pain relief

Childbirth hurts. There is no way to ignore this. But every delivery is different. And one woman can deal with the contractions more easily than the other. But do not worry too much: There are plenty of ways to ease the pain. With and without medication. At home, in the birthing centre or at the hospital.

What we as a midwife can do or give against pain?


TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) is a device with which you give yourself small electrical impulses. This diverts attention from the pain of the contractions. You operate the device yourself, giving you a sense of control. The electric impulses enter your body via electrodes (wires that are stuck onto your back). This causes a prickly or tingling feeling, comparable to cold hands that tingle when they become warm again.
Birth-TENS does not completely remove the pain, but does reduce the pain in some women. It has no harmful consequences for you or your child. You can order birth TENS ( and some insurers reimburse birth TENS.

Nitrous oxide / Gas and Air

Nitrous oxide (Relivopan®) is a mixture of (di)nitrogen(oxide) (N2O) and oxygen (O2). During a contraction, you give yourself nitrous oxide via a mouth-nose mask. It numbs the pain and makes you more calm and relaxt. You put a cap over your nose and mouth, put on a chin mask and breathe in the gas. After the contraction, you take the cap off again and administration will stop automatically. The midwife makes sure that you are using the nitrous oxide correctly. Read more about the nitrous oxide.

'Alternative' treatments

You can only receive treatments at home that do not involve any medication. Consider, for example, acupuncture, hypnosis, aromatherapy (scents), water injections and acupressure. But such treatments are not used very often in childbirth. Are you interested in it? Tell us about this and we will give you more information.

What can you get in the hospital against pain?

- An epidural (also called spinal puncture) is an injection in your lower back with a combination of analgesic medicines (the medicines vary per hospital). With this pain treatment you have no pain in your lower body. Read more about the epidural.

- Remifentanil is a substance that is administered via a tube in the arm (infusion), which is attached to a pump. You can determine the amount of remifentanil that you receive with a push button. Read more about remifentanil.

- Pethidine is given by injection into your buttock or thigh. Pethidine is similar to morphine. It works within half an hour. Read more about the pethidine.

For the above-mentioned pain relief with medication you always have to go to the hospital and you will be accompanied by a gynecologist (we will then transfer the care to the gynecologist). The reason is that your heartbeat, blood pressure and breathing should be constantly monitored when administering medication. The condition of your child must also be monitored (registration of the heart rate via a cardiotocogram or CTG). The equipment for this is only available in the hospital. Read here about the most important methods and their advantages and disadvantages. That can help you to choose if necessary. Realize that for all medicines, side effects on the child have not been properly investigated in the long term.

Read more in the brochure "How do you deal with pain?"

A few facts about contractions and pain

Labour pain (the pain of contractions) is a unique pain

You only have labour pains when giving birth. It is a signal that it is time to seek help and to go to a place where you feel safe and calm. The pain is there for a reason: your baby is being born. That thought may help to endure the pain better.

Your body produces painkillers

Did you know that your body immediately reacts to pain by producing its own painkillers (endorphins)? For that reason, you feel less pain. However, if you are very tense or afraid, that may hinder the production of endorphins. Therefore, you will also get tips in this brochure on how to stay as relaxed as possible during delivery

The pain comes in waves

The pain of labour is caused by contractions. A contraction is the contracting of the uterine muscle. You can compare such a contraction with a wave washing ashore. In the beginning, you feel the wave of pain rolling in. Just before the wave breaks, the pain is most severe. Then the wave retreats and you feel the pain becoming less. Between contractions, your body rests.

The pain is not always equally severe

At the beginning of the delivery, there is more time between contractions. Then they are not yet so painful. After a while, the time between contractions becomes shorter. The contractions are more powerful and they hurt more. Finally, you have pushing contractions which can be very painful just before the birth. Once your baby is born, the contractions stop. You will still feel a few cramps to loosen the placenta. These are after-pains.

Good support makes all the difference

It may sound strange, but how you look back on your birth afterwards has little to do with how much pain you had, or if you had drugs to suppress the pain. According to research, the degree of satisfaction with which you look back later on your delivery depends primarily on the guidance and support you received. Therefore, it is important that you get good support, also from your healthcare provider.It is also important that you are involved in decisions.

Tips for dealing with contractions

There are many ways to deal with contractions. This allows you to relax better and experience less pain. Read more tips here