The principles that govern good obstetric analgesic practice are the provision of pain relief for the expectant mother, the prevention of maternal complications, and the protection of the newborn from respiratory and circulatory depression. In the United States, more than 100,000 fatalities per year occur on the day of birth and the estimated incidence of sequelae is even greater. It is felt that a decrease of mortality and morbidity might be effected by a better understanding of the recently available pharmacological tools and the exercise of greater precision in their use.
The method of analgesia that is most popular at the present time is the use of the short-acting barbiturates, such as pentobarbital (Nembutal) or secobarbital (Seconal) in the dose of 3/4 to 1 1/2 grains (50 to 100 mg.) early in labor to allay anxiety and apprehension. During the active phase of labor, meperidine (Demerol) hydrochloride (50 to 100