Morphine for Labor Pain: Is It Safe for You?


A Human body can bear only up to 45 del (unit) of pain. Yet at time of giving birth, a mother feels up to 57 del (unit ) of pain. This is similar to 20 bones getting fractured at a time. Can you imagine the pain?

This pain is unbearable. So, thinking about pain relief beforehand will give you a chance to find out what is available and how it will affect you and your baby. Your doctor will tell you what’s available and will be happy to discuss all the options with you.

Opiates are one such option. Opiates are a type of analgesic given to relieve pain. When used during childbirth, opiates are considered the first option for natural methods for pain relief such as labor in water, deep breathing, and massage. Opiates are given in small doses and usually administered during the early stages of labor in an attempt to avoid potential side effects for mother and baby.

Morphine is one among the opiates. Don’t worry using it as a pain reliever won’t turn you into an addict!

Morphine for Labor Pain: Advantages and Disadvantages

morphine for labour pain

When would you use it?

You will most likely be offered morphine in the first stage of labor if you need help coping with strong contractions.


As every coin has two sides, same way morphine does. It has advantages and disadvantages both.


  • It is more effective at relieving labor pain.
  • It works quickly and won’t slow your labor down if you are already in established labor
  • Is possibly less likely to make you feel sick or drowsy.

Disadvantages/ Side effects

   Side effects in mother-

  • Nausea: It is the commonest side effect of many medicines. Nausea is characterized by an unpleasant feeling in the back of the throat or a queasy feeling in the stomach which may or may not be associated with vomiting.
  • Drowsiness: Feeling abnormally sleepy. Many pain medicines make you sleepy at first. That’s an accepted part of what they do to your body, they quiet nerves down. So they will depress the brain a little bit, as well as they are quieting down the nerves that are causing pain sensations.
  • Confusion: It is a symptom that makes you feel as if you can’t think clearly. You might feel disoriented and have a hard time focusing.
  • Vertigo: a sensation of whirling and loss of balance. A person feels as if they or the objects around them are moving when they are not.
  • Restlessness: the inability to rest or relax.
  • Itchiness: Itch is an unpleasant sensation that elicits a desire or reflex to scratch.
  • Heart palpitations: A sensation that the heart is racing, pounding, fluttering or skipping a beat. Although heart palpitations can be worrisome, they are usually harmless.
  • Disturbed vision: Morphine causes blurred vision i.e. lack of sharpness of vision resulting in an inability to see fine detail.
  • Hypoxia: deficiency in the amount of oxygen reaching tissues.
  • Decreased gastric motility: When nerves and muscles in any portion of the digestive tract do not function with their normal strength and coordination, a person develops symptoms related to motility problems.
  • ‘Out of it’ state: Some women find they don’t remember the baby being born because of the ‘out of it’ state morphine can induce.

Side effects for the baby

This occurs because morphine and other opiates can cross the placenta.

  • Central Nervous System and Respiratory depression: When CNS function slows down, it’s called CNS depression. Slowing down a little isn’t necessarily dangerous. But if it slows down too much, it can quickly become a life-threatening event. The most dangerous overdose symptom is depressed breathing, in which the breathing slows down or becomes very shallow. Eventually, breathing will stop as morphine continues to affect the CNS. Lack of oxygen can cause brain and organ damage, as organ systems begin to shut down.
  • Impaired Breastfeeding: The baby may be sleepier and less interested in feeding for first 24 hours. You may also need to waken the baby for feeds and continue to have periods of skin to skin contact to enable them to practice sucking effectively.
  • Altered Neurological behavior: it describes various disorders of mental functioning that can range from mild confusion to coma.
  • Decreased ability to regulate body temperature.

These were the advantages and disadvantages of using morphine during pregnancy. You need consider all these points before choosing morphine as a painkiller. The medication you choose for pain relief will depend on your personal preference and your doctor’s recommendation. Choose wisely, because when you make a choice, you change the future.

Hope this article was of help to you! Please share your comments/queries/tips with us and help us create a world full of Happy, Healthy and Empowered Women!!