Evidence for water, massage and acupuncture to relieve labour pain

The Cochrane collaboration last week published an ‘overview’ on pain management in childbirth bringing together results of 15 previous Cochrane systematic reviews and other studies covering a total 310 trials.

The authors noted there was better evidence on which to make a judgement about pain relief using drugs compared to other modalities.

It was clear that epidurals, combined spinal, epidural and inhaled analgesia “work” for women, but have more side-effects, the researchers said.

Epidural analgesia provided effective relief “but at the cost of increased medical intervention including increased incidence of instrumental vaginal birth”, they said.

They listed under the heading “what may work”, several non-drug interventions including immersion in water, acupuncture, relaxation, massage and local anaesthetic nerve blocks and non-opioid drugs.

“Most methods of non