View Full Version : Twilight Sleep

08-21-2006, 08:53 PM
Hi. Has anyone undergone delivery--or know of anyone who has--while under the influence of a "twilight sleep" concoction, such as morphine and scopolamine? I know it was once a popular thing, since it helps remove all memory of pain in childbirth. How effective is it, and are there any lasting affects? Does it turn the birthing experience into a dream-like affair, or block it out all together?

The context would be this sort of hostile situation, where a woman was forced to conceive and deliver. I'd imagine they'd keep her drugged up for the delivery, but, since these hostiles would also want to do things cheaply and generally cut corners, they'd be forced to do things "naturally" and skip the whole invitro/testtube route. So something quick, reliable, and effective, that would keep the mother under control and the baby healthy. (The baby is what's desired from this whole operation.) Also, since the mother would need to be kept healthy and "useful" later, they'd want to prevent the connection between mother and child from forming. Thus the memory loss.

I guess what I'm asking is, does anyone know if this "twilight sleep" would do this? And if not, what would? Since I've tried to keep fertility drugs and in vitro out of the story for other, "organic" reasons, the less technical and complicated the better. Something third-world, I'd imagine.

08-21-2006, 11:35 PM

A friend of mine had to have a colonoscopy (not something that you would want to remember). They gave him a drug called "Versed". He woke up remembering nothing except the minutes right before. He had absolutely no memory of the actual procedure.

The Mayo Clinic runs a web site where you can look up drug names, the uses and what side effects, etc.

Hope this helps.


08-21-2006, 11:43 PM

Also, since the mother would need to be kept healthy and "useful" later, they'd want to prevent the connection between mother and child from forming. Thus the memory loss.


I don't know how common it is but I felt a connection with each of my children long before I gave birth. IMO, if a woman was pregnant and gave birth under the influence of "twilight sleep", she wouldn't forgot that she was pregnant and she would feel the loss of the child. I still mourn the child I miscarried!

08-22-2006, 01:25 AM
I don't know how common it is but I felt a connection with each of my children long before I gave birth. IMO, if a woman was pregnant and gave birth under the influence of "twilight sleep", she wouldn't forgot that she was pregnant and she would feel the loss of the child. I still mourn the child I miscarried!

I understand this. It's actually one of the main points of the story. I was only trying to think from the other point of view, of those wanting her only for her ability to give birth. That she feels this connection with her unborn child, and later the child as it grows and develops out of her reach (nightmares, daydreams, that sort of thing), sustains this woman. She is not simply a vessel for childbirth, but a mother.

Variant Frequencies
08-22-2006, 05:46 AM
The problem with any drugs used during childbirth is that there's a risk of the newborn being affected. That's why epidurals are used.

Versed (Midazolam) is an excellent drug for producing the kind of effect you're looking for: it would keep the mother under control, and she wouldn't remember events that took place while she was under the drug's influence. However, it would also risk the baby being born limp and not breathing well. Versed is very short acting though, and its effects can be reversed if necessary.

Hope this helps!

08-22-2006, 06:34 AM
such as morphine

At this site http://www.brighamandwomens.org/painfreebirthing/systemic.aspx, they say:
"Although there are a great number of narcotics available today, only a few are commonly used for childbirth: meperidine (Demerol), morphine, fentanyl, butorphanol (stadol) and nalbuphine ( Nubain)."
The site says these drugs make the newborn sleepy, but doesn't harm him or her. And morphine could be found in the third world, as you mentioned.

[Edit: I just re-read and noticed you said delivery. Oops. I'll leave up what I wrote, though, just in case it's useful.]

I had an injured leg that was straightened and set after the docs gave me I-don’t-know-how-much morphine (they just kept giving me shots). It hurt so bad before the drugs, but after I just sort of watched them set my leg as if I were watching a movie. Morphine would almost certainly affect the mother’s mood. For me, while I was up, the world was a beautiful place, I loved everyone, and wanted to do nothing but sing and laugh (forgot about the car I'd just wrecked). Coming down, I started panicking really badly and kept sobbing for several hours straight because I thought, for no real reason, that I was going to die that very night and possibly all my friends and family might also die that night, etc., etc. That part was truly terrifying.

