Childbirth is a unique experience, but is always accompanied by pain. Contractions exert pressure on the body in varying degrees, dependent on the course of the birth and also on individual sensitivity to pain.

Under normal circumstances, you are free to decide how you would like to manage pain. Your doctor will discuss the options available to you so that you can determine what would suit you best.

These can be helpful in the case of excessive cramping.

Breathing techniques
Breathing, movement, massage or a bath can help you to relax and can alleviate labour pains.

Epidural anaesthesia
This is used for stopping or easing pain in larger areas of the body while conscious. During epidural anaesthesia, the lower back is numbed, after which a thin plastic tube is inserted between two vertebrae and into the meninges.

As especially fine needle is pushed between the vertebrae through the meninges, allowing the medication to be injected directly into the liquid which surrounds the spinal cord. The medicine flows around the nerves that run from the uterus to the spinal cord, numbing labour pains.

Local anaesthesia
Another form of local anaesthesia is a pudendal block, which is injected into the perineal or vaginal area to reduce pain, although you will still feel the full force of your contractions. A spinal block can be given for a caesarean delivery and a lower spinal block is sometimes used for assisted deliveries.

These are given as a simple shot into the fluid around the spinal cord. These cause numbness as with epidurals and may induce nausea. If you have a spinal block you will need to remain flat on your back for about eight hours after delivery.