If your due date is getting close, it's only natural to think about the actual experience of giving birth. And no doubt you're probably a little 'how the hell is this going to work' about it. Well, Absolutely Mama spoke to an expert anaesthetist about your pain relief options during pregnancy and have kindly allowed us to share it with you.
The Expert: Mark Cox
Mark Cox is the Lead Obstetric Anaesthetist at The Kensington Wing, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London. We asked him about the role of an anaesthetist within your pregnancy journey.
What is your role at the Kensington Wing?
I oversee a group of 14 handpicked Consultant Obstetric Anaesthetists from London teaching hospitals. We provide a 24/7 resident service and assist with nine out of ten deliveries in The Kensington Wing. This may be either with pain relief or an anaesthetic for an assisted vaginal delivery or caesarean section.
What are my options for pain relief?
Normally you would consider a range of pain relief techniques and discuss these with your midwife. These include distraction, massage, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) and gas and air. However, most women in the Kensington Wing choose the complete pain relief offered by an epidural.
When would I need to decide what pain relief method I want?
Anytime you like. As mentioned earlier we are available 24/7 to come and discuss this with you.
What happens if I have really fast labour and want pain relief?
Usually, we can provide pain relief quickly even in the more advanced stages of labour. In a few women with precipitous labours it can be too late if the baby’s head is presenting when we arrive.
At which points throughout my pregnancy and stay will I see a member of the anaesthetic team?
We provide the option to talk to us antenatally about your pain relief. However, most women meet us when they attend the Kensington Wing for the birth of the baby.
What is the best thing about working at The Kensington Wing?
I am really proud to have developed this truly excellent service within my own hospital. I feel very safe practising somewhere with all the resources I might need to look after any of my patients.
Hopefully Mark's advice will help to allay any fears you have about your pain relief options - but remember, there's a wealth of advice out there, not to mention plenty of mums who have been through it. The best thing to do is compile a birth plan that you feel comfortable with - including a list of pain relief options you're open to considering.
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