Research Article

Intrathecal morphine as sole analgesic during labour.

Br Med J 1980; 281 doi: (Published 02 August 1980) Cite this as: Br Med J 1980;281:351
  1. P V Scott,
  2. F E Bowen,
  3. P Cartwright,
  4. B C Rao,
  5. D Deeley,
  6. H G Wotherspoon,
  7. I M Sumrein


    In 12 consecutive unselected patients admitted to a consultant maternity unit one single injection of subarachnoid morphine sulphate 1.5 mg abolished pain during the first stage of labour. Pain in the second stage was abolished in four patients and lessened in three. During the early puerperium, pain at the site of the episitotomy was much reduced. Side effects included itching of the face, nausea and vomiting, and frontal headache, but these were mild and simply treated. They were even less severe in the last four patients, in whom barbotage was not used in administering the morphine. The high rate of forceps delivery and caesarean section (three cases of each) was not thought to be associated with the use of intrathecal morphine. These findings show that intrathecal morphine can abolish the pain of labour, whether spontaneous or induced, while preserving the mother's full awareness of labour and her co-operation in the second and third stages of labour. Further, controlled, trials are warranted.