Pethidine is administered by injection into your buttock or upper leg. Pethidine resembles morphine. You can feel the effect within half an hour and it works for 2 to 4 hours.

Advantages of pethidine

  • Pethidine can be given in every hospital at any time.

  • About one in three women is satisfied with the painkilling effect.

You may get drowsy from the pethidine or even fall asleep. That can be pleasant if you are tired from the contractions; you can then rest for a while.

Disadvantages of pethidine

  • Pethidine works less quickly than remifentanil, nitrous oxide or an epidural.

  • Two out of three women still have (a lot of) pain.

  • You may become nauseous, drowsy and sleepy. It is then possible that you are less aware of the birth.

  • You cannot walk around anymore. The drowsiness may cause you to fall.

  • Your baby may also become drowsy from the pethidine. Therefore, it may have more trouble breathing after the birth. Sometimes, babies need an injection to start breathing properly again. Due to the drowsiness, your baby sometimes has more trouble finding the breast and sucking. This may complicate breastfeeding.

Practical matters

Pethidine is not used in every hospital. Ask your midwife how this is arranged in the hospitals in your area.

Text from the Brochure 'How to deal with pain'