Sterile Water


Features and benefits

  • Often immediate effect.
  • No effect on the mother’s state of consciousness.
  • No effect on the baby.
  • Does not limit mobility.
  • Does not adversely affect labor progress.
  • A simple procedure that can be administered by your midwife.
  • Can be repeated as needed.

Sterile water injections are an excellent alternative for the relief of back pain in labor. Though Sterile Water Injections will not provide pain relief from contraction pain, once the back pain is alleviated, you may cope better with labor pain. As the back and pelvic muscles relax following the relief of pain, this may assist with the progress of your labor.

Sterile water injections for relief of back pain in labour

Many women will experience back pain in labor. Often referred to as ‘back labor’, the pain can continue through the normal resting phase of a contraction and be severe enough to influence plans and decisions about pain relief.

Sterile water injections (SWI) are an effective method for the relief of back pain in labor. The procedure involves a small amount of sterile water (0.1ml to 0.2 ml) injected under the skin at four locations on the lower back (sacrum).

The injections cause a brief but intense stinging sensation, like a wasp sting, that lasts for about 30 seconds and then wears off completely. As the stinging sensation eases, relief from the back pain is felt. To distract from the stinging sensation the injections are done during a contraction by two midwives. Women benefit from support and encouragement as the injections are being given.

SWI provides effective pain relief for up to 85 percent of women with back pain in labor and can last for up to two hours.

Desired Outcome/Objective

To provide alternative nonpharmacological pain relief of lower back pain in labor by the administration of intradermal injection of ‘sterile water for injections’ up to 0.4mls in four areas located over the sacral area.


  • The pain level of the back pain has to be a high enough level so that the wasp like sting is worth it.
  • On a 0-10 score, with 10 being the worst pain imaginable, the pain level has to be about an 8 or above.
  • It works immediately and takes away the internal pain.