This is a subject that has been on my mind for a while. Last week I met up with a friend of a friend, both English, who had given birth just 3 months ago and who was over for a short break in San Sebastian. She had a delightful baby boy.
We discussed lots of things but one of them was her experience during the birth. She told me that she used gas and air to control the pain during contractions and that in the end she didn’t need an epidural as she found this was sufficient. She also mentioned that it made her feel rather dizzy (or in her words as ‘high as a kite’). She explained how she was in control of taking the gas and air by breathing through a face mask when needed. An important point that she made was that this method of pain relief is completely safe for the baby as it doesn’t cross the placenta and has very little side effects.
I’ve just seen the midwife this morning and one of my questions was about what types of pain relief were available and the answer was only the epidural.
Given that this is only administered in the later stages labour when sufficient dilation has taken place I asked what else was available for the earlier stages. The answer was none.
When I mentioned the possibility of birthing pools she looked at me as if I was on another planet. I didn’t even bother mentioning TENS which I’ve heard can be quite useful as a pain relief method during contractions.
Yet another example of how I beleive the Spanish healthcare system fails in women’s health. Gas and air may not be ideal as it can make you feel rather high but its cheap and safe and helps with pain relief so why not make it available for those who want it, after all this is the 21st century.
I wonder how much a TENS machine is – I think I need to investigate.