Chloroform was first used for the relief of labour pains in 1847.
Chloroform became fashionable following its administration to Queen Victoria during her first two confinements.
Most women will find labour painful, although the severity of the pain is very variable.
During the first stage of labour, pain is felt during each contraction. At rest, the intrauterine pressure is approximately 10 mmHg but this rises to 50 mmHg during a contraction. Pain is felt above 25 mmHg, probably due to ischaemia of the myometrium.
The pain of the second stage is caused by cervical dilatation and later by stretching of the vulva and perineum.
Last reviewed 01/2018