Research Article

Comparison of the antiemetics metoclopramide and promethazine in labour.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985; 290 doi: (Published 20 April 1985) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985;290:1173
  1. L Vella,
  2. D Francis,
  3. P Houlton,
  4. F Reynolds


    A double blind trial was conducted in 477 mothers in labour to compare the antiemetics metoclopramide 10 mg and promethazine 25 mg and placebo when added to the first dose of pethidine. Metoclopramide and promethazine were equally effective, and both better than placebo, in reducing the incidence of nausea and vomiting after the administration of pethidine. Seventy seven per cent of mothers were drowsy, and 8% slept in the hour after the pethidine injection, with no difference between the groups. The sedative effect was more persistent in the promethazine group, 66% of whom were still drowsy after delivery. One third of the mothers in each group needed further analgesia, with 77% of these ultimately requesting an epidural. The reduction in pain half an hour and one hour after pethidine, assessed by a visual analogue scale, were, respectively, 22% and 22% for placebo; 26% and 23% for metoclopramide; 13% and 9% for promethazine. Analgesia after metoclopramide was significantly better than that after promethazine in terms of pain score, duration of first injection, and need for Entonox. Metoclopramide is therefore to be preferred to promethazine as an antiemetic in labour.