Sterile Water Injections During Labour

Mrs. Zeke and I attended pre-natal classes today and sterile water injections were brought up. According to what we were told they are really good for relieving the pain of back labour and pretty much 100% safe (with the usual disclaimers) and our local hospital doesn’t provide them (no big surprise since I live in Podunk, Manitoba).

This lead the two of us to wonder: a) why does injecting water into four points in the lower back alleviate the pain of back labour and 2)The hospital provides epidurals so is the sterile water treatment so much more complicated that it can only be done by uber-specialists?

Perhaps it functions only in the same way as acupuncture does – only for some people, sometimes, under certain conditions, under the hands of a trained acupuncturist, or you know, not at all. One or the other. Seems decidedly not very scientific to me – usually, injections are prepared to be not plain water, but a saline solution, to avoid tissue damage. Does an injection of plain water block all pain? that would be awesome, but I’d tink people would have heard of it by now. Or is it a special therapy, just for the special pain of labor and not others, again, not a very well grounded in contemporary medical knowledge idea, seems to me.

Very few hospitals provide them, not just Podunk. I don’t see how they work better than an epidural or nitrous oxide. I have seen a couple online journal articles in the British Journal of OB/GYN and an Australian OB/GYN journal citing better reduction in pain and Caesarean rates compared to injecting saline – but to me the question is why not go for more effective analgesia if this is needed or desired?

In practice, part of the reason it is not used is it is hard to justify doing. Thus, Manitoba practioners also may not be able to bill for doing this. I don’t think it is technically difficult to do, and I don’t know why it works if the effect is a real one.

Thank-you for your reply :slight_smile:

The “class” I was in was put on by our RHA (Regional Health Authority) and the material was aproved by them so we assume(d) it has some merit - based entirely on the evidence presented in this paragraph.

The reason we are curious is that Mrs. Zeke wants to do the whole thing without anasthetic or analgesics and sterile water seemed like relief without either of those - although only for back labour.

The “can’t charge for it” explanation makes a lot of sense.

You said compared to saline. Is saline commonly used for this? The video said sterile water but is it possible they mispoke and it is saline they are talking about?

If so, does it work and, if possible, why?

I’ve given them (I’m a midwife) - it is sterile water. In every case, it hurt the woman like a mother. It seems like the old “hand slammed in a door” method of headache relief.

Personally, I’d recommend deep water immersion, or use of a TENS machine for low-risk pain relief in labor. Or hypnotherapy. Or, slightly riskier, use of self-administered nitrous to take the edge off,