A Review of Systemic Opioids Commonly Used for Labor Pain Relief


  • Deborah Anderson CNM, MSN


This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: Correction Volume 56, Issue 4, 411–418, Article first published online: 6 July 2011

Address correspondence to Deborah Anderson, CNM, MSN, San Francisco General Hospital, 1001 Potrero Avenue, Room 6D 27, San Francisco, CA 94110. E-mail: andersond@obgyn.ucsf.edu


Parenteral opioids for pain relief during labor have been the subject of research for many decades. Commonly used systemic opioids provide limited pain relief during labor yet are used extensively for managing labor pain. These opioids share similar pharmacologic profiles but differ in potency, pharmacokinetics, and side effects. This article reviews the pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and clinical research related to the commonly used systemic labor pain analgesics morphine, meperidine, fentanyl, remifentanil, butorphanol, and nalbuphine.