Meptid for labour – can it help relieve labour pains?

What is the pain-relieving drug meptid, and how does it help during labour? We find out - plus we look at the advantages, disadvantages and possible side effects

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There are lots of drug and drug-free pain relief options available to you during labour, but one we see pop up on our forum time and time again is a drug called meptid.

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It’s not especially common, but we do know some mums have been given it to help deal with contraction pain, so we thought it was worth looking into.

Here, we’ll explain what kind of drug meptid is, how and when it’s used in labour, and explain many of the possible side effects.

Our MFM mums also add their own experiences of meptid – so you can decide whether or not it’s right for you…

What is meptid?

Meptid (or meptazinol) is an opioid drug used as anaesthetic (to relieve pain). It’s synthetic, which means it’s not directly taken from the opium plant, like heroin is.

It’s similar in a lot of ways to pethidine and diamorphine, and shares many of the highs and lows, and possible side effects. 

Who can have meptid during labour?

Most women will be able to have meptid during their labour – though there will, of course, be some exceptions – but keep in mind that the drug’s not readily available in all UK hospitals.

So, if you think you’d like it to be used during labour, you should let your midwife know ASAP.

There’s a chance you may be able to have meptid as part of a home birth. You’ll need to speak to your midwife if that’s something you want to consider, and it may still depend on whether or not your local hospital has any.

Obviously, your medical professionals will discuss your medical history with you and you can ask them if they think meptid’s a suitable option for you.

How is meptid administered?

Meptid is usually given to you via an injection in your thigh. Doses are usually between 100 – 150mg. This may vary depending on your weight. 

Indeed, you may also be given an anti-sickness injection, to stop any vomiting or nausea you might experience as a result of taking the drug.

This can help, as Hayley L told our forum: “I had meptid with my first and third babies. The first time it made me really sick but they didn’t give the anti nausea with it back then.

“I absolutely loved it third time, it completely chilled me out and even gave me a fit of the giggles!”

When can you take meptid during labour?

You’ll be offered meptid in the first stage of labour. It’s thought to be most helpful for really strong contractions.

How effective is meptid as pain relief?

Meptid can be an effective form of pain relief in labour, however it’s not as strong as pethidine or diamorphine.

And like all drugs, there’s no telling exactly how you’ll experience it. Some of our mums thought meptid was brilliant during their labours, while others weren’t keen at all.

“With all my births I just had gas and air but with my second the midwife persuaded me to have meptid!!! This was the worst choice I could have made…”

“It was given to me too late so when my son came the meptid kicked in and made me drowsy and I was sick just after. It was horrible and I won’t have anything like that again,” says 7tob on our forum. 

“I had meptid with my daughter,” adds MrsWinstanleyToBe. “From the information I was given it was exactly the same as pethidine but my hospital only provided meptid, so kind of took the choice away for me. 

“I thought it helped though – [it] just took the edge off and my daughter wasn’t drowsy after birth either, so I can recommend it.”

And Pixie_Woo shares: “I had a shot of meptid during labour, the needle hurt like hell!

“I felt much better afterwards; the pain was still there but I somehow felt like I could cope with it better. The anti-nausea injection was a godsend too, the contractions had made me feel really sick but after the shot I felt good for about 2 hours.

“I sat bouncing on the birthing ball chatting to the midwife about her moving house and the best places to go to in Oxford, it was quite social really!

“I would recommend it wholeheartedly, neither me nor baby had any ill-effects. LO scored 10/10 on APGAR.”

What are the possible side effects of meptid?

There are a few potential side effects of using meptid, just like there are with pethidine or diamorphine.

Nausea, vomiting and drowsiness are all possibilities. It can also make you feel very emotional, or out of control.

Is meptid safe for me and my baby?

Meptid crosses to your baby, just like pethidine and diamorphine (and, to be fair, all other opioid drugs).

As a result, it could potentially affect or slow your baby’s breathing for a few days after they’re born.

It’s thought that this happens when the drug is given too close to delivery, and that’s why you’re more likely to have it early on.

That said, it’s generally thought that there’s less chance of this happening with meptid than with pethidine.

Pain relief during labour – your options

Read more about pain relief drugs for labour:

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