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Pain Relief in Labour II: Paracetemol

"Have a bath and take some paracetemol..."

By Sam The Doula (Blooming Miracle)Published about a year ago Updated about a year ago 3 min read
Pain Relief in Labour II: Paracetemol
Photo by danilo.alvesd on Unsplash

"Have a bath and take some paracetemol..."

Give me a wave if you were told this in early labour!

Let's imagine your labour begins spontaneously at home. At some point you might call the midwife led unit (MLU) to tell them regular tightenings have started and get their insight about the right time to go in, or have a midwife attend you.

It's fairly common for women who have been to antenatal classes and practised calming techniques to be quite calm at this stage, even if their contractions are fairly strong. Please don't be disheartened if the MW believes you aren't very far along! She's doing the very best she can - it can be difficult to judge labour progress from a brief phone call. You're very likely to hear the line I posted at the top there.

A few years ago, a midwife posted a blog about the increase she'd seen in latent labours. She made a link to the increase in this kind of advice. Paracetamol, she says, inhibits the release of prostaglandins in early labour.

Now, we bang on and on about oxytocin in labour (I definitely do) but prostaglandins are not to be sneezed at in the early stages either.

It's very relevant to point out that, for most women who try this approach... the paracetamol appears to have very little effect 🤔

Combine this with the bustle of activity that is hard to resist at this exciting time... and is it any wonder so many labours are so stop/start?

That's not to say you should not take any!

The choice is YOURS.

My firm belief is, as ever, that it should be an informed one. 👍

If it's something you want to try, you can be prepared for what might be a slow start.

Things you could try instead/as well:

  • Conserve your energy. Consider going to bed, especially if it's nighttime. You might be tempted to stay active because you hope this will move things along. But it's important to rest as well, because you don't want to tire yourself out before labour is even in its active phase. Remember your body is working hard, even when you are at rest. If you are able to relax, do it. Lie on your left. Wait until your labour sensations demand you get up and work with them, and then get up and move through each one.
  • Stay hydrated. Remember your uterus will contract more painfully and less efficiently if it's dehydrated. It doesn't have to be plain water. Mix honey into it. Drink sweet tea, a sports drink, fruit juice or (full sugar) squash.
  • Nourish your body. You need fuel! You are likely to have little appetite later. You'll also reach a point where your body is too busy birthing to process food, and you'll bring it back up. (Delightful!) So take this opportunity to fuel up now.
  • Yes, have a bath. Unless your midwife has advised against it. Many women find warm water very soothing
  • Alternatively, have a shower. Your partner can direct the stream on to your back or your bump - this is usually very effective.
  • Breathing and relaxation techniques. If you've been to antenatal classes, you've likely learned some powerful techniques to help you with this. Use them!
  • Massage. You might find it soothing for your partner to rub your back. This might allow you to rest. Alternatively, they could apply counter pressure. Some women cannot tolerate any pressure on their back during labour - just try different things and see what works for you. Light touch massage can be a good way to use the gate control theory of pain relief.
  • Rebozo. This is something else your partner can do to increase your comfort levels.

Dear mums -

  • Did you take paracetamol in early labour?
  • Did it help?
  • What was your early labour like? Was it spontaneous? How did it progress?


As ever - many thanks in advance for any engagement! Please leave a comment if you found anything here useful or interesting. Is there anything you would add?

If you'd like to read more about pain relief options in labour:


Antenatal classes in Shrewsbury or online:


About the Creator

Sam The Doula (Blooming Miracle)

Childbirth Eductator since 2011

Building a resource for mothers-to-be to feel informed and confident about their choices

You can find me on Facebook or book classes with me

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    Sam The Doula (Blooming Miracle)Written by Sam The Doula (Blooming Miracle)

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