I could see where a woman in the situation you described would want more morphine and could become addicted because it gives you this gorgeous black velvet sleep with no dreams. It prevents REM sleep, I believe. In any case, the sleep feels very deep, but isn’t refreshing (this info based on the leg experience and another as a kid). I never had hallucinations with it, though. Of course, individuals can react to the same drug in somewhat different ways, so you should have some leeway with your character.

Anyway, I hope that actually addresses your question and wasn't just me rambling about drugs. Poppies, poppies.


Soccer Mom
08-22-2006, 11:24 PM
Oh yeah. I had a compound fracture and they gave me morphine in the hospital. It was beautiful. I kept telling anyone who would stand still and listen how lovely the morphine was. Darn good thing they lock that stuff up.

I had Demeral during a difficult birthing and hated it. It gave me blurry double vision and after it wore off Ihad a sick headache. I'm not sure if the deadache was related to the demeral or the Tozemia. I just remember that the demeral didn't seem to help the pain much. Why Twilight Sleep? Why not just anesthesia and a C-Section?

08-23-2006, 01:39 AM
I'm leaning toward twilight sleep for a couple reasons. For one, it used to be the thing for painless childbirth, back in the day. I read an account published in 1947 of the use of the mixture of morphine and scopolamine, which they call twilight sleep. Seems they believed nothing was better, and maybe, at the time, nothing was. It subdued the mother, took away the pain, (or the memory of it) and yet still allowed her to push naturally. Afterward, everyone was happy. Except the baby, who sometimes couldn't breathe. That's why it's not used now. So I wanted something effective, but also sinister in a way. It has a reputation.

Second, scopolamine comes from the family of plants that includes deadly nightshade. My character is a plant expert (something I'm going to have to work on . . . why are they always smarter than us??), so I wanted her to be able to recognize the plant before they use the drug on her and anticipate that's going to happen. And, since these are back-woods third-world cost-cutting maybe-i'll-sterilize-the-scalpel kind of people, I thought growing their own drugs would be appropriate. They're growing babies, essentially. They already grow most of their food. And I thought it might seem suspicious having all this medical equipment sent into the jungle where there's no known settlement. Besides, babies have been born for centuries without all this safety hoo-ha. It's a second-rate operation, and I want it to be terrifying. No white gloves here.

About the caeserian section . . . same reason, I think, as why they would want to grow their own drugs. And it would get too complicated. They want lots of babies from a limited number of women. How many caeserian sections can a woman have? Natural birth works better logistically.

So I guess I want it to be primitive, cost effective, and sinister. Short of cutting the baby from the woman and leaving her to bleed to death, twilight sleep seemed pretty good. Plus, sometimes it doesn't always work the way it's supposed to. That leaves room for some pretty psychedelic possibilities. I was just wondering if anyone had any first-hand (or second or third) experiences with such a thing. Or scopolamine itself. It's used for nausea tablets I hear. Anyone get seasick?

Soccer Mom
08-23-2006, 02:42 AM
H mmm- well, anything with morphine would certainly make you stop caring. I have had outpatient surgery under heavy sedation. I have asthma and my doctor was afraid of putting me under because it had been really bad lately. I didn't feel any cutting or anything. I have a few hazy dreamlike memories and woke up feel fine, but really tired. I slept for like ten hours afterwards.

BTW--Creepy story *shivers*

08-23-2006, 02:54 AM
BTW--Creepy story *shivers*

Oh goody! It works! It works! I was just thinking how the best compliment to something I wrote would be "I gave me nightmares." Cuz that's where the stories come from.

And thanks for the input on the morphine. The only experience I have with such things is when I got my wisdom teeth taken out (nothing whatever of note), when I took Ambien for insomnia (made me see things that weren't there, like colonies of elves on my stereo. I wonder to this day if it was in fact Ambien they gave me. Didn't sleep a wink) and when I fainted during a blood test. I became paralyzed and couldn't see, yet remained conscious. Even the smelly stuff they put under your nose didn't help. I remember the experience vividly. It was pretty horrible.