One of the few things that doctors can do is remove pain. I am a great supporter of natural childbirth but, for the very small risk that drugs may carry, removing the pain of delivery is, in my opinion, a perfectly safe option to consider.

Pain relief in the first part of labour needs to be minimal so that mother can be aware of the progression. As the contractions become more severe and frequent, the use of nitrous oxide is safe and effective.

If this ceases to be effective then the mother may be offered an epidural or, more rarely these days, pethidine – a painkiller on the same level as morphine. Pethidine can cause respiratory depression in the child and is therefore not commonly offered. Epidurals when administered properly are safe and carry few risks of side effects.

The biggest problem is if the anaesthetic travels up the spinal column because if the anaesthetic hits the lower part of the brainstem it may stop respiration. This effect, should it happen, is temporary and a medically equipped delivery centre will deal with the problem very efficiently.

The use of local anaesthetic when repairing any tears or for an episiotomy, if required, should also be taken with no fear of risk.

Use. alternative methods primarily but if in pain you can feel happy and safe in using orthodox drugs. Ask your complementary medical practitioner for a ‘washout’ treatment for both you and baby if drugs are used.