to you before and during your pregnancy may continue to be administered during labour.

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Read these next

  • Induction of Labour
  • Monitoring the Baby During Labour
  • Pregnancy Complications
  • Sources:

    The New Art and Science of Pregnancy and Childbirth 2008, World Scientific

    Healthy Start for your Pregnancy 2012, Health Promotion Board Singapore