Did you know? – Epidural pain relief and breastfeeding: New research

“The only thing as consistent as birth pain has been the search to eradicate it, pharmaceutically”Tina Cassidy, Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born

Pain medications in childbirth have been sought for millennia. Egyptians used opium, the Greeks chewed willow bark and, on a mythical level, Artemis asked Zeus if she could remain an eternal virgin just so that there would be no chance of experiencing the pain of childbirth! Later in history (around the 1850‘s) ether and chloroform became popular medications in childbirth, until it was proven that these anesthetics were transferred to the newborn during labour and delivery. From 1914 to the late 1960‘s, the new fad in pain relief in childbirth was ‘twilight sleep’, or scopolamine & morphine, whereby a woman was rendered completely immobile and/or semi-conscious in labour and childbirth. This method became unfavourable in the 1960’s and 70’s when women began to question their lack of agency in  labour and childbirth. There were also dangerous side-effects to scopolamine (mainly hemorrhaging and transference of medication to the newborn), hence it became an unpopular method of pain relief and its phasing out made way for the most common and effective pain relief in labour and childbirth that is still used today – the epidural. (Cassidy, 2006) Continue reading

